In the violent and cruel world of Game of Thrones, nothing is more rewarding than revenge. Nothing gives me greater satisfaction than seeing the vile characters of the series get what’s coming to them. And with three episodes of build-up, Episode 4: Sons of Winter finally lets loose, giving you ample opportunity to exact revenge on those who have wronged you — or rather, the members of House Forrester.
Hands down, Sons of Winter is by-far the action-packed episode we’ve seen yet in Telltale’s Game of Thrones series. By now, you should be familiar with Telltale’s whole “Your choice matters” routine, and to that end, Episode 4 continues the story of each respective member of House Forrester — so there will potentially be spoilers below.
More important than anything, Sons of Winter finally feels like an episode that moves the story forward — for everyone. As always, the episode jumps around the various members of House Forrester. Gared finally embarks on his journey north, Rodrick breaks the Whitehills’ vicious cycle of abuse, and Asher begins his journey to acquire a sellsword army. All three storylines involve a heavy dose of action-oriented gameplay that I’m not used to seeing in Telltale’s games.
Sons of Winter opens with Gared in custody and facing severe punishment for killing Britt, the former Bolton soldier who murdered his family, at the end of last episode. Though you’re given a chance to plead your case, it falls on deaf ears as you’re ultimately going to be sentenced to death. Ultimately, you end up escaping and so begins Gared’s adventure to find the North Grove along with Cotter and Finn. Once outside of Night’s Watch, the three are quickly ambushed by a pack of Wildlings that not only create some good action sequences, but also further progress Gared’s story.
Meanwhile, Asher, still on the other side of the world, finds himself in the presence of Daenerys Targaryen who I particularly thought Telltale did a wonderful job portraying in the game. Animation aside, Daenerys’ tone and dialogue is spot on to the television version of herself. Out of all the characters we’ve seen from the show in the game, she has, by far, been my favorite.
After some back-and-forth with the Mother of Dragons, Asher is ultimately sent on a mission along with Malcom and Beshka to with the siege of Mereen in order to help free the slaves. Asher’s segments have always been action-oriented, but Sons of Winter takes it to a whole new level, as Telltale uses a combination of simplistic stealth and combat to create some of the exciting moments we’ve seen this season. Of course, this is still a Telltale game, so the action is done with the simplest point-and-click mechanics. At no point did I feel like I would be spotted or not succeed (if it were not by Telltale’s design).
Perhaps more interesting than the combat itself, is the information you learn about Beshka, who apparently has a history with Mereen. I won’t spoil what that is exactly, as the reveal allows for some of that classic Telltale storytelling, but it ultimately does lead to a crucial decision you must make which could ultimately impact your relationship with Daenerys.
Back at the Forrester keep of Ironrath, Rodrik finally goes on the offensive. After two episodes of constant abuse at the hands of Griff Whitehill and his soldiers, Rodrik is able to turn the tables, and damn does it feel nice. Some of my favorite moments of the Game of Thrones shows are when the bad guys get what’s coming to them. Rodrik’s portion of Sons of Winter offers that same satisfying feeling. It ultimately leads to an intense confrontation with Lord Whitehill himself that eerily evokes the events of the Red Wedding before quickly turning into a tense hostage-negotiation. It was easily one of the most intense moments of the game, on par with Ethan’s death from episode 1. Of course, this is Game of Thrones, so any feeling of victory or rejoice is quickly squashed as the return to Forrester keep is greeted with a truly horrifying event.
Through all the action in Episode 4, it’s easy to forget about Mira’s relatively small part. Her story takes place almost entirely at a party following King Tommen Baratheon’s coronation. Her portion of the game plays out more like an adventure-puzzle, where you’re tasked with eavesdropping on conversations in attempt to learn more about the Whitehills’ plot against the Forresters. Like the combat portion of Asher’s story, much of Mira’s gameplay feels very straightforward and planned.
Now officially more than halfway through the first season, Telltale’s Game of Thrones is really starting to hit its stride. Though my decisions don’t feel as impactful as I would like, and this is a constant gripe I have with Telltale’s whole “Decisions Matter” approach, Telltale is carving out a nice side story to go along with the books and HBO show. With just two episodes left, I’m eager to see how much more House Forrester can endure.