– Spoiler Review –
“The Sword in the Darkness” picks up some of the slack created in “The Lost Lords” by giving characters and players increasingly difficult choices to make, while expanding roles and adding whole heaps of mystery by digging into the fantasy side of Game of Thrones.
(UPDATE: I won’t be reviewing this series any more, nor its finale, which I finally completed two years later. It, like much of this series, was rather lackluster, and left me feeling like most of my decisions didn’t matter as there was an outcome planned anyways. The North Grove? Not explained beyond there being creepy magic to help slay the White Walkers. By the end, at least for me, the Forrester family has less members alive then the Starks and they are no where near as important. There will be a second season, so if you enjoyed this then don’t fret there’s more to come, but I’d be doubtful to return as I’ll be too busy watching the show or re-reading the books (or reading a new one, if George R.R .Martin ever gets one out!). Good luck playing and thanks for checking out the Manor; stay awhile for our primary focus, Star Wars, if you’d like!)
Gared, who did a whole lot of nothing in the previous episode, gets an exciting new lease on life with a mysterious mission, a confrontation with an old enemy, and working on learning to trust those around him despite some of their big secrets. Duncan, his uncle who made the call to banish Gared to the Wall in the first place, arrives with a secret map their Liege Lord had regarding the mysterious North Grove he whispered to Gared about before dying. And even though Gared just took the vows to be a man of the Night’s Watch (where you had to press X for each spoken line as to reinforce you’re taking the vows), that’ll be nowhere near as exciting as searching for a Citadel of supposed unfathomable power in the wilderness beyond the Wall. As impossibly hard as that may seem, Cutter (a thieving brother of the Night’s Watch) reveals himself to be a wildling in disguise, who promises to help Gared…if you play your cards right. Gared’s segment ends on a confrontation with Britt, the man who killed his family in the first episode, and I decided to take the high road in the fight even though it was really tempting to kick Britt off the Wall to see how that all played out. Gared just went from being the least interesting character to being the one with the most potential at this point, in my eyes.
Asher’s segment injected a little humor and levity to the proceedings, something sorely missing from an overall dramatic and heavy episode. I was totally convinced Croft, the man Asher and team go to see about gathering a portion of the Second Sons for their fight against the Whitehills, was seriously going to stab out Asher’s eye or chop off his hand. This being set in the world of Game of Thrones means it’s not too crazy for such a fate to befall a character, so I appreciate how Telltale subverted that notion and actually made it out to be a joke played on Asher, Beskha, and Malcolm. They almost leave empty handed though, until Asher reveals they had a run in with biggest and most unruly of Daenerys Targaryen’s dragons, Drogon. This gains Asher an audience with Daenerys (which will play out in the next episode), but I have a sinking suspicion she’ll not offer much help and Asher might have a bit of a detour coming up. There aren’t a lot of decisions to make as Asher after the opening sequence battling the dragon, but there’s plenty of damage control with your quarreling travelling companions to be done instead.
The Whitehills taking a dump on Ironrath is getting a little too repetitive, as the latest annoyance Gryff is another in a long line of people threatening the Forresters with war and just so happens to have the last name of Whitehill or Bolton. But things with Ironrath change this time thankfully when a ‘secret’ meeting with Gwen Whitehill, who is currently looking after Ryon and visited the funeral at the end of “Lost Lords,” reveals there’s a traitor in the Forresters’ mists. She’s clearly not lying when she mentions the choice you made regarding a plan of action against the Whitehills, of either exiling Gryff or rescuing Ryon, in the small Forrester council meeting. My current bet says it was the Maester, but with GoT, who knows. But until Rodrik can snuff out the traitor, he has to make the ultimate choice of submitting to Gryff, at Gwen’s urging to stop a possible war, or not backing down. I chose submission, as hard as it was to do so, but it makes Gryff think he’s in total control and he’ll start to relax…and then the Forresters can strike.
Mira’s troubles at court get exceedingly worse, as Margaery essentially turns on Mira once she learns about Mira’s deal with Tyrion. And try as one might, she takes everything the wrong way, leaving Mira threateningly close to being shipped back home and not in a place to help her family. And just when a possible ally steps in to help, Joffrey has to go and die at his wedding to Margaery (thankfully) and Tyrion is framed for the murder, meaning Mira’s upcoming deal with Tyrion gets really toxic. But the ally, Morgryn, says his offer is still on the table if Mira can get the decree Tyrion had drawn up, so Tom (the Coal Boy who’s been helping Mira so far) assists her stealing the decree. He wants Mira to burn it, but she can choose to keep it. I wanted to burn it, but accidentally pressed the wrong button, so it’ll be interesting to see how important the decree becomes in the season.
As usual, not much has changed in regards to the controls and gameplay for the series, but I did like how they had players press X to say the vows of the Night Watch as a way to increase player agency; It helped to give players a way to connect to and understand Gared’s reservations about taking the mission beyond the Wall, as it was important for the player to say the vows by pressing X just as much as it was for Gared kneeling in front of the Weirwood tree. It’s a small thing, but it’s important for the Telltale team to make each moment and each decision have added weight and difficulty, so this was a inventive way of doing so. The music by Jared Emerson-Johnson (who scores the other Telltale games) has mostly felt like it could be part of the Game of Thrones show, if not just slightly off, while retaining his own distinctive flares heard across the other Telltale games. And yes, the oil painting look still doesn’t feel like the best choice, but it won’t be changing anytime soon.
Here are a few other things:
- While some of the game’s character models of their live-action counterparts feel off, unsurprisingly the CG Drogon translates much better into the game.
- All these familiar faces, while nice, have been slowly making the world of GoT feel just a little bit smaller or at least it feels like a little too much coincidence going on.
- I found it more funny than anything, but there was a glitch where the rain falling around Talia and Rodrik during their conversation at the end wasn’t getting stopped by the roof above their heads.
- Overall though, the glitches weren’t as bad as previous episodes, but it still doesn’t completely run smoothly.
The more mystical/fantasy aspects of the Game of Thrones series have begun to creep into the edges of Telltale’s tale, spicing up some of the characters and putting others in the path of new and exciting dangers. “The Sword in the Darkness,” has made this game series that much brighter and promises some great adventures ahead.
+ Gared’s mission
+ Asher adds humor
+ Mira’s court life gets worse and worse
– Repetitive issues at Ironrath