I don’t like spoilers, so this review of “A Nest of Vipers” is as spoiler-free as possible.
If you’re feeling the loss of Game of Thrones during the off-season, I would like to remind you that Telltale has a game of the same name to ease your pain. Or really, to bring you more pain. The fifth episode of Telltale’s Game of Thrones series, “A Nest of Vipers” is the most Thrones-like yet with unexpected character deaths a plenty. In typical Telltale fashion, they don’t hold back any of the gruesome bits, so I hope you have tissues handy.
When we left off in episode four of Thrones, Mira had made a bit of a scene at Tommen’s coronation party, Asher successfully infiltrated Meereen for the Mother of Dragons, Rodrik interrupted an unexpected dinner party with Ramsay Bolton, and Gared found out Cotter is an even bigger liar than previously believed. The fifth episode follows on the heels of all these events, but moves at a much faster pace than any of the previous storylines. With only one episode remaining, such haste is to be expected, and I for one, am excited to see how this story plays out. And yet, there’s so much left to wrap up I’m not sure how Telltale will tie this knot in a satisfying unless they murder everyone or continue the story in a second season.
That being said, Gared’s story seems to have petered out when compared to the other three, so I am hoping he is the first to leave the series. Maybe it’s because he isn’t actually a
Stark Forrester or maybe it’s because he seems to be following in Jon Snow’s footsteps, but I can’t find his arc engaging whatsoever. He’s too far away from the other characters to make a difference in the overall story at hand (and that’s saying something considering Asher is in Meereen) and he’s clueless. By the end of his segment I kept hoping he’d accidentally catch a spear with his face. Thankfully, his part in the episode was also the shortest.
Luckily for fans, the other three character arcs are as solid as they’ve been since the first episode. And for the first time since the first episode I felt like my decisions mattered. The biggest qualm gamers seem to have with Telltale games is the illusion of choice, rather than actual decision-making in the world, and while I’ll agree that’s true in Game of Thrones, episode five pulled together all those lose strings of shunned parties and tied them into a noose. How you treated Beshka, Tyrion, Cersei, and Elaena in previous episodes all came to a head in the fifth episode, either granting you extra resources, troops, or just putting you in an even more difficult position in King’s Landing because I HAVE NO IDEA HOW TO PLAY MIRA. Worst case scenario: the way you play may lead to certain main character deaths. I have hopes that the final episode will come down to how you played throughout, whether or not you were able to acquire enough aid to save House Forrester.
This episode also had the most action of any Thrones episode yet, culminating in an epic pit fight for Asher’s life. I enjoyed the fight for the simple fact that it was more than the usual, “Mash three keys and then talk for an hour” routine. As much as I enjoy the story, it’s nice to have that change of pace every so often and it’s fitting that Asher, AKA the best character in the game, fill that role.
As the episode came to a close, with armies finally uniting and making an impact, I was reminded of a Ramsay Bolton quote from the TV series, “If you think this has a happy ending then you haven’t been paying attention.” That much is also true for the game and I’m starting to wonder if anyone in the world of Ice and Fire will ever get that happy ending.