Game of Thrones Episode 4: Sons of Winter
Adventure, Interactive storytelling
Android, iOS, PC (Reviewed), PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One,
May 26 2015
$4.99 per episode (all Platforms except PC)
For entire season $19.99 (XBox 360, Xbox One), $4.99+ $19.99 in-app (Android, iOS), $24.99 (PS3, PS4), $29.99 (PC)
Spoiler Alert: This review contains some spoilers about the previous episodes of the game and about the TV show.
Asher, Gared, Rodrik and Mira have all laid their plans out and now they execute them in this Episode. Game Of Thrones Episode 4: Sons Of Winter focuses on action, so expect a lot of combat as the woes of the Forrester family continue in their fight for survival. While the Forrester family has been the forefront in the episodes past, this time the story goes into detail to fill out the other characters’ backgrounds, as very well as having each deal with their own past. With the main cast established, the game now plays much more smoothly as it is often easy to see how one character relates to the other.
As Mira gets more comfortable in the politics at King’s Landing, she has to ensure help where she can find it, but you decide what happens to Sera, the other handmaiden, as you can either keep her secret or betray her. Rodrik’s childhood lover Elaena realises the consequences of the Whitehills gaining power in the name of the Boltons. The Whitehills have decided to spread their influence across the region and in return, have annoyed some people. Rodrik finds new unlikely allies this time. A surprise call for truce by Lord Whitehill doesn’t seem so out of place, now that they realize their weakness, which the Forresters are quick to pounce upon, looking to free young Ryon. Things can happen unexpectedly in the fashion of Game of Thrones, as unforeseen events will surprise the characters and the player alike.
Gared returns to the North Grove with some help. His story ended as a disappointment for me, as regardless of the choices made, the Night’s Watch is intent on executing Gared. The best scenes are from Beshka, Asher’s companion. She tells her story as she ran away from Meereen, but events have led them to back to it, as Asher helps take over the city for a reward from Daenerys Targaryen. Daenerys seems uncharacteristically hostile and stubborn, particularly in matters of her dragons.
Sons of Winter had me holding on to the controller throughout the episode as QTEs (Quick-Time Events) came up often and unpredictably. It built immediacy and forced quick thinking on the course to follow, but when I replayed the chapter what I found disappointing was that this was all an illusion, as there are absolutely no consequences for failing in these scenarios. Then there are the dialogue choices, where you are given a few seconds to make a very difficult decision, with all but one choice leading to death and having to retry.
While Gared and Mira offer limited control over their story, Rodrick and Asher feel more manipulative. Rodrick has the best scenes in the entire game in this episode as he takes back control of his house and pays a visit to the Whitehills to negotiate. Wrong choices here mean death and success is the only way out. This constant pressure through the final stretch is only exemplified with a cliffhanger at the end of the episode, which will have you yelling in frustration as things change just when they were starting to go well. The storyline is what keeps the game interesting, as it often surprises you.
Over the course of the season, these choices have become more transparent to look through. It doesn’t matter what choice of the two given you make, as most have similar unseen consequences that are generally minor.
The game is really fun to play, but the blurred oil filter is still ugly to look at. While the effect does look unique, its overuse has made some characters look like badly drawn cartoons.
Sons of Winter pushes the story forward with great momentum. We only hope this can continue in the final two chapters as well. It features the best of storytelling that the series has been known for. There is good variation and the jumps follow smoothly from one storyline to another. The tale of the Forresters is now almost as exciting as that of the main cast of the TV show. It manages the high stakes drama well within its narrative, isolating the game just enough from the main storyline. It will be interesting to see how the wild card Ramsay Snow affects the slight advantage that the Forresters have manage to muster at Ironrath.
+ Fast paced momentum throughout
+ Best moments in Rodrick's storyline
+ Focus on side characters storyline
- Bad Textures/Backgounds due to overused visual filter
- Lack of story variation from choices is noticeable