Telltale’s Game of Thrones Episode 3 Review


Developer: Telltale Games

Publisher: Telltale Games

Platforms: PC (Version Reviewed), Mac, PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360, iOS, Android

Release Dates: March 24, 2015 (Worldwide: PC, Mac; NA: PS4, PS3); March 25, 2015 (Worldwide: Xbox 360 & Xbox One; EU: PS4, PS3); March 26, 2015 (iOS, Android)

(This Game of Thrones Episode 3 review will try to remain spoiler-free of this game’s important content, however it can make passing references to books 1-3 of the novel series A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin, seasons 1-3 of the HBO television series Game of Thrones, or the previous episodes of the game series.)

By the end of Episode 2 of Telltale’s Game of Thrones, there were a lot of questions running through my mind, and not just about the story. The first two episodes were intriguing and generally well-paced, but had a healthy share of flaws. The exploration was dull, there was a lot of filler, and though the story took some interesting turns there was a sense of utter helplessness and railroaded storytelling, as there seemed to be nothing you could do to improve the situation of the ill-fated Forrester family.

Fortunately, Episode 3: The Sword in the Darkness is here to turn to the tides completely, both for the Forresters and those of us in control of their destiny.

Words are wind

Telltale’s games are primarily story-driven, but certain gameplay elements are necessary to keep the action moving and keep the player in control. Last episode, I lamented that the exploration and optional conversations in their Game of Thrones games were considerably lacking. For Episode 3, I’m happy to eat my words.

Right off the bat, the game hands you locations to poke around in with interesting dialogue and revelations as your reward for being nosy. The remarks made are not at all necessary to the plot, but they frequently offer insights into characters or relationships that would not have been gotten otherwise. While most of these sequences are leisurely, there’s one near the end of the game that is so frantic I’m sure I missed some options. That’s not a drawback, though–it added to the urgency of the situation and the dilemma of someone with too many places to look and not enough time to look in them all.

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The action sequences are good and lively as ever, though there are fewer of them this time around. In Episode 3, I failed a few of the sequences first try. They aren’t particularly challenging, but the utter sense of panic the game instills might make for some shaky hands. Some failures are more deadly than others, though the practical consequences are almost nill. If you die, you merely get taken back a few steps and start over, but the important thing is that, in the moment, you feel the cost is high. Fortunately, Sword in the Darkness effectively immersed me both in dialogue and in activity.

That immersion is largely due to the choice system. For the first time in the series thus far, I felt somewhat in control. The previous episodes featured the Forresters as they were swept away by greater powers. Every choice I made before felt largely ineffectual, and it was difficult to tell the big decisions from the little ones, as everyone seemed just as likely to be killed from one option as another. In The Sword in the Darkness, however, the Forresters dig in their heels a little. Not only do I have choices that seem to affect the characters who make them and their family members far away, but each character was given a set of concrete goals to choose from, and accomplish. Player agency was in full effect this time, and it felt great.

Here be dragons

Previous episodes featured lots of intrigue, with little intensity and many questions. Episode 3 pulls out all the stops on the storyline, keeping a fast pace with plenty of unexpected twists. The story continues to follow four main characters of the Forrester family and friends, featuring them at The Wall, King’s Landing, the Free Cities, and Ironwrath. All four plots revolve around trying to keep the Forresters afloat as kingdoms clash around them and the North begins to fall beneath the rule of Roose Bolton, after the Red Wedding. The stories are interwoven, and it’s clear at this point that the actions or inactions of one character will influence the fates of the others. But you have to be careful–acting too boldly to save one character may have dire consequences for another.

Telltale continues to demonstrate their excellent story-telling prowess, including exploration and dialogue at fitting moments to keep the player in the driver’s seat of the story at all times.

Pacing is great, switching from character to character at appropriate times and balancing fast and slow moments, action and dialogue well. Telltale continues to demonstrate their excellent story-telling prowess, including exploration and dialogue at fitting moments to keep the player in the driver’s seat of the story at all times. As always, the episode features several smaller choices that influence dialogue and opinions, and a few major decisions that will change the outcome of the episode and the story as a whole. The major decisions in Episode 3 are much more clear-cut than before, with immediate consequences, and some of them are even on a timer for added urgency.

Overall, the storytelling in this chapter is even more stellar than usual, and lifted my hopes for Game of Thrones having a strong second half. Episode 3 is where the pieces begin to fall into place, with some crucial goals and plot points revealed. For the first time, I felt as though all four characters were pulling together for a difficult, yet achievable goal. If I could only ensure that all those pieces fit together at the right time.

Ironwrath and beyond

Surprisingly, the one place I felt this episode suffered was in the technical aspects. Compared to previous episodes, input during QTEs felt slightly delayed, and I missed a few inputs, sending characters to their doom. The graphics are beautiful at times, but in other shots the sharpness of the character models contrasted in strange ways with the background and took me out of the moment.

Furthermore, the sound in this episode was really strange. I played an entire scene with no background music for some reason, resulting in crowd noises and sound effects being abnormally loud. Some bits of dialogue ended abruptly or faded in strange ways. I’m not sure if this was bad recording or a glitch in the sound of the game itself, but it really ruined a few key moments.

Other than those blips, the technical aspects of the game remain as expected, with excellent voice acting both from the new cast of characters and the cameos of familiar faces from the series (and the final cameo is predictable, but awesome!). The score (when present) adequately paints the moments, and I was happy to hear hints of the main Game of Thrones theme during some of the more powerful moments of the story.


Game of Thrones Episode 3, “The Sword in the Darkness” is better than its predecessors, picking up the pace and momentum of the story and throwing plenty of curveballs to keep you engaged. It ends on cliffhangers for all four characters, so I’m really interested to keep playing when the next episode comes out. Most of all, I’m happy because Episodes 1 and 2 were rather open ended–I felt that the series could either be really good or a waste of time. Episode 3 has me almost completely convinced that this is going to be a fabulous series on the whole. Though some technical blips and a slight drought of QTE made it fall short of fabulous, Episode 3 is the best motivator I’ve had so far to recommend this series to others. If you haven’t started it yet, now’s a good time.

A copy of this game was provided to GameSided for the purpose of this review. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.

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