Telltale’s Game Of Thrones: Episode 3 – The Sword In The Darkness Review

Here be dragons.

After the second episode of Telltale’s Game of Thrones series, I was left quite disappointed, with the episode containing far too much filler and some downright boring gameplay elements. Episode 3 aims to rectify things and improve some plot threads by almost immediately throwing dragons into the mix, moving from the political to the fantastical with an impressive opening set-piece.

It’s not too long, however, before this episode falls into the same pitfalls that let down the previous episode. It never quite reaches the same depths though, and there are a fair share of enjoyable moments as the game starts to come into its own, using the setting to its advantage.

Where this episode does succeed is with how it cements its place in the plot of Game of Thrones which we know, smartly showing you different sides of characters and scenes from the existing lore, effectively giving a behind-the-scenes view of pivotal Game of Thrones moments, including a certain wedding. This is better fan service than any of the actor cameos so far and it’s here that the episode is at its best.

In terms of the individual plot threads, each is a bit of a mixed bag in this episode. There are some fantastic moments, and some revelations, but there are also those unnecessary filler sections that just don’t work nearly as well. It’s certainly moving forward, just not quite at the pace that you’d expect, and once again without much deviation in the choices – it’s almost as if they’re showing restraint rather than taking full creative liberty.

With a larger roster of playable characters than other Telltale games, it’s certainly in keeping with the TV show, which switches from one plot thread to another with ease, but here – at this point – they still feel a bit disconnected, even though your characters do belong to the same family. There’s often too much focus on one thing and not enough of the other, and Telltale just aren’t managing to weave the plot threads together in a streamlined way.

GoTEp3-1

Gameplay-wise, there’s nothing really unique here – it’s extremely dialogue heavy and there’s nothing as smart as some of the stuff Telltale are managing to do in their Tales from the Borderlands series. There’s a lot of short bursts of walking, some generic button pressing, and a few moments which feel shoehorned in for the sake of having something to actually play, or to make sure you’re paying attention.

There are moments – one in particular near the end of the episode – where the gameplay is better executed and things come together a bit more. It all looks quite promising towards the end and certainly gets its act together in the final section.

Visually, the oil-painting filter doesn’t feel as much of a disservice to the game’s aesthetic as it did in previous episodes, with some lucious backgrounds framing scenes well. The dragon is quite an impressive beast as well, although the fire effects are poorly executed, which doesn’t make sense when it’s quite dazzling elsewhere. Audio glitches also rear their head once again, with some conversations feeling rather unnatural as a result.

What’s Good:

  • Brilliantly uses the backdrop of the main series, showing you other sides of important scenes.
  • Visuals come together a lot better than in previous episodes.
  • Some great moments in all of the plot threads.

What’s Bad:

  • Still not moving fast enough, with filler sections prevalent.
  • Audio glitches make conversations feel unnatural.
  • Gameplay doesn’t offer up anything special.

Telltale’s take on Game of Thrones feels quite low-key compared to some of the goings on in the main series, but this episode begins to move away from that being a problem and starts using it to its advantage, as it shows you different sides of familiar situations. There’s still a lot of filler to get through, though, and it’s very dialogue heavy with little to offer in terms of unique gameplay. Hopefully, now that we’re getting past the halfway point, the next episode will be much more enjoyable.

Score: 6/10

Version tested: PS4

3 Comments

  1. Will dive into the third episode over the weekend, no doubt. As much as I like it, the story isn’t moving fast enough. Hopefully things pick up now that we’re moving into the second half.

    • That sounds a lot like my thoughts on every season of the TV series. :-P

  2. And the thoughts of many readers of the last two books…still HODOR!

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