By Marty Mulrooney
Game of Thrones: Episode 3 – The Sword in the Darkness is the third episode of a six-part episodic adventure game series from Telltale Games, creators of The Wolf Among Us and Tales from the Borderlands. In this latest instalment, the saga of House Forrester becomes even more desperate as the Whitehill occupation in Ironrath reaches boiling point. Important decisions must be made in quick succession, with choices presented that are less clear-cut than ever…
After a competent but somewhat underwhelming second episode, The Sword in the Darkness picks up the pace immediately, raising the stakes and bringing with it some wonderful storytelling moments and plot developments that should help calm any fears that Telltale Games is playing it safe. Rest assured, if you’re a fan of the hugely popular HBO television show of the same name and you’ve been as of yet undecided whether to start playing – it’s time to pick up that gamepad.
The episode begins with mercenary for hire Asher Forrester journeying to Meereen with his partner in crime Beshka and his uncle Malcolm, the Lost Legion hot on their trail and thirsty for blood. Asher didn’t get much game time last episode, so it’s encouraging that he’s not only the first character you control, but also brings a wry sense of humour and hangdog smile to the proceedings. The dialogue is brilliant between the trio and it will be interesting to see how their dynamic continues to shift and develop in future episodes.
Of course, it no doubt helps excitement levels rise considerably when within minutes of the episode kicking off the trio stumbles into Drogon’s lair, facing the young dragon head-on as the Lost Legion piles into the dark cave behind them. Telltale doesn’t have the most powerful game engine in terms of graphical ability, but it’s more than capable of delivering some beautifully choreographed action sequences to accompany all of the smaller moments of chit-chat and continues to impress here with it’s watercolour painting approach to the Game of Thrones world.
The stories of Gared Tuttle (who must now choose between the oath he swore to the Brotherhood of the Night’s Watch and House Forrester) and Mira Forrester (who continues to sneak around King’s Landing putting herself at considerable risk) are as engaging as ever. Gared is faced with the unbearable situation of the man who murdered his family becoming a fellow brother – and therefore untouchable – and Mira must do whatever she can when faced with the aftermath of the ‘Purple Wedding’ and the loss of Tyrion’s aid. Each character must make decisions that mix practicality with sheer emotion and players will no doubt agonise as the timer at the bottom of the screen continues to grow smaller.
Yet it’s the current Lord of Ironrath, Rodrik Forrester, who has the most difficult decisions to make. Superbly voiced by Russ Bain, he must face the gradual downfall of his house first-hand as he waits for distant help to arrive from Gared (who needs to bring an army) and Mira (who must help politically). One of the most difficult decisions to make? Whether to yield and show weakness to evil men, even if only to buy time, in a world where the weak don’t last five minutes. When you’re genuinely torn whether to press Square, Circle, Triangle or X, you know Telltale Games has done a brilliant job of capturing the essence of the source material. The Sword in the Darkness is a return to form, with an ending that will give fans of the show genuine chills – bring on Episode 4! Khaleesi, Mother of Dragons… we’re ready.
9 OUT OF 10