Game of Thrones: Episode Three – The Sword in the Darkness
Much like the television show it’s intertwined with, Telltale’s Game of Thrones series is proving itself to be something of a grower. Whilst the previous two episodes did a nice job of introducing new characters to an already-sprawling world, episode three, The Sword in the Darkness marks the point where you may actually start to care for them.
Case in point is central protagonist Gared Tuttle, whose beleaguered story so far has been viewed from a distance by players due to a relative paucity of meaningful decisions. Here though, there’s at least two huge crossroads in his journey and as many minor plot points to wrestle with. The invisible hand of Telltale can still be felt at times, guiding you through a small set-piece whilst giving the illusion of choice, but all in all it’s a marked improvement for the series.
It’s much the same with the other three narratives that dovetail in and out of each other. Mira’s previous collusion with Tyrion Lannister becomes a sticky wicket that will have players gulping hard when pushed to make certain choices whilst Asher Forrester’s segments that top and tail the episode do a good job in combining action-orientated set pieces with a moral dilemma or two.
In fact, of all Telltale’s episodic games so far, The Sword in the Darkness may be the most diverse in terms of player choice. The usual post-credit breakdown (where your actions are compared to those of all other online players) is perhaps the most lop-sided yet seen, at least at the time of writing. It’s an indicator that, if done a certain way, your own journey can differ significantly from that of the norm, something that’s crucial to the nature of these games.
As before, the writing and voice acting are of a calibre to match the series itself although that does mean a similar inconsistency in quality. However, most of the new blood do a stand-up job helped along by some liberal appearances from the screen’s big names. However these are very much ancillary characters with credit to Telltale for continuing to keep interest piqued by the new roster.
Perhaps though, Game of Thrones’ biggest issue is not so much with the game itself as with its delivery. Even a week between TV shows can do a lot to erode the finer details from memory, particularly a world with this much detail. Blame box sets and on-demand TV but six weeks between episodes does seem a pinch too much, although there have certainly been longer gaps with previous titles. However, a more consistent delivery of content must surely be attainable by now.
At this midway point, Game of Thrones is showing much promise, enough to invest in a season pass if you’re any kind of fan. It’s been a steady drip-feed so far but The Sword in the Darkness feels like a dam ready to burst and with three more episodes to come there’s plenty of room for it to flow. Where it flows is, it seems, increasingly down to you.