SNAKES… I HATE SNAKES
If you weren’t expecting Game of Thrones Episode Five: A Nest of Vipers to ramp up the action, then you’ve clearly not spent enough time in Westeros. As the penultimate episode of the season, Episode Five finally shows just how far some Forresters will go in order to defeat their enemies. While Telltale Games chose to give certain characters a bit more screen-time than others, it seemed warranted in order to build to a finale to rival the first episode of the season.
A warning: this review is relatively SPOILER-free if you have played up to Game of Thrones Episode Four: Sons of Winter.
This episode picks up precisely where the last left off: Rodrik comes back to Ironrath after a confrontation with Lord Whitehill, and he’s probably feeling fairly confident in his new strategic position. That is, until he discovers Ramsay Snow dining with his sister, Talia, in an otherwise empty hall. Suffice it to say that after the opening scene plays out, House Forrester is in no better a position to defend itself than before (surprise, surprise!).
As dire as things seem, Rodrik’s scenes in this episode are some of the most rewarding of the season. The different ways they can play out are entirely dependent on decisions made in earlier episodes, and they really make the story feel unique and personal. For a Telltale series, it has taken a while to get to the point where different avenues begin to reveal themselves, but now that it has, it’s welcome and exciting for what will likely prove to be a climactic season finale.
As stated earlier, some characters feel a little ignored in this episode. Although Gared’s scenes are intense, they’re ultimately unfulfilling and completely absent of any large decisions. Mira’s scenes are much the same way. King’s Landing is the heart of the Game of Thrones series, but her interactions in it feel lackluster and without the intrigue that is so singular to that city. As has been an issue in previous episodes, Mira’s scenes in A Nest of Vipers seem to be more inclined to mix in cast favorites from the HBO series than to actually make any meaningful strides towards how her story will end. Both Mira’s and Gared’s scenes in this episode feel more like “hey, you remember these characters, don’t you?” rather than actual steps towards the finale in their respective roles.
However, in one of Gared’s scenes it should be noted that there’s a quick mini-game where the player is asked to shoot a bunny with a bow and arrow. This felt very reminiscent of the tutorial where you were expected to fire the crossbow at target dummies earlier in the season, but this one got slightly more complicated with the added stress of an actual moving target. Suffice it to say that I failed miserably, but due to some slight technical difficulties. When I pulled the R2 trigger (on PS4) to ready the weapon, it didn’t indicate that it had been a successful attempt, so I released the trigger to attempt it again, and the arrow misfired, completely failing the mini-tutorial-game. The consequences were few (besides my hurt pride), but did bring back concerns about the actual gameplay elements involved in Telltale’s game design.
Finally, Asher’s plotline makes leaps and bounds from where it started. From having absolutely no idea where he was going to find an army, he ends up discovering some decent prospects and even seems like he could play an actually important role in how the story will end for the Forresters. There’s really not much more to say about Asher without giving away major spoilers. He’s fun, intense, and getting more and more interesting. We’ll leave it there for now.
However, there is a final decision to make at the end of the episode that is both cruel and brilliant. While it has seemed the entire season that Telltale would force players to end their story in a specific way, everything goes out the window in the final few minutes of A Nest of Vipers. Depending on what choice players make, the outcome of the season finale could be quite different.
The Verdict: 8.7 out of 10
Episode Five feels like preparation for the season finale in many obvious ways, but also takes a lot of time to prepare players for the final decision of its episode by basically ignoring half of its cast. Still, it brings to the table exactly what Game of Thrones promises (thoughtful storytelling in a brutal fantasy world), and that’s more than enough to keep us thrilled to the bitterly cold end.
For more information about what the score means, check out our official review scale.
Jordan Loeffler is Editor in Chief for MONG who drives a 2006 Pontiac Vibe with Minnesota license plates even though he lives in Portland, OR. She’s seafoam green, and she drives like a wave. You can also follow him on IGN and on Twitter.