We’re nearly there. Nearly at the end of this first instalment of Telltale’s Game of Thrones series, and after the lull of the last episode, A Nest of Vipers brings us back to what we love about these narrative and character driven games – the surprises they’re able to impart and the way they can make us feel.
Easily the shortest episode of the Game of Thrones series so far, a lot is packed into the 90 minutes you’ll be in the game. With nothing really in the way of exploration or investigation, there’s more action than we’ve seen in the other instalments, and it’s a welcome shift. You’ll not lack for dialogue of course, there’s plenty to keep the plot moving, and it’s all building towards the finale we’ll get in around 5 or 6 weeks time. The major players in the story are still following their plotlines and trying to save House Forrester from total destruction. King’s Landing, The Wall, Ironrath and Mereen all feature equally, and really instill a sense of urgency as things draw to a close.
The further we go into the series, the harder it is to write about them without revealing spoilers, especially with choices you make dictating the outcome of the story. Or do they? During this episode there are several clear cut choices to make, but with characters from the books/TV show and the way things are positioned, you know that some of the things you’re going to do aren’t going to have the desired outcome. This is the biggest problem I have with the series, and this episode in particular. I felt more involved with the universe with the inclusion of familiar faces, but my decisions were arbitrary due to the fact I knew they wouldn’t have any impact. I also couldn’t help but feel decisions made back in episode 1 would be played out here in the same way regardless of what that original choice was – though the only way to check that is to play through again.
A Nest of Vipers does deliver what might be the first totally clear and consequential choice of the series so far, and maybe it’s the first one I’ve seen that obviously has ramifications later on. It’s because of this that Game of Thrones has elevated itself above the mediocre direction is seemed to be taking at the halfway point. Giving me the feeling of genuinely split emotions around what I had to do, agonising over what will be the right choice and not even contemplating that there is no wrong choice is exactly what I want to experience. This is why we play these games, and this is why I can’t wait to find out what will happen in the final part.
Love, betrayal, hope, deceit, sorrow and loss are key themes through the series, and it’s no surprise to see them here in video game form. The upturn in events and a less plodding pace to Game of Thrones has revived my interest, and A Nest of Vipers is easy to recommend. I’d still suggest maybe waiting until The Ice Dragon releases so that you can play everything at once and get the full emotional impact at once.