Telltale’s Game of Thrones series has six episodes in its first season, which is one more than their other properties, all of which have felt quite robust and distinct episode-to-episode. And with each episode seeming longer – the first being two to three hours, and this second episode clocking in at over two hours – I was waiting for the seemingly inevitable poorly paced “filler” episode, hoping that it would never arrive.
But I didn’t expect it so soon. Episode two of the season has its moments but ultimately falls short, with too much padding and uninteresting plot threads which don’t quite match the might of the impressive debut.
It’s jarring that you start with a new character – and in a completely different setting – after the conclusion of the previous episode, and like some of the clunky dialogue, it feels quite unnatural, almost immediately forcing you into a rather unexciting QTE battle. You can perhaps begin to tell where it’s heading, and it certainly matches the show’s early season in switching between characters, but this is a rather ineffective method of bringing you back into the game’s world.
Then, when you finally do see a familiar face from the first episode, he’s subjected to one of the most padded out and boring sequences imaginable. It barely moves the plot forward or offers little in the way of character progression, even if meeting another favourite character from the main series – likeness and all – will excite fans. Some of the fan service seems quite arbitrary and unnecessary at times, and it’s at the points where the game branches out to do its own thing that it’s at its most interesting.
Just as long as doing its own thing doesn’t involve pulling the same tricks as before, something that this episode unfortunately does, both in terms of Telltale’s overall mechanics and even just the previous episode. Rather than the repetition being an effective callback, it feels like they’re already beginning to lose their way; you’ll hear the same arguments rise again, fight similar battles, and there’s a sense of déjà vu in more than one sequence.
It’s not all bad though, and while it never quite reaches the heights of its predecessor, there are some great moments in the episode, with a newly playable character stealing the show and moving into the limelight. This, combined with an interesting, albeit drawn-out, secondary plot, does have some superb sections which are well worth experiencing. It’s very political, to say the least, and anyone interested in the lore and style of the series will revel in it.
Towards the end of the episode, things clear up a bit and the plot threads begin to tie together, even with characters strewn across the land of Westeros, and there’s a glimpse of hope for the forthcoming episodes. Despite this, Telltale’s faux-choices are more prevalent than ever, and the episode does fall short when it attempts to be emotive.
With the oil-painting effect back in full force, some of the backdrops are simply gorgeous, but when this is employed in certain scenes, character models and objects in the foreground become blurred. It does evoke a sense of scale when you visit The Wall, for example, but it’s really not utilised well enough, with little regard for how it looks as a whole.
Ultimately, Game of Thrones will be measured as a complete series, and not every episode can be as good as the last. However, this episode is about as close to being filler as it gets for Telltale – sure, a couple of the plot threads are enjoyable, and one of the new characters is quite interesting – but these moments are few compared to the abundance of boring references and pointless tasks to be done. We could’ve got this one out of the way in well under an hour without all of the padding, and had a better time doing it.
Version tested: PS4