After being on the defensive for so long, House Forrester takes a more proactive role in reclaiming their ancestral home in Game of Thrones: Episode Four – Sons of Winter. Though things have been extremely perilous thus far, they must risk even more in order to achieve their goals. This means dealing with the enemy head on in their home turf.
Now that we’re past the halfway point of this series, things are beginning to get more intense and the stakes are rising sharply. We see the individual stories taking crucial and pivotal turns; with each character being put into compromising positions where failure will mean certain death for them, and lead to the ruin of House Forrester. As always, things aren’t how they appear on the surface and allegiances always come with the added risk of betrayal. And as is par for the course in Westeros, unexpected surprises always have a way of presenting themselves just as victory seems assured.
Mira continues to become more accustomed and adept with the ways of King’s Landing. She is a bright girl and knows that in order to help her family, despite her distance from them, she must be as cunning and deceitful as the various lords and ladies who surround her. She is becoming less troubled by having to tell lies and says whatever she has to in order to gather the information she needs.
Roddrick, like Mira, has to walk a fine line when it comes to dealing with nobility. However, he can and does exert force whenever possible. In the last episode, we saw him suffer humiliation in front of his own subjects at the hands of Gryff Whitehill. Now with new allies, he takes an enormous gamble which puts his family in grave danger. However, if it works out, it’ll mean a great victory for his house.
The most interesting segment, as far as video games go, is Asher’s tale. He asks Daenerys Targaryen for sellswords that he can bring with him to Ironrath. However, he must prove himself first by helping The Mother of Dragons take the slaver-city of Meereen. This section of the game introduces more stealthy elements than before and they work well in giving you the sense of being a shadow in the dark. This is also where most of the action takes place. Even though it isn’t as hands-on as some other games out there, the brutal fighting and killing feel just as visceral as you would expect.
Though Gared’s tale has taken him Beyond the Wall, it feels the least consequential out of the bunch. It does provide for some engaging action sequences and even has a bit of a puzzle to solve, but it doesn’t move things along like the other stories did. However, considering that his story is the one which may contain something magical which could help the Forresters, it may end up being the most interesting. We do get to meet a new character though and she will no doubt help us understand the mystery behind what Gared is seeking in the North Grove.
Interestingly, the person who got the most characterization in this episode was not one of the main protagonists. Asher’s companion, Beskha takes a bit of a spotlight here as we get to learn more about her past. Depending on how you play this series, you may be forced to put your friend in a position she may not want to be in but she remains loyal nonetheless. While learning more about her doesn’t appear to have importance to the main story, getting to know Beskha better definitely added to the richness of this episode.
This series’ distinct water color art style works best when it displays more natural environments. Unfortunately, most of this episode took place within cities or inside of castles. Because of that, some of the texture problems from previous episodes crept up again. It’s a shame that this effect isn’t able to be fully realized even on a current-gen system because when it works, it works remarkably well. When it doesn’t however, the game fails to impress visually.
While past episodes did a good job of keeping the frame rate steady, this one seemed to have more of a problem with that this time. While nothing game breaking or immersion breaking happened during important parts of the story, frame rate dips or even slight freeze-ups would happen during scene transitions. Considering that this problem seems to be multiplying with each subsequent episode, it makes one wonder if it will persist in the remaining two chapters. I’ll give credit to Telltale Games for keeping this issue to a minimum—their past games had far worse and borderline game breaking bugs–but this is clearly something that the company is still struggling with and is something which is becoming more pronounced as the series progresses.
Despite things possibly turning around for the Forresters, the end of the episode made sure to remind us that the situation can change at any moment. We can’t possibly know how this will impact the series moving into its last two episodes but signs point to it not being beneficial for our protagonists. With that said however, the pieces are in place for a final (and possibly) bloody confrontation. Whatever may come, we can be assured that it will be entertaining, if not a bit hard to stomach as a player (in a good way of course).
This review is based on a digital copy of Game of Thrones: Episode Four – Sons of Winter for the PlayStation 4 which was provided by Telltale Games.