Article first published as PlayStation 4 Review: ‘Game of Thrones: A Telltale Game Series – Episode 5: A Nest of Vipers’ on Blogcritics.
TellTale’s Game of Thrones: Episode 5 – A Nest of Vipers is the penultimate episode of the adventure game maker’s take on the hugely popular HBO series and its source material. Though the story, and main characters of the game are nowhere to be found in the show, TellTale’s series does feature appearances from the HBO cast. In Episode 5, all but the Night’s Watch’s Jon Snow make appearance, though Lady Margaery Tyrell is only seen and not heard. It is also worth noting that fan favorite, Peter Dinklage has finally seemed to hit his voiceover stride, in this episode.
Though nowhere near perfect, A Nest of Vipers seems to get the series back on track. After the wackiness of Episode 4, the fifth episode returns us to high stakes choices and consequences that Game of Thrones fans are accustomed to. That being said, the episode also reminds us that TellTale will only let the story branch so far. This is most obvious in Mira’s mission in King’s Landing, and even more so in the ending, which further reduces the playable character count. Despite its inevitability, it’s that ending that TellTale hopes will ensure that players come back for the final episode.
TellTale’s real strength is their storytelling, and since picking up a license for The Walking Dead, in 2012, they have been on a roll. By providing stories that a large audience wants to hear, despite their various development issues, they have had a string of successes. Except for the dialogue trees and quick time events, their proprietary game engine really struggles. Even the cut scene animations, in A Nest of Vipers often look jerky, detracting from the quality of the overall level of presentation. This is a problem with a game that is watched, much more than it is played.
Action and even exploration in Game of Thrones, along with the other TellTale games can be best described as clunky. Thankfully, TellTale doesn’t often integrate other game mechanics into their games, but when they do, they should probably be a little more forgiving, and not punish players for a “once in an episode” timed game mechanic. Though that particular incident in A Nest of Vipers doesn’t significantly change the story, so far, it does feel cheap. I can’t imagine that TellTale really wants players to quit and restart the game for something so small.
Including the aforementioned restart, along with replaying the last couple of chapters in an attempt to change the ending, my time with Episode 5: A Nest of Vipers was awfully short. Despite that, and even though the pacing is a bit uneven, Game of Thrones: Episode 5 – A Nest of Vipers for the most part, gets everything back on track. While the signature Game of Thrones high stakes have returned, so too has the reminder that you’re really just along for the ride. Like the chugging ascent to the apex of a roller coaster, Episode 5 gets the players ready for a freefall descent. Hopefully, it will all be worth the wait.