– Spoiler Review –
“A Nest of Vipers” is another great and solid entry in Telltale’s Game of Thrones series, where strangely enough the big reveal we were all waiting for–who the traitor in the Forrester small council is–turns out be a letdown, while the ending provides about as much a shock as the first episode’s ending. With this being the penultimate episode, the choices you make (and have made) will result in varying differences in each player’s final episode, which is what you really want and hope a game from Telltale can deliver.
(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!)
The episode picks up right where “Sons of Winter” left off, with Ramsay at Ironrath to cause havoc only like he can, as he butchers Arthur Glenmore in a rather gratuitous matter (though not too far from things seen in the show) that ends with Arthur’s guts hanging out. Ramsay does all this just to tell Rodrik he’ll be staying out of the feud between Whitehills and Forresters for the time being, and the whole scene ends up feels like another retread of the ‘Forrester at Ironrath getting kicked down a couple notches’ trope they’ve been playing at each episode. While poor little Talia has had to watch Ethan die and now Arthur in such a horrible fashion, Elaena is spared seeing Arthur until afterwards and Rodrik steps up to comfort her; And by comfort I mean they finally hook up. Their sex-filled honeymoon is over when Talia breaks the news that she not only identified the traitor from the small council, but that they are chilling in the main hall.
Unfortunately, the bolder or more interesting traitor would’ve been Duncan or (my personal favorite) the Maester, but it ends up being Royland (However, I just learned after writing this section of the review that the traitor could’ve been Royland OR Duncan, as it’s simply going to be whomever wasn’t chosen as Sentinel by Ethan way back in Ep. 1, but having that knowledge doesn’t diminish my thoughts on ‘my’ traitor). While not altogether disappointing, his reasoning is a little too backwards even for him (and logic) it seems, as he believes Rodrik has done such a bad job saving the family the only way to save them would be to sell them out. Since he’s been such a detractor of all the decisions you make as either Ethan or Rodrik, he suddenly felt like the easy choice; I had previously written I would find it hard to imagine him as the traitor exactly because he was so loyal to the family, but now he’s taken that loyality and warped it with some messed up logic that comes off as weak writing. Rodrik gets to choose to have Royland killed or spared, after either promising Talia he’d do so or not, and it would’ve been an easy choice to kill him until he reveals he has important information regarding the Whitehill’s plans for Asher. I chose to spare Royland to learn the information, but the game’s final scene mostly undoes the importance of that decision. More on that in a bit.
Meanwhile, Gared, Slyvi, Cutter, and Finn rest awhile at Slyvi’s camp. She’s a very headstrong young girl who wants nothing to do with Gared’s plans to search for the North Grove and instead wants to team up with Mance Rayder as he marches the freefolk towards the Wall. And even though Cutter has been supportive of Gared so far, he doesn’t want to abandon his sister again and decides to do whatever Slyvi wants (which is probably for the better because she’s the stronger of the two). Gared does his best to win her respect and get her to help him in his journey by rabbit hunting, but it all ends up not mattering once the White Walkers make a surprise attack. If you didn’t have Finn come along (or even had the option to) he might still be alive at Castle Black, but here he takes a spear to the gut while Gared, Slyvi, and Cutter make a mad dash away. They set out towards the North Grove only because they have no other option thanks to the White Walkers, which has forced Sylvi’s hand to make the decision to help Gared. I’ve been back and forth on Gared’s sequences and this is one of those times I didn’t like it so much, while Sylvi has already become a more interesting character than Gared in my eyes. Hopefully the reveal of what exactly the North Grove is ends up being better than the traitor’s reveal.
While Mira got to finally take action and put her game of thrones skills to use last episode, she got caught in Cersei’s much larger, but confusing, web. Sera, Mira’s only friend outside of Tom at King’s Landing, decides her impending marriage and Margaery’s disapproving gaze are more important to her and ditches Mira. It’s not a completely out of left field decision from Sera, as her big secret about being a bastard and how this life is giving her a chance to forget her true identity makes this an easy thing to see Sera doing, but it’s about the only thing that happens in the rest of Mira’s segments that makes any sense. Cersei shows up and wants Mira to get Tyrion to reveal who he’ll have stand as witness in the trial against him for killing Tywin Lannister, in exchange for Cersei ‘helping’ out the Forrester family. In the visit with Tyrion, he very quickly figures out what is going on, so I chose to have Mira confirm his suspicions against Cersei’s specific orders, and he reveals there’ll be no witness and that Cersei already knew it. What I took away from all of this game of thrones-ing is Cersei wants Margaery’s association with Mira to bring Margaery down a few notches, but honestly I don’t know for sure and I only arrived at that conclusion after I sat on this episode a couple of days. Because otherwise, if Cersei wanted to discredit Mira or get Margaery to dump her, she didn’t need to do anything since Mira was already doing a good enough job of it on her own while trying to help her family.
Asher continues to have the most entertaining segment, though his return to Westeros comes with some giant consequences. Daenerys reneges (to a point) on their deal and instead of giving Asher the Second Sons she promised, she awards him with some gold. Armed with a bucket of gold, his wit, and Beskha, Asher makes for the deadliest of fighting pits to secure himself the army he so desperately needs to bring back to protect his family. It turns out this is where Beskha fought as a slave, but now her fellow slaves have taken over the pits and continue to fight for fun. Their leader is Amaya, probably my favorite new non-Forrester character this game has introduced so far, who has a chip on her shoulder about Beskha fighting her way out of freedom and leaving everyone behind. Amaya says the only way Asher can win her pit fighters over is to prove his worth in battle against their best: Bloodsong (who happens to have some of the best verbal insults of anyone in the game series so far). After an okay QTE fight, with some fun weapon switch up, Asher makes a rousing speech and gains himself some deadly killers to bring home. However, no matter your choice in this episode’s final moment, he’ll regret coming back.
Remember how I said Royland’s info was basically rendered useless by the ending scene? Well, whether he tells you anything or not, Rodrik is waiting for Asher upon his return, but so too are the Whitehills (at least if you spare Royland you’re expecting a fight). The Whitehills ambush the happy family greeting and in the frenzy of the attack both Rodrik and Asher get trapped on one side of the town’s heavy gate. Together they are able to get it open enough for them to crawl under, but they both realize one of them needs to stay behind so the other may escape and fight another day. I was expecting something big in the penultimate episode, but I was not expecting it would involve choosing between two major characters! It wasn’t an easy to decision to make (to say the least) as I’ve grown to like both characters for their own specific reasons, however my ultimate choice was made not due to who would be the better leader for the Forresters ahead, but who I liked better and who I thought would make for a more interesting story going ahead if they lived: Asher. But will Asher be the one to secure the Forrester’s future (for the time being) or will he be the one to bring the walls of Ironrath crumbling down? The finale might just give us an answer.
Here are a few other things:
- Where exactly is the Maester anyhow? There wasn’t a single mention of him in the entire episode.
- With two of the 5 total playable characters already dead, could we be controlling a new character in the final episode? The best candidate would likely be Malcolm Branfield, as they have some potentially interesting story to tell in regards to whatever this mission is that Daenerys has Malcolm on.
- The Game of Thrones wiki page points out it’s a glitch which prevents Gryff’s character model from looking injured if you made Rodrik give him a beating in the previous episode (which I did).
- Had a couple audio glitches this time around, but thankfully nothing that made the dialogue impossible to understand.
- I would like it to be known I chose not to try to stab Ramsay because I know he’s still alive on the show at this point and because nothing good can ever come from interacting with Ramsay.
- Bloodsong and Amaya introduce some more, and always appreciated, diversity.
While some of the Forresters’ segments didn’t hit the mark, “A Nest of Vipers” entertains as the other episodes before it, all the while shuffling the playing field and making player choice result in varying differences leading into the finale. With family members dropping like the Starks, will the Forresters live to fight another day?
+ The final choice to make
+ Diversity with some new characters
+ Decent set-up for finale
– Traitor reveal (due to my earlier decisions)=disappointing