After the first two episodes made a strong start to Telltale’s Game of Thrones series, episode three saw the story slow to a crawl, as most characters encountered little action and excitement. Episode four, Sons of Winter, fares a bit better for three of the playable characters, with one notable exception in King’s Landing. Still though, with two episodes to go, it appears Telltale is capable of righting the ship and delivering a strong finale, thanks to the legwork performed here in episode 4.
Game of Thrones has always reveled in putting its characters through the ringer, making them as miserable as possible, so it was nice to finally see a bit of hope for the Forrester clan in Sons of Winter. Rodrik Forrester, the newly-appointed lord of the family back in Ironrath, is finally taking steps to reassert the dominance of his Forresters over the seemingly omnipresent Whitehills. After a few episodes of utter despair in Ironrath, it was nice to see the Forresters finally doing something about their problem, even if his plan seems unlikely to work.
Further North at the Wall, Gared also sees his story finally start to move forward. After episode three finally ended his boring and cliched revenge story, Sons of Winter features Gared and his closest allies fleeing the Night’s Watch and heading North into the unknown. This has always been the direction Gared’s story would have to go – ostensibly he’s seeking the North Grove, hinted at back in Episode 1, and while he doesn’t quite make it there yet, what happens beyond the wall is unpredictable enough to keep players satisfied.
To the east in Meereen, Asher and his crew seek the aid of Daenerys Targaryen in order to assemble an army and return to Ironrath to avenge his father’s death. Asher’s segments mostly focused on their part in the overnight sack of Mereen, and it makes for the strongest part of the episode. Rather than engaging in lengthy conversations, Asher sneaks his away around Meereen, stealthily killing guards while simultaneously learning more about his companion Beskha’s history with the city. As anyone who has watched the Game of Thrones show knows, the plan is a success, but with only two episodes left in the season, can Asher possibly make it back to Westeros in time to help his family?
As mentioned earlier, one character suffered from a sub-par storyline in this episode, and that’s Meera in King’s Landing. Meera’s story has usually been some of the best scenes in the game, likely due to the many familiar characters (Tyrion and Cersei Lannister as well as Margaery Tyrell) who show up. In Sons of Winter however, none of them do, and the episode suffers for it as Meera spends one bloated section walking back and forth at a banquet eavesdropping on conversations and trying to figure out her own way of helping her family back at Ironrath. Extended dialog sequences have been done well in Game of Thrones before, but this was far too linear and slow-moving to remain interesting.
Aside from the lack of action in King’s Landing, for the most part Sons of Winter fared well. A few of the plots that were starting to grow stale have been cast off, and a majority of the characters finally feel like they’re taking real steps to solve their big problem back home rather than constantly doing whatever the nearest authority tells them to. With two episodes left, it’s entirely possible that their plans fail (there is after all a second season of the series planned), but there’s enough intrigue here to make Game of Thrones worth finishing.