The second episode of Game of Thrones takes places on a journey across Westeros and Essos, providing plenty of action, intrigue and character development. Some moments of the episode run too slow, but plenty of pieces have been put in play in the giant chess board that is Westeros politics, and Telltale Games has done a great job once again capturing the feeling of constant danger thatGame of Thrones thrives upon. With an average runtime of around 90 minutes, 'Lost Lords' keeps the plot moving and raises the bar from the season premiere - find out why in our review below.
As expected from the Lost Lords trailer, Asher Forrester brings the majority of the fighting events for the episode, which throw multiple combatants at the player and utilize the familiar Telltale fight mechanics quite well. Asher's plotline also shows the games first look at Essos, with Yunkai in disarray after Daenerys takes over and frees the slaves that once lived a life without the tastes of freedom. The styles of the desert city offer a nice contrast to places from the first episode like King's Landing and Ironwrath, and deliver an especially welcome differentiation to the episode's introduction of Castle Black and The Wall - which features a scene on the top which gives the oil painting style game engine its best moment yet. That said, Asher is virtually all fighting and no talking, so there's a very limited plot progression from his end - and with only six episodes in the season, one wonders if he'll see Westeros by the season finale.
The chapters with Mira in King's Landing lend a tremendous feeling of importance to each conversation, and challenges players to question which move is the right one to make. Choices made by Mira will have lasting consequences in the series, and 'Lost Lords' really does go about showing this throughout the episode - the strength of House Forrester is set to be heavily impacted by her choices, and it's good to see Telltale Games really make it apparent that choices don't just lead players down contrasting paths, but ultimately lead to different destinations as well - something we were worried about with the shock ending of the season premiere. Mira's scenes are the highlight of the episode, and will offer both intense moral dilemmas and her own string of quicktime sequences.
The foretold surprise help from an unexpected source ended up being what we predicted, and although it does change the plot, the scenes in Ironwrath were comparatively slow, and served mostly just to emphasize how House Whitehill and everyone associated with them seems to be comically evil. The over-emphasis on their cruelty reaches a point of overkill, but it will test fans on their ability to keep their cool in tense situations - and also presents them with get a tough dialogue sequence right when they know a potential lifeline is within reaching distance. Gared Tuttle's scenes at Castle Black also echo the slowness of Ironwrath, as most of his scenes introduce other characters rather than provide entertainment. Kit Harrington steals the show here with his cameo appearance, though his character in-game is well-matched with Tuttle, who's first experience at Castle Black mirrors Jon Snow's from the show.
The graphical glitches of the first episode have been taken care of in the second, and we found no problems at all with the caption system or quickly teleporting characters. Without these distractions, the 90-minute episode flys by, especially with the action sequences feeling so natural and the voice actors keeping conversations feeling natural and smooth. The facial animations don't always match the vocal tones to a tee, but it's a minor gripe, and one that is overshadowed by an episode which compliments the stylized graphics with great vocal performances. Gamers will be in for a nice treat at the end of the episode, which finishes on a grandiose and epic note.
With Episode Two consistently building up character development, Telltale Games has done a great job improving over the flaws of the season premier and presenting an enjoyable, intense and well-written extension of the series. Though it does have its slow moments, the characters feel very real and actions are rife with the feeling of consequence. Whether it's trading secrets in King's Landing or trading blows in Yunkai, 'Lost Lords' will please Game of Thrones fans and keep them yearning for the third episode, which looks set to bring the hostilities in Ironwrath to a boiling point.
Game of Thrones' second episode, 'Lost Lords', is currently available on PC, Mac, PS3 and PS4. It comes out February 5th for Xbox 360 and Xbox one, and then February 6th for the iOS version.