‘Game of Thrones – The Sword in the Darkness’ Review

Platforms PS4/XB1/PS3/360/PC/OS X/iOS/Android
Developer Telltale Games   Publisher Telltale Games
Genre Adventure   Platform Played On PC

While Telltale Games’ second episode of Game of Thrones lingers a bit when it comes to story development, that misstep is more or less corrected by not only the reveal of strong characters such as Asher and Rodrik, but also through Mira’s continuous “plays” between characters over at King’s Landing. Episode 3, The Sword in the Darkness, further improves upon this, while driving forward the overall plot and promising exciting developments on the horizon. Even so, I simply couldn’t oversee the fact that most of my decisions in this episode barely had any consequences on their respective outcomes.

The Sword in the Darkness starts in the same location as its prequel, namely in Essos. Asher is still on his way to Westeros, alongside his uncle Malcolm and mercenary companion Beskha. The Lost Legion is still pursuing our heroes, but that threat is almost immediately overshadowed by something way bigger. I won’t spoil it, but I think it’s pretty clear what it is, given all the promotional images and trailers. Once again, however, Asher’s chapter is the shortest of them, and talking about anything here means spoiling even those 20 minutes or so. I just wish he’d get to Westeros faster, but given the episode’s ending, it could go either way. Still, I was giggling like a little school girl when it came. It’s that awesome.

Next up is Gared, who has officially been named a ranger. Because of the immediate dangers lurking over the Wall, it’s important for all brothers of the Watch to trust one another, so Gared befriends Finn if he chose to defend Cotter, or Cotter, if he ratted him out when he stole Finn’s knife. It goes to show that all three understand the dangers they’re about to face, and the fact that they need one another, no matter the differences. Gared’s uncle pays him visit, and reveals that the North Grove is actually some kind of hidden citadel, north of the Wall. After a brief toiling with maps and keys, Gared finds the location of said fortress. Naturally, he’s to travel there. In a surprising turn of events, he even finds someone to help him look for it. I won’t spoil who that is, obviously, but it’s a neat twist. And that’s not even the only one, although I will refrain from saying more.

Back in King’s Landing, Mira continues to bond with Margaery’s other handmaiden, Sera. Besides that, there’s always the constant passive-aggressive teasing between Cersei and Margaery, which is a pleasure to watch. What’s important here is the fact that Mira’s desperate actions to save her family – a.k.a. making deals with Tyrion – are apparently poorly reflecting on Margaery’s reputation. I really don’t enjoy tarnishing Margaery’s look or ignoring her orders right in front of her (at least not in the “canonical” play-through), but helping Mira’s family is way more important. That’s why Telltale’s Game of Thrones is so good. Not one decision is black and white.

At least two persons are warning Mira of playing a dangerous game, and while it’s not THAT game found in the title, tensions are running high. Oh, and let’s not forget that the Purple Wedding takes place in this episode. We weren’t present at the center of the Red Wedding, and, unfortunately, the same thing happens. Nevertheless, it happens during this episode, and because of it, Mira finds herself in even more trouble, due to the fact that she has made deals with the wrong person. Fans will know what I’m talking about, although – again – I’m going to shut up to not spoil it for newcomers.

Finally, just like in previous episodes, Ironrath is still the most dangerous place to be (at least for a Forrester). Rodrik is still crippled, and to make things worse, the infamous Griff Whitehill (lord Whitehill’s fourth son mentioned at the end of the first episode) has arrived. First, twenty men started residing behind the walls of Ironrath, and now, Griff decides to overtake the Great Hall. Besides Ramsey and maybe lord Whitehill, Griff now seems to be the main antagonist of the game. If there is a repeating pattern here, however, then that is the dire situation of the entire House. Seriously, how bleaker can it possibly get? A few revelations start flying around toward the end, one of which being a second connection between Ironrath and King’s Landing (besides Mira). As expected, given the overall bleak universe, it’s a connection meant to further destroy the Forresters.

As with any other Telltale game, I usually do two play-throughs: one in which I show restraint, I’m merciful, and act as I would do in real life, and another in which I do exactly the opposite. Because of Game of Thrones‘ harsh universe, you can’t imagine how much I wanted to rage against Ironrath’s oppressors or even torture someone at the Wall (believe me, you will, too, once it comes down to it). Still, a surprising ally asks Rodrik to be patient and look at the bigger picture, so I did just that. Thankfully, the second play-through gets to be the “non-canonical” one, so I got my share of blood-thirst there. That said, I’m disappointed to see that most of my choices don’t influence the outcome of any sub-plot. Sure, the dialog changes and someone else “will remember that,” but even last episode’s penultimate major choice didn’t influence Mira’s predicament that much (i.e. the guard still ends up dead).

Even so, I really hope the remaining episodes deliver some measure of justice to Forresters’ enemies, even though some will still get away, due to Telltale following George R.R. Martin’s books. I’m looking at you, Ramsay. Thinking about it, wouldn’t it be really interesting for the developer to break away from said canon? Imagine the possibilities; not only for the rest of the season, but for a whole new one.

The Sword in the Darkness is yet another entertaining episode through Telltale’s Game of Thrones‘ first season. Asher has reached a crucial point in his journey – one, which, hopefully, gets him home as fast as possible – Gared is ready to start fulfilling his lord’s dying wish by venturing north of the Wall, Mira seems to be loosing the favor of Margaery while learning just a little bit more about her “benefactors,” while Rodrik… well, he keeps getting beaten. I just wish my decisions would weight a little more on these small sub-plots in-between major scenes.

The Good

  • Asher’s Ending
  • Gared Confronting a Certain Person While Discovering New Things About Another
  • Mira Loosing Margaery’s favor
  • Rodrik’s Revelation Towards the End

The Bad

  • How Bleaker Can it Possibly Get for Ironrath?
  • Again, Consequences Result in the Same Outcomes

The Score 8.5