Telltale’s Game Of Thrones Episode 5 Review


Developer: Telltale Games

Publisher: Telltale Games

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

Release Dates: July 21, 2015 (Windows, OS X, PS4, PS3); July 22, 2015 (Xbox One, Xbox 360); July 23, 2015 (Android, iOS)

(This Game of Thrones Episode 5 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.)


The first four episodes of Telltale’s foray into Westeros left me with mixed feelings. On one hand, it was difficult to pinpoint anything they were doing wrong. The plot was complex, the characters were engaging, and there was plenty of action, suspense, and good QTEs to keep me invested. And yet…it never reached the emotional highs I expected of Telltale. At the end of each episode, I felt that the Forresters were simply spinning their wheels–counting the clock down to their inevitable doom at the hands of the Lannisters or their seemingly infinite bannermen. Without a fabulous, gut-wrenching ending, I was worried this saga would be a flop.

That all changes in Episode 5.

A Nest of Vipers wrenched that gut in all the right ways. The episode opens with the agonizing conclusion to Episode 4’s climax–a twist that should seal the fate of Rodrik and those at Ironwrath for the worse, if they can’t come up with a plan quickly. The opening scene is incredibly painful to watch due to the actions of those involved, as well as the implications for Rodrik and his family. It’s too bad the “major choice” in this scene doesn’t actually matter, though those who are familiar with the books and show will understand before making it why it never could be.

Rodrik transcends in Episode 5 from watered-down Robb Stark into his own at last. I appreciated the firmness of his dealings with Elaena (after far too much wish-wash) and felt the pointed detail in which the revealed traitor recapped all of my poor decision-making from the last four episodes. Oh, and the best part? The traitor’s identity was based on my actions. And not just one of them–many choices, over the span of several episodes and multiple characters. Something I did mattered!

Mira’s role shrunk significantly from prior episodes, but only in size, not force. Once again, Mira must navigate the political landscape of King’s Landing as things slowly fall apart–with Tyrion imprisoned and Cersei on the attack. Mira’s two conversations can be highly satisfying or terrifically frustrating, depending on how well you know Cersei and Tyrion and how well you navigate the dialogue presented. The “correct” answers aren’t obvious; they never are. That’s what makes Mira’s story engaging. The voice acting from all three is superb, too!

Gared’s story is the weakest of the three, making very little progress on his journey toward whatever mysterious, life-saving thing is in the North Grove. He obtains a new ally, as well as a new enemy, and his action sequences keep the pace moving fast. I find his supporting cast frustrating: one is uselessly rude, the “wildling” has at no point ever acted as if he is a wildling and, in fact, is more useless than the actual wildling accuses me of being. Gared was interesting in Episode 1, but since then has devolved into a talking head followed by more nay-saying talking heads. I admire his courage, but if he dies to bears or whitewalkers in the next episode, I’ll find it hard to cry about.

Character development aside, Gared’s story is also lacking in any pertinent action. It continues to be lots of foot-tapping, waiting for the climax to finally see what’s in the grove. I’m sure we’ll get there next episode (we have to!). Here’s hoping whatever is there is a big enough payoff for the stall.

And finally, Asher. Asher’s adventures make up the bulk of the episode as he at last collects his army for a questionably-triumphant return. Of all the characters, Asher has achieved the most since his debut in Episode 2, and this climax is no exception. His friendship with Beshka (by far one of my favorite characters) remains witty and lovable, even during strife. Of all the relationships in the game, theirs feels the most real and consistent to their characters.

The pit fighters are deliciously terrifying and Asher’s fight QTE is the most complex and fast-paced yet, with a choice of weapons for each round of the fight switching up the direction the action takes and keeping things fresh and different on each playthrough. A crucial decision made in the pit could net you a powerful ally, or the respect of everyone else. And respect is needed across the sea, where a band of mercenary fighters could easily spiral out of control. Asher comes into his own as a leader this episode no matter what you do–what kind of leader is your choice. You’re given ample opportunity to decide, too, in the way you have him treat his friends, his family, and those who serve him.

Telltale could have ended the episode with Asher sailing for Westeros, and I would have been satisfied. But I’m glad they didn’t, because the ante has to be upped even more before the final episode.

Asher’s return and the final scene play host to the most difficult choice in the series so far, and possibly one of the hardest Telltale has offered in any of its games. The choice is highlighted by some killer dialogue, and Telltale digs the knife in even more by setting the choice in a sort of “out-of-body” manner. None of the characters involved are “making the choice”. It’s all you, the player. And that makes it ten times harder. Its aftermath, too, is tragically satisfying in its power and use of QTE to put you in control…one last time.

Provided Telltale doesn’t retcon the weight of the final choice by eliminating the other option early in Episode 6, what you do in the finale of Nest of Vipers has the potential to shape the entire next episode, and  the ultimate fate of the Forresters.


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You did it, Telltale. I’m hooked. I have to see how this ends. Nest of Vipers is the strongest episode so far, perfectly aligning the gamepieces for what promises to be an epic finale. Telltale has carefully chosen their hand here–literally anything could happen. The Forresters could win, or die…or some insane combination in between. It’s not even clear which direction their possible salvation might come from, with three different characters in strong positions to do something radical and game-changing. What’s coming next is anyone’s guess, and may (hopefully) be very choice-dependent–a feature that’s been lacking in prior episodes. If that’s true, I can only hope my decisions were the right ones.

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