Telltale’s Game of Thrones: Episode 3 - The Sword in the Darkness Review
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Telltale’s Game of Thrones: Episode 3 - The Sword in the Darkness Box Art
System: Xbox One, PS4, PC*, PS3, Xbox 360
Dev: Telltale Games
Pub: Telltale Games
Release: March 24, 2015
Players: 1
Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p Intense Violence, Blood and Gore, Strong Language
Picking Up the Pace in the Game... of Thrones
by Angelo M. D'Argenio

Telltale’s A Game of Thrones: Episode 3 has definitely learned from Episode 2’s shortcomings. While it still struggles with the multi-character format, it certainly has learned a bit more about its own pacing. The high points of this episode are outstanding, bringing a smile to your face like the best scenes of the HBO series, and while there are still some disappointing lows, the episode successfully keeps you playing and makes you want more, which is honestly not a feeling I had at the end of Episode 2.

The episode starts strong, very strong, by putting you back into the shoes of Asher Forrester. Still on the run from the Lost Legion, Asher’s escape makes him cross paths with Drogon, Daenerys Targaryen’s black dragon. Within but a few minutes you will find yourself caught between the dragon and your pursuers, participating in quick time events to stay alive, and making your first of many huge decisions in the episode - and this is all before the title sequence.

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Now that you are suitably pumped up for the rest of the episode, you are jumped to Gared Tuttle up on the wall. Last episode, Tuttle was easily the most boring of all the protagonists. This time around, the writers have tried very hard to give him a lot to do, and you’ll spend most of your time with him. Luckily, Tuttle is doing much more than training this time around. He takes his vows, can make amends with old friends, uncovers hidden secrets about members of the Night’s Watch, chats it up with Jon Snow, plans to find the North Grove, and even has to deal with the reappearance of some of his old enemies.

Telltale’s Game of Thrones: Episode 3 - The Sword in the Darkness Screenshot

What’s interesting about Tuttle’s portion of the story is that they are some of the only points in which you can make decisions that feel right to you. Much of Telltale’s A Game of Thrones is all about choosing between two to four equally horrible options. But Tuttle’s choices really do give you a lot of agency over you and your band of Night’s Watch brothers. You can make amends with old enemies or continue to treat them like bastards. You can keep your secrets, or tell them all to those around you. Similarly, you can guard your brothers’ secrets or do what you think is right and tell those who ask. Tuttle has the most flexibility of any of the other characters in his chapters, and the ability to actually make allies and see people smile once in a while gives you this feeling of deep relief when the rest of the episode is filled with so much tension.

It’s also worth mentioning that this episode connects Gared to the main plot again. Not only does he converse with some of characters from other story arcs, but we also get to learn more about what the North Grove is and why he has to find it. The way Gared was slipped back into the main plot was actually well done and didn’t at all feel forced, which was something I worried about when he was just sort of farting around with his training last episode.

Telltale’s Game of Thrones: Episode 3 - The Sword in the Darkness Screenshot

The only thing that’s annoying about Gared’s chapters is that as soon as he takes his vows with the Night’s Watch, a million things start pushing and pulling on him to desert. They never really give us enough time to “enjoy” being a part of the Night’s Watch before pushing this on us, which makes you less conflicted about possibly betraying your brothers than you should feel.

Mira’s story is also slightly better this time around, but starts on an awkward note considering how it ended last episode. For those of you who don’t remember (and, fair warning, I’m about to take you on a trip to spoiler town), Mira’s final chapter last episode involved an attempt on her life, which you could solve through some sneaky and/or violent ways. However, this chapter just starts with her talking about the upcoming royal wedding and making plans about how she will attend. The game barely even mentions the events of last episode, and when it does, it’s mostly to put them away safely in a plot drawer and never speak of them again.

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