In the Game of Thrones HBO television series, a character once said, “It’s the family name that lives on, it’s all that lives on.” That quote echoed in my head repeatedly during my playthrough of Sons of Winter, the fourth episode in Telltale’s Game of Thrones video game series.
As a whole, the series has been quite a departure from typical video games. Not in the way Telltale uses conversation as a gameplay mechanic, but in that the previous three episodes have made the player feel weak and powerless. The protagonist Forrester family has been through heartbreak after heartbreak in the manner ‘good’ characters always seem to in the source material. Usually, video games make the player powerful or at least capable. The same cannot be said for Telltale’s Game of Thrones. In episode 4, some of the Forrester family members begin to assert themselves in new ways and this change makes the series altogether a more enjoyable experience.
As in previous episodes, players have the ability to control Rodrik, Mira, Asher, and Gareth as they attempt to restore their family name to prominence and stay alive in the process. This creates a delicate balance of when a character should stand up for himself/herself or back down for the greater good. Rodrik’s choices affect the livelihood of his brother and numerous people who look at him as their lord and leader. Mira’s choices affect her relationship with her fellow handmaiden, Sara, and a young boy whose help she desperately needs. Asher’s decisions put him between his uncle and his friend Beshka. While Gareth struggles with being loyal to his Night’s Watch vows or loyal to his family. Similar decisions have been present in episodes 1-3, but in episode 4 the ramifications feel more intense, which is a credit to the writers.
Additionally, episode 4 allows some of the secondary characters to evolve. These added dimensions are sure to increase the player’s interest in the story as they will change the way these characters are viewed. The cameo appearances from television characters are still present, and while these are still welcomed, some interactions with them feel forced. Also, Daenerys comes off as unusually cruel to one of the protagonists and it feels like a contrast to her personality in the HBO series. Regardless, these moments do not take away from the quality of Episode 4 as the Forrester family name is what will ring on. Those who have played the previous three episodes in this series will certainly enjoy Sons of Winter. Fans of the books or television series who have yet to try out Telltale’s Game of Thrones definitely should give it a try.
- + Forresters start to strike back
- + Secondary character evolution
- – Cameo appearances feel forced