|System: PC, PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, iOS, Android|
|Dev: Telltale Games|
|Pub: Telltale Games|
|Release: July 21, 2015|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Intense Violence, Blood and Gore, Strong Language|
by Angelo M. D'Argenio
Telltale has the habit of making their second to last episodes in series be their weakest ones, and their Game of Thrones series is likely their weakest series in and of itself. So what happens when you put those together? Something that’s not very fun. I wouldn’t say Episode 5, A Nest of Vipers, is a bad game. Rather, it’s a depressing and discouraging one. It makes you feel so bad about the characters and the whole Game of Thrones universe that you just kind of want to give up.
This episode kicks off with Rodrick talking with Ramsay Bolton, and oddly enough, that’s the first problem the episode encounters. Anyone who has been following the show or the books knows that Ramsay, the evil person he is, survives. So your choices don’t feel like they matter here. You don’t particularly care about, say, selling your sister into marriage because you know she isn’t the person Ramsay marries in the end, and you certainly don’t want to make any move to attack him, because you know he is still alive in the main storyline. The illusion of choice, however strong an illusion it might be, was broken as soon as the episode started and it discouraged me from playing the game by making decisions as I thought the characters would, and instead encouraged me to try to “win” with my choices with the prior knowledge I had.
The story continues on and gets really gory, far more gory than previous episodes. The blood and viscera flies in many scenes, and it’s much more graphic than it has been in prior episodes. I’m not sure how I feel about that. Yes, Game of Thrones is a gory series, but the gore in these scenes isn’t actually furthering the story. In fact, the first gory scene, which I won’t spoil, literally accomplishes nothing. There’s a bunch of gore and then the story is reverted back to where you were before the episode even started. It’s like the scene exists just to gross you out.
One thing that has really been annoying me since this series started is the way it's handled characters from the mainline series. Everyone seems more skewed toward the evil or incompetent side. Margarey, while not a saint, is made out to be far more unforgiving than she was in the show, and Daenerys is characterized as a shady businessperson who looks to get out of any deal she makes while in the show she is slightly unsure of herself and sticks to her principles. Spoiler alert example here: in the show she was ready to string up every slave owner in Mereen shortly after she took it, but in the game we accidentally killed ONE slave owner, in the heat of battle, and she says, “Whoops! Sorry, no deal, suckers!” It completely breaks character and makes it feel like I’m playing in a version of Game of Thrones with even more backstabbing betrayers than there already were - and that’s saying something!
If I were to describe the feeling of Episode 5 overall it would be, “discouraging.” Telltale continues this series' tradition of invalidating everything you did in the episode prior. Even if you jailed your enemy as Rodrick, a higher power sets him free. Even if you were stealthy as Mira, Lannister guards still find you. Even if you did everything Daenerys said, she won’t aid you. Nothing you do is ever rewarded.