‘Game of Thrones: Sons of Winter’ is a small step in the right direction

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Game of Thrones: Episode 4–Sons of Winter
Developed and published by Telltale Games
Available on Ps3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC, Mac

Telltale’s Game of Thrones series continues to struggle as it passes its halfway point with the latest episode, Sons of Winter. What’s really unfortunate about this serialized gaming experience is how much the comparisons to both the HBO television series from which it takes its name, and Telltale Games’ previous titles, such as The Wolf Among Us, and The Walking Dead, continue to hurt it rather than help it. Alas, even as a slight improvement on the previous installment, The Sword in the Darkness, it still falters nearly as often as it soars.

This latest chunk of contrived storytelling centers primarily around Asher and his mission to infiltrate Meereen under the orders of Daenerys Targaryen, and the perpetually limping Rodrick’s attempts to save the dwindling Forrester house back at Ironrath. The former continues to feel completely irrelevant, unless they’re planning on ending this entire season without resolving it at all, perhaps mirroring the often stagnant Daenerys storyline from the show (which would be a truly poor idea). The latter, definitely containing the episode high points, including a shockingly brutal scene where you’re given the choice to brutally beat a man almost to death, still feels largely irrelevant, even with it’s so-called “cliffhanger” ending (I’ll give you a hint: it ends with a well-known character making a vague threat which will almost assuredly amount to nothing.)

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Again, characters from the show are ham-fistedly inserted at key plot points, even as they never really do anything to benefit the story or presentation whatsoever. Are we really supposed to be taking Margaery seriously as a threat here? When has she ever been vicious or vengeful in her entire history? She’s a high class of manipulator but it’s difficult to feel really intimidated by her in this story, or any of the characters who are presented as consistent threats or adversaries really.

On a more positive note, there is a lot more variety on the gameplay front this time around, and a couple of the choices do contain a feeling of legitimate weight and consequence, but with only two more episodes remaining in the series, and so little movement in the plot episode for episode, I don’t imagine that Telltale will be able to turn this ship around with the remaining four hours to come.

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In the end, Game of Thrones: Episode 4–Sons of Winter does little to move this experience beyond the realm of thinly veiled fan fiction, and is still easily the weakest series that Telltale has ever produced since it hit its stride a few years back. Though I don’t imagine anyone who has plunked down their hard-earned money for this title in its entirety walking away at this point, as the dangling story threads remain at least marginally interesting, even as every playable character literally shares the exact same family allegiance and goals, but few will be awaiting the remaining episodes of Telltale’s series with the baited breath to match either of the excellent pedigrees that have joined together to make this title possible.

Here’s hoping for a much-unexpected turn around for episodes’ 5 & 6, but as far underwater as we currently find ourselves, its probably best we stop holding our breath.

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