House Forrester has been through a lot since Telltale's Game of Thrones premiered mere months ago. The characters have faced tough moral choices, they've picked sides, and they've attempted to claw their way out of a situation that spells certain doom for their House. The third episode of Game of Thrones, entitled The Sword in the Darkness, packs more of these high-profile choices into an episode than ever before, and will leave players wondering if they've placed their trust in the right people. It goes without saying that for most players, they probably haven't.
Mira Forrester is once again the focal point of most plot choices and drama at King's Landing. As the Royal Wedding approaches, things are heating up and players will find themselves caught between battles of the high court. It's a humbling reminder of how little House Forrester actually matters to the truly highborn lords and ladies, and players will be scrambling to secure favour without stepping on toes - but obviously, this isn't always achievable, and will lead to some tough choices players will wish they didn't have to make. Each scene at King's Landing is wonderfully done, and there are plenty of them in this episode - though the same can't be said for each scene with Gared Tuttle at Castle Black.
Here, Telltale's usually good storytelling takes a baffling turn. A character who has hated Tuttle since the beginning is giving him angry glares as they march. After Tuttle receives advice from Jon Snow that friends are important, players are able to become friends with their archenemy about three sentences later - it's out of place with the usual realism the characters inherit, and it's a chink in the armor of the storyline, making the characters far less believable. Thankfully, the rest of the Castle Black storyline is much better, with secrets, promises and a good bit of combat to keep gamers on their toes.
One of the main plots of the season - that is, the secret of the North Grove - finally gets a firm footing within the plotline, and it looks like the next few episodes will finally show a better glimpse at what could be a lifeline for House Forrester. Choosing who to trust with this secret is bound to have a lasting effect on the next few episodes, and Tuttle will be in for quite an adventure - although the game still hilariously gives him choice prompts to spill the beans to every character he encounters.
Rodrik Forrester's scenes are mostly a retread of the 'grin and bear it' gameplay we've seen from the last episodes regarding the tormenting Whitehill soldiers, who are painted in an absolutely unlikable light like Joffrey was on the HBO show. There's no redeeming qualities to any of the occupying Whitehills, and Telltale Games has vilified them as much as any game can. While watching the Whitehills do the same things over and over may be getting on some player's nerves by now, there's a classic Game of Thrones plot twist revealed near the end that sparks an interesting thought about the motives of House Forrester.
Asher's story predictably brings more of the action, as players will have come to expect from his exploits in the second episode. Telltale has done a great job portraying his unique relationship with Beshka, and his travels to Mereen will weave easily into the events from the HBO Game of Thrones television show. Indeed, Episode 3 places itself into the television show's narrative more so than any other episode has before, and fans of the show will appreciate how subtle and well-done House Forrester's inclusion into these events is. It never feels forced, and helps the world of Game of Thrones feel canonical and gigantic.
The third episode brings a lot of excitement and anxiety to the table, as every major plot choice and moral dilemma a player will face within the episode is typically between satisfying one character, and aggravating another. These choices will leave force the player to make new enemies or burn bridges between friends, and this is exactly what Game of Thrones is all about - nobody can really win, but chess pieces are constantly in motion. Players will be actively attempting to think two steps ahead, or simply fight for their immediate survival. It's an uncomfortable feeling, but it delivers a rush that very few other games can achieve.
Despite a few repetitive plot points and some weak character progression at Castle Black, the third episode more than makes up for its few stumbles by jam-packing the episode with tough choice after tough choice. Players are constantly going to be questioning themselves, doubting others, and sitting at the edge of their seats for the majority of their playthrough. Game of Thrones delivers intrigue like no other game can, and the third episode will leave players yearning to find out if their choices were the right ones to make - and that's how you know Telltale Games has done a phenomenal job.
Game of Thrones is available now on PC, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4 and PS3. It arrives on iOS platforms March 26th.