Telltale’s Game of Thrones Episode 4: “Sons of Winter” Review

Telltale’s Game of Thrones series follows Stark bannermen “The Forresters” (briefly mentioned in ASOIAF) throughout various settings and stories that have been previously critiqued for mirroring The Starks to a fault. This leads to a sense of predictability of what’s to come that only gets stronger in episode 4 “Sons of Winter.”

*Warning: Full spoilers for the episode follow*

The episode opens with Garred Tuttle facing the consequences for killing a brother at The Wall. It’s frustrating that no amount of reasoning or combination of options can dissuade Frostfinger from wanting to take your head, but hey – that’s Game of Thrones. Since there was no reasoning with him, I didn’t even bother wasting my options to kiss ass. I told him flat out that Britt (the father-murdering, Bolton-serving fuck) deserved exactly what he got. Which, in my episode, was kicking that bastard off the top of The Wall; the highlight of Garred’s story, thus far (in my opinion). Luckily, (and, somewhat predictably) you don’t have your head removed but instead escape with the help of Wildling/Brother: Cotter. As the two of you are escaping, you run into your other Brother with dialogue: Finn, and here is where the first major decision of the game occurs.

[For those unfamiliar with Telltale’s style, it’s a “choose-your-outcome” type, that allows players to act on their own and customize their own episodic experience.]

I will admit, it was a little disappointing that this was Garred’s “tough” decision to make because the choice was pretty clear; going North of The Wall with just you and skinny little Cotter to find the mysterious “North Grove” and you probably wouldn’t get far. That being said, I was with the majority and I brought Finn with me.

The three of you journey on to a wonderful scene in front of the Weirwood tree where you had previously said your vows. You reflect on your new title as a “deserter” and hear the bells that signals the Night’s Watch knows you’ve gone. The three of you flee farther North. This brings us onto a pack of all female (all Ygritte clones, honestly – they even sound exactly like her!) Wildlings. Cotter says they’re his “people” and can be reasoned with. So naturally, he’s interrogated and you have the choice to reveal yourself. I did, and a fight breaks out as Wildlings are not widely known for their diplomacy. I’m not one for killing women myself, so this wasn’t exactly my cup o’ tea. The action scene itself was well choreographed but it felt like I was stabbing my beloved Ygritte over and over again. Even when the Wilding girl stole the last of our supplies, I couldn’t bring myself to shoot her. I took the shot (and missed) and was left with the parallel of Ygritte/Jon Snow in my mind’s eye. The second part of Garred’s story finds another Wildling who in turn is Cotter’s sister and insists that The North Grove isn’t what we expect.garretxygritte

Onward to my personal favorite story (and playable character), Asher Forrester. Asher is a complimentary contrast to the series as he brings warmth (and dragons) to an already icy story. We open to an exchange with Daenerys (and Viserion – who is wonderfully animated. Great job, Telltale!) as she speaks with that fire that only a dragon can bring to her. I’ve read reviews where some found her “strangely hostile” but, it’s expected from The Mother of Dragons and her current situation. She asks for proof that you’ve actually seen/interacted with Drogon (as she’s heard similar stories countless times) and you make your decision. I chose to show Drogon’s tooth which brought concern to our Khaleesi. She fears for the safety of her young dragon insisting he is only a child (“a child that can breathe fire!” – Beskha). You strike a deal with The Dragon Queen detailing that if we can infiltrate Meereen for her sellswords to free the slaves, we can use them later to save House Forrester. The action sequences and new location setting bring a freshness to the episode as well as Beskha’s backstory which proves more interesting (again, my opinion) than most of House Forresters. The second part of Asher’s story consists of the action of infiltration and the decision to let Beskha have her vengeance. I was surprised to be in the minority of allowing her to kill her former master as we know Dany is going to do it anyway, so why not. Plus, I was sort of hoping Croft wouldn’t survive the infiltration so how would Dany know?! Dammit, he does and she will (which could null the agreement).

In King’s Landing, Sansa – er, I mean, Mira’s story, was the least action driven of the episode but entertaining nonetheless. Conspiring and eavesdropping on Tommen’s Coronation (which means we are in season 4!) to discover Lord Whitehill’s plan to raise his own private army against The Forresters was a gut-punch shared by Mira and players alike. Also, learning about Lyman Lannister’s drug (milk of the poppy) addiction and seeing Andros turn red after little handmaiden Mira stands up and says she will “destroy” him were both exceptional additions to what could’ve been a stale part of the story.

[Also, the decision in this segment felt rather mute because why would you want to betray Sera’s secret? Unless you take personal enjoyment out of bridge-burning, I was with the majority and kept her secret. Actually, I lied to the old perv and told him that I could vouch for her family.]

Finally, we go back to Ironrath. After submitting to The Whitehills to keep House Forrester safe, it is finally time to take back what is rightfully ours. Elaena Glenmore approaches you with her brother to seek your aid after her father has nulled your bethrothal in favor of Gryff Whitehill (who has spent the majority of the series yelling and kicking your crippled ass). They also lend you their elite fighting force who are trained both in archery and close combat. You re-enter Ironrath as Elaena comments on the status of your forlorn citizens. You hear muffled grunts and cries of agony from The Hall and needless to say, shit hits the fan. Gryff is beating your Maester claiming he allowed someone of his own to die. You engage with Gryff and have your option of dialogue to start the fight (I chose: come at me, bro!) and nailed that move Royland taught you to put Gryff on his ass. He’s outraged and begins going of as you dramatically signal The Glenmore’s guard by stabbing your cane into the floor. Silence falls after the thud of your cane and the doors burst open and surround the trespassers. Again, your choice of dialogue (“Kill anyone that moves!” queue arrow in the head). Then, the guards hold Gryff in front of you to deliver your justice (well, mine was more vengeance). Again, I was surprised I was in the minority again but I certainly maimed Gryff at least once. I didn’t a second time because, you know, an eye for an eye and I wasn’t trying to blind the world. That, and Lady Forrester and Talia’s looks of sheer horror kept me from such. Instead, I knocked him out as the guards carried him from my sight.

[The second major decision for Rodrick’s story is whether or not The Glenmore’s guard come with you to Highpoint as guard or stay and protect Ironrath. Given we learned through Mira that Whitehill is building an army against us, I had them stay and defend (along with the majority)]

The second part of Rodrick’s story takes us to the second new location of the episode: Highpoint (where the Stark-esque mirroring is considerably strong – you mean, I’m not in the Frey Towers?!) as we are invited by Lord Whitehill and therefore protected by guest right (right…..).

Anyway, this is without a doubt still the highlight of the episode. Whitehill attempts to extort you for your craftsmanship regarding the Ironwood in order to provide weapons to House Bolton…gladly! (Psych – burn in hell, Whitehill!) He basically states that since they still hold your younger brother Ryon hostage (as his “ward”) you don’t really have a choice. In that, we take delight in informing him that Gryff is currently rotting in a dungeon (heard from him, lately?). He retorts by bringing Ryon out and holds a rotisserie fork to his face stating he doesn’t much care for Gryff. [If you took the time to look at the Whitehill portrait (which, I quite liked. It actually made me feel a small pinch of guilt for maiming Gryff.) then you discover that Gryff was often bullied by his older brothers and his father was always to his rescue because “A Whitehill is still a Whitehill”.] This brings an insane amount of tension as you’re given four choices of action to save Ryon. The first I chose (out of curiosity and I didn’t really take the time to assess) was to fight. This led to the chain of events where Royland chucked an axe at Whitehill’s face (awesome!) then was stabbed through the back (not so awesome) as a rain of crossbow bolts came down taking out Lady Forrester and then you. As you look at her your final word mirrors a former character all too closely (…mother…) and the words “Valar Morghulis” consume the screen in blood red. So, I guess I died? First time that happened. I honestly thought it was part of the story but then I got a second chance! Here, I called his (Whitehill’s) bluff and was spared The Red Wedding scene.

Back to Ironrath as we find it uncomfortably empty and again hear a voice echoing from the hall…this one much more manic and sadistic than Gryff. We open the doors to find none other than Ramsay Snow sitting with our sister. It’s a given that this does not bode well for House Forrester as last time Ramsay was here, he stabbed you in the throat.

SOW_Ramsay_Great_Hall

All in all, I found it to be a very solid episode. It wasn’t my favorite, per se, but I did still enjoy it.

I give it an overall 3.5/5

Highlights:

– Dany the caring Dragon-Mother, Beskha’s backstory

– Glenmore warriors

– action sequences were smooth and well choreographed

– new locations: Meereen and Highpoint

– little Ryon yelling his house words: “IRON FROM ICE”

Not-so-greats:

– predictability, mirrors (if not copies) The Starks

– all female Wildlings (unless this has meaning later)

– some of the bigger decisions weren’t very impactful

My ranking of the episodes so far:

1) Iron From Ice (4.5)

2) The Sword of the Darkness (4)

3) Sons of Winter (3.5)

4) The Lost Lords (3)

The episode left me still pretty eager for the next installment: A Nest of Vipers. I was originally hoping for some Martells considering the title but the teaser has me a little deflated. Either way, I’m sure it will still be an enjoyable penultimate episode to get my Game of Thrones fix after Season 5 concludes.

Thanks for reading! I know we have some readers that also play so comment with your choices and what you thought of the episode below!

38 responses

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    1. I’ve just started Episode 3 so didn’t read the review because of spoilers, and having played 2 other Telltale games it does follow the pattern where it seems that choices for the most part are there purely for role-playing and very few have a real impact on the outcome. E.G. respond to Character X in one way and it says “X will remember that” only for Character X to die 5 mins later… well, great!

      They are quite immersive though in whichever game/s you play, I just hope it turns out to have more variable outcomes than TWD for example and choices come back to properly influence events for better or worse by the end of the season.

      Episode 4 is supposed to be released for my system tomorrow.

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    2. I enjoyed the episode as I enjoyed all the others before it.
      I am a little disappointed I feel like my choices don’t matter at all, even less than TWD.
      Still, I have grown to like the characters and the story, and can’t wait for the last two episodes.

      btw I think it was Viserion with Daenerys, not Rhaegal. I am pretty sure I heard her say so.

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    3. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the biggest problem this series has is going out of its way to mirror the canon Stark storyline so much. Which — I’ll say again — is entirely unnecessary in such a rich world as this one with so many possibilities for original ideas. I cringed more than once at the Red Wedding-esque/Whitehill scene.

      This episode rubbed me the wrong way. All the major things that happened (at least in the Ironrath story) were completely undone again by the end. You spend the entire episode making alliances, fortifying your house, standing up to the Whitehills.. and then in the last three minutes of the game you walk in to find Ramsay has undone everything and you’re still his bitch. Great. We’re back to where we were in episode 2. No progress.
      And speaking of Ramsay, I’m really, really, REALLY starting to get sick of this character. The show itself has jumped the shark with Ramsay trying so hard to make him a villain, and this game is only mimicking that to the nth degree and making it worse. He’s a character we KNOW we’ll never kill. We KNOW we’ll never be the ones to stab him through the face. So why taunt us so much with him? Why utilize him so much instead of another original character? This is why I don’t find Ludd Whitehill as unlikable – because I know we’ll get to drive a sword through his stomach sometime down the road. Although I will say that option they give you at one point to fight him (and kill him) while also getting killed yourself and getting the game over screen (basically telling you that wasn’t canon) was a complete dick move and a pox on whoever put that option in the game.

      ALSO . . . Rhaegal is green, not brown and red. Get your shit together, Telltale.

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    4. It’s ‘Gared Tuttle’, not ‘Garret’, ‘Lyman Lannister’, not ‘Lynol’, and you seem surprised we’re in season 4. We have been since late in the first episode of the game. Also, the family are the Glenmores, the twenty archers they brought are their ‘Elite Guard’.

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    5. Renly’s Peach,

      I don’t think you know what “jump the shark” means. Also, trying so hard to make him a villain? Not as much as the original author, mind you, because in the books the Boltons are so over-the-top crazy and sadistic they had to be toned down for the show.

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    6. Thanks
      Schrödinger’s Cat! Overlooked those. Same with Viserion
      Margor

      I thought it was a bit redundant that they would name their guards that so that makes more sense.

      I wasn’t as much surprised that we’re in season 4 as much as reminded (because we were also reminded last episode when Tyrion was arrested). I think canon events like Tommen’s coronation help us relate where we are time-wise in Game of Thrones (the show) .

      I agree Ramsay’s character is being a bit drawn out and I’m not sure what his fate will be in regards to House Forrester as
      Renly’s Peach,
      made the point that we won’t be the ones to kill him.

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    7. Morgoth,

      I don’t think YOU know what I know about jumping the shark, so refrain from telling me what you think I think about knowing things. Thanks!
      And nice try to shit on the books, but no. The Boltons in the books are background characters; Ramsay is treated as that, a background character whose horrific deeds we mostly hear about from other people but rarely see. Most are likely exaggerated. He’s a sadist and a killer and HAS done some of those bad things, but there is some reason and sometimes even restraint behind his actions.
      In the show (and this game) he’s a focal villain raping main characters on screen (stuff that never happened in the books) and acting like a bad version of the Joker from Batman. And I guess in this game’s universe he has nothing better to do than constantly harass a minor, broken lordling house that lives in the woods? No Moat Cailin to free? It’s not subtle and its getting tiresome. He flew straight over the shark’s head.

      Aryamad,

      No Robert? Really, zoo people?

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    8. all the criticism about choices not really making any difference is justified, but Telltale has an unwinnable situation here…

      The game is supposed to intertwine seamlessly with TV canon, yet you already know nothing “important” is going to happen in any medium other than the TV show itself. So you’ll never kill anyone of any real importance in Westeros, nor marry them; you’ll never make or break any alliances of any significance; you’ll never become an integral part of any main character’s camp, etc…

      So yes, if you’re looking at this purely from the standpoint of a game reviewer, it’s very fair to complain that this series is more “interactive storytelling” than it is legit adventure game or RPG… but how could it possibly exist otherwise?

      If anything even marginally important to the overall story was to happen in these games, you would have 99.9% of the TV viewership totally pissed off about being left in the dark for the sake of some game they don’t care about.

      And then there’s also the whole fact that it would be, you know, completely impossible… if you want choices to have “meaningful results” then the whole idea of “canon” goes out the window, as the entire Game of Thrones story becomes different for each person dependent on what choices they’ve made in a videogame. That can’t be allowed to happen. I’m sure the day will come where such boundaries are blurred to good effect, but GoT is obviously not the appropriate platform for such an experiment.

      Fix it by adding more original non-show/non-book characters and storylines of importance, you say? Okay, maybe… but if the focus is on all-original material, what’s the point of even slapping the Game of Thrones license on it? Sure, it allows you to do “big” stories in an already-established and well-loved universe, but then it once again ends up making no sense because, hey, why aren’t the characters in the show talking about these “big” events and characters that happened in-game?

      As I said, it’s an unwinnable situation for the developer and they’re doing a pretty commendable job of walking the tightrope.

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    9. Morgoth,

      ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
      Don’t come a-knockin’ if you’re not prepared for it.

      Harma Dogememe:
      Fix it by adding more original non-show/non-book characters and storylines of importance, you say? Okay, maybe… but if the focus is on all-original material, what’s the point of even slapping the Game of Thrones license on it? Sure, it allows you to do “big” stories in an already-established and well-loved universe, but then it once again ends up making no sense because, hey, why aren’t the characters in the show talking about these “big” events and characters that happened in-game?

      These aren’t mutually exclusive, though. They could have had a few prominent characters show up like they already have (Tyrion, Cersei – these are fine) but still kept the story fresh. Instead of following Daenerys to Meereen and rehashing her established storyline, why not start at Yunkai and instead go to Pentos? Or Norvos? Or Volantis? Sellswords are everywhere. Instead of mimicking the Stark’s story to a T (down to a Red Wedding reenactments) why not go to Bear Aisle? Or Torrhen Square? And meet new and interesting characters there while still referencing things like Bolton’s takeover or the Ironborn occupation?

      You can still call this a Game of Thrones game without copying the show so much.

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    10. Aryamad,

      No Robert? Really, zoo people?

      Yeah, they dropped the ball with that one. Well, at least maybe it’s a good thing they don’t have a Jaime to go along with Cersei.

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    11. Renly’s Peach:
      Morgoth,

      ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
      Don’t come a-knockin’ if you’re not prepared for it.

      Not prepared for it? Don’t think too highly of yourself. I’ve just learned to not waste my time arguing with individuals such as you on the internet. There’s no debate to be had, you’re totally right and I am wrong, at least in your world.

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    12. What happens when you choose to bring the Glenmores with you? I cant find a single walkthrough with someone picking that option.

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    13. Renly’s Peach,

      Yeah, that’s all fair… but where you and I would say, “Sweet, a game about Pentoshi sellswords!” the average fan would cry, “wtf how can they call dis a GOT game when it doesn’t even have kahleesy or john snow???” (or only has brief establishing scenes with major characters)

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    14. Harma Dogememe,

      Well both Walking Dead games had nothing to do with either the comics OR show, and people loved them. Hell, I personally prefer the games to the tv series. I think the only characters from the show to make a brief cameos was that old Hershel farmer man and the young Asian guy.
      But GoT is a different beast altogether, so you may be right.

      Morgoth,

      Then don’t disagree with people with snarky pomposity? Idk. Arguments tend to happen when you openly disagree with a person. So.. you know..

      although I am totally right in this case. :3

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    15. Harma Dogememe,

      Yeah, TWD is a great example of how you can be separate and still canon. I think the only thing that can be said for GOT in it’s sense is that it is pretty much the same story we’ve already gotten from the show only from a slightly different perspective. They could’ve started in the south for instance instead of picking a northern family that so closely remembers The Starks.

      I envisioned it so be like TWD so I was squealing a bit when we started outright at the Twins during The Red Wedding. Instead, I feel like we’re being taken on the same(ish) journey that The Starks have already taken. They even have the same amount of family members right down to the gender. If they were going to go that far they might as well have given us our own direwolf.

      I think that is why Asher is my favorite so far because his storyline is the most different from any Stark. I also really like his relationship with Beskha.

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    16. What particularly bugs me about these games is how they completely disregard the fact that you’re playing members of a pretty minor house in order to mimic elements from the TV show. House Forrester is sworn to House Glover, for crying out loud, but of course they have a Small Council – not a Family Council, or a Council, but no, a Small Council. Then, to rule your tiny piece of land, you get to choose a Sentinel – a Hand. And now equally minor House Glenwood shows up with an Elite Guard, which incidentally looks entirely like something out of Lord of the Rings, not Game of Thrones – something which also happens to be true for the Ironrath design itself, by the way.

      Another problem is the fact that, while the game includes certain main characters from the show, it loses their entourages. Jon Snow is the only established character hanging around Castle Black. When Asher sees Daenerys, Missandei, for example, isn’t present. And the mission briefing given by Croft this episode should have been given by Daario in show canon. This is of course mainly a budget thing, but it is nevertheless impairing immersion as part of the show universe.

      Finally, regarding suggestions the games should showcase parts of Martin’s universe that have not yet been part of the TV series or only a minor part of it: This certainly would be rather interesting, but sadly it’s too early for that. They can only go places which they can be sure will not play any role in the show going forward. Otherwise they’re in danger of breaking canon. For example: Let’s say they include Highgarden in the games, only to later find out it looks completely different on TV. Or they include an as of yet uncast character from the books, only to have him later show up in the show. Therefore these kinds of scenarios are something to be explored by other games or media once the show has run its course, if at all.

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    17. Couldn’t they do something like “The Hedge Knight” or another historical event? Maybe it’s not mainstream enough…

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    18. One of Roose Bolton’s leeches:
      What happens when you choose to bring the Glenmores with you? I cant find a single walkthrough with someone picking that option.

      They just go in the room with you to meet Whitehill. He brings out Ryon and eventually threatens to kill him with a knife and you’re given four options. I only tried two of them. The first was to have the Glenmores kill him which results in a bloodbath with Whitehill’s men and everybody dies. The second I tried was call his bluff and that worked, for now.

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    19. Mackan,

      I’m hoping The Hedge Knight gets made into some sort of game or cartoon or anime or something (other than that crappy comic), and that it completely divorces itself from the show. I really want to see Westeros through other eyes besides HBO’s.

      God, can you imagine seeing GRRM’s Red Keep? That throne room in all its glory? UGH! This is what I originally thought the Telltale game would be like.. Alas..

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    20. Was actually supposed to be released here yesterday (27th) but still not available except for the PS4 version.

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    21. Renly’s Peach,

      Shut up you moron,you’re one of the reasons i don’t enjoy coming here anymore with your constand negativity in all articles,it’s not anybody’s fault here that your mommy and daddy didn’t love you when you were a child and now you are bitter at everyone in the world .

        Quote  Reply

    22. Renly’s Peach,

      BTW , i knew plenty of smart asses internet figures like you,but when it came to real life they were a bunch pansy,scared up little girls who would have cried if you even slapped them once in the face .

        Quote  Reply

    23. Arya Havin’ a larf?:
      Was actually supposed to be released here yesterday (27th) but still not available except for the PS4 version.

      Hooray, finally I can get it!

      urangutan21
      You know you’ll likely get banned for that – was it worth it? Just ignore posters who annoy you, I know what you mean about negativity and trolling on this site but no point getting worked up about them.

        Quote  Reply

    24. Have now played it and enjoyed it, agree for the most part with Nate’s assessment. Made the same choices for most things but thought it unwise to start a fight at Chez Whitehill. Difficult choice WRT Beskha and her vengeance, I too in the minority and wonder if that’ll bollix things with Dany now…

      Had a big issue where the game wouldn’t load properly (PS3) just giving everlasting black screen after loading episode 4 so I had to re-install the whole thing and NOT upgrade to version 1.07 and then it was OK though with a few glitches such as long pauses mid sequence, stutters and clipped dialogue. Fortunately no problems with the saved games. Telltale need to up their quality control as this king of showstopper happened to The Wolf Among Us IIRC.

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    25. Really enjoying this game and obviously I’m a later reader to this review…

      People are complaining that it mirrors the Starks too much. As a Stark fan I’m enjoying that fact….

      ….But having only just read through the Codex, seems that “Uncle Malcolm” isn’t Lord Forresters brother as I previously thought but is rather Lady Forresters brother (formerly of the Southron Branfield House)

      This obviously opens up heaps of possibilities for future editions of the game. Eg given he and his sister Lady Forrester are the two survivors he’s basically Lord Branfield really and so effectively Jon Connington

      Depending on whether they decide to mimic the books and do an Aegon invasion or Dany to Westeros or whatever, they can really open up the Southern storyline in time by turning Ashers arc into a reclamation of the Branfield lands (similar to how JonCon retakes Griffins Roost)

      That would be great as obviously it would open the game up to visiting Dorne, Stormlands, the Reach etc similar to how Gared Tuttles arc has opened up north of the Wall

      These six episodes are really about setting the whole thing up. Telltale seem ot have a lot on their plate with a variety of games for popular TV shows like TWD but if they take the time to make these into fully fledged games with greater variation and scope it can potentially be really something

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    26. Another thing is the music, some great music incorporated from the show when you are around the Weirwood in particular, gives the whole thing a great sense of atmosphere

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    27. Harma Dogememe,

      Pretty much this

      I enjoy it in the same way I enjoy how fictional heroic characters are built into real historical events, eg the Sharpe series, the guys progress pretty much mirrors that of Arthur Wellesley/Lord Wellington and he wins great renown in Wellesleys/Wellingtons most famous battles in India and then Europe

      From this perspective I can’t fault them for adopting the same approach. Eg Forresters mirror the Starks. They can put some twists of their own in though, eg Whitehills are seemingly the Boltons but I reckon they will end up on the wrong side and both houses will have to align.

      They’ve mixed it up a bit though, eg Uncle Malcolm is rather like Jon Connington and Asher can end up a bit like Young Griff at the head of a small Sellsword army as I’ve said above which hopefully not only opens up the Mereen storyline but the Southron one too in due course

      It gets tricky having to switch between show and book canon though, eg do they ignore Deepwood Motte like the show did re Stannis’s progression or do they go through book Canon and have it liberated which affects the calculus of the Wolfswood region. I suspect this might all be in season 6 though

        Quote  Reply

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