Telltale’s Game of Thrones: Episode 3 – The Sword in the Darkness Review for Xbox 360

Telltale’s Game of Thrones: Episode 3 – The Sword in the Darkness Review for Xbox 360

Picking Up the Pace in the Game… of Thrones

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.

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.

Mira’s lowest points are when she has to play politics with the nobles of King’s Landing, which is unfortunate because that was the high point of Episode 1 . Everyone acts like a total jerk to her, from the Lannisters, to her handmaiden friends, to her coal boy informant, to even Lady Margarey. Margarey actually acts well out of character in this episode, striking with a forked tongue reminiscent of Cersei. Margarey is no saint, but throughout the entirety of the HBO show and even the books, she was characterized as someone who kills you with kindness, going as far as to try to force the crown to donate food and money to orphanages against their own wishes. The petty, image-concerned, sneering Margarey from this episode is just so unlike the Margery we know that keeps her cool and keeps up appearances under any circumstance.

Mira’s story’s highest points are after the Purple Wedding. Not only does this quickly catch the game up with current HBO cannon, but it also puts Mira in the position of being an unlikely hunted hero. Lying, stealing, and tricking palace guards is way more fun than politicking, which generally always puts you in the position of everyone around you hating you and stabbing you in the back for basically no reason.

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

Rodrick’s story starts out the weakest this time around. The Whitehills have occupied Ironrath and have even taken over your house. It’s your job to try and bolster morale. You are frequently given the choice between kneeling to the Whitehills or standing your ground, but the problem is that none of these choices matter. No matter how much you defy them or cater to them, nothing really progresses. The Whitehills stay where they are and nothing changes, putting things in an odd stasis that doesn’t feel very good. Heck, even when you make plans to take back your house, the game makes sure to invalidate them in mere minutes, saying they won’t work for some reason to another, and bringing you back to square one.

But all of this is redeemed by the final scene of the game, which goes to Rodrick himself. Here, you once again get to choose to kneel to or defy the Whitehills, and both options are absolutely awesome. Standing your ground actually involves a quicktime event where you repeatedly get up no matter how much you are beat down, and this makes you feel like a total medieval badass. Meanwhile staying down also progresses the plot in interesting ways, as you are forced to choose what is more important, your pride or your house’s safety.

The closure scene is just great. It’s a series of quick cuts between the characters to show you what they are doing, but you actually get to play as them while these cuts are made. You’ll be running with Mira, then talking to your family with Rodrick, then making deals with Asher, then manning the wall with Tuttle, each a few seconds at a time as the episode draws to its close. That close is certainly an epic one, and includes a cameo many have been highly anticipating.

While Episode 3 of Telltale’s A Game of Thrones still has some problems, it’s certainly learning more about how the Game of Thrones narrative progresses. Its low points are still kind of disappointing and boring, but its high points are truly phenomenal. It’s these set pieces like the fight with the dragon, the standoff against an invading house, and the fated confrontation atop the wall, that make Episode 3 a treat to play and make me very excited to see what Telltale has in store for Episode 4 .

The paintbrush style graphics are less distracting this time around, but I did encounter some random clipping errors. 4.0 Control
The user interface is cleaned up and easy to follow. 5.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
This series still has some of the best voice acting in the gaming industry. 3.5 Play Value
The pace really picks up this time around, and has pushed me to continue the series when I was about to give it up. 4.1 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.

Review Rating Legend
0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 – 2.9 = Average 3.5 – 3.9 = Good 4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 – 2.4 = Poor 3.0 – 3.4 = Fair 4.0 – 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • A whole lot of cameos by characters like Margarey, Cersei, Tyrion, Jon Snow, and Daenerys.
  • Compelling story that plunges it’s characters deeper into trouble with each episode.
  • Incredible set piece moments that make you feel like a hero in a grim world.

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