Telltale’s Game Of Thrones: Episode 4 – Sons Of Winter Review

Mother of dragons.

Despite a relatively strong introductory episode for the series, the following chapters of Telltale’s Game of Thrones have been less than stellar, with too much filler and nowhere near enough excitement to match the TV show. Now that we’re past the halfway point in the series, you’d expect for things to pick up.

While that’s the case for certain plot threads, with conspiracy and survival alike thrown in the mix as individual characters find themselves in precarious situations, it still has issues with the pacing in many parts, often featuring lengthy scenes and chains of dialogue options in substitute of decent gameplay. There’s a bit of Telltale formula burn-out going on here too, but you can’t help but feel that this isn’t quite up to the standard of their other series or George R.R. Martin’s source material.

Sons Of Winter brings another TV show actor’s likeness – and voice talent – into the fold, with Daenerys Targaryen and her dragons making their first appearance. While it’s natural that plenty of people will cross paths in the world of Westeros, particularly when they’re so important, you can’t help but feel as though the majority of these cameos have been shoehorned in. Despite that it doesn’t break the immersion or feasibility of the story too much.

It’s Rodrik’s arc once again that stands out from the rest – he’s quite a likeable character and it focuses on some of the more enjoyable themes from the fantasy epic, with politics playing a big role. We’re getting to know each of the situations a bit better by this point, so they do manage to embellish backstories and generally develop the characters better than in previous episodes, even if there is a tad too much exposition.

Action and stealth sections are rather easy to pass if you’re paying attention, and the threat of death is the least of your worries – you know that your character will be back on their feet at the last checkpoint if you fail. Thankfully, this is juxtaposed by some fantastically tense set-pieces where everything feels as though it’s at stake.

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The engine often shows its limits in this episode, with some rather poor and flat environments, along with clunky and awkward character movements marring the entire episode. This is balanced by some scenes which do look quite stunning, with that oil painting filter being used correctly at this point when framing a landscape from afar, rather than simply blurring close-up parts of the environments.

Thankfully, the majority of the voice-work here feels up to scratch – it won’t blow you away, but there’s certainly nothing to complain about. Overall, the sound design feels quite smooth, rather than awkward as it usually does, and conversations often feel more natural than in previous episodes as a result – though this is perhaps due to the lack of real choices presented in this chapter.

What’s Good:

  • Develops characters well.
  • Certain plot threads begin to work towards a conclusion.
  • Some beautiful vistas and shots achieved with the oil painting effect.
  • Brilliantly tense moments throughout.

What’s Bad:

  • It becomes obvious that failure poses no real threat.
  • Some poor and flat background environments.
  • Lacks meaningful choices yet remains dialogue heavy.

It’s obvious now that Game of Thrones simply won’t be as successful as Telltale’s other series. It’s been a worthy experiment, and there have been some enjoyable scenes in there, but it just misses the mark, featuring too many characters and not enough real substance.

However, Sons of Winter is certainly a more enjoyable episode than the previous two, with some decent character development. It often gets to the point much quicker with a lot less filler in between, while also taking characters to new places and surprising you along the way as we head towards the series’ conclusion.

Score: 7/10

Version tested: PS4

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