Game of Thrones: Episode 5 – A Nest of Vipers PC Review
The closer that Telltale Games’ episodic spin-off of Game of Thrones reaches its conclusion, the more frustrating it becomes. After four episodes, it was clearly obvious that the promise that players would make meaningful choices to shape the narrative of their own story had ultimately amounted to little, and the latest episode only cements this bitter fact; once more, the actions and fates of characters remains unavoidable, regardless of what the story may lead you to believe, and whatever subtle changes occur from the limited player input are rendered moot within minutes of each “difficult” choice that must be made.
Once again, the original story and cast created for this spinoff of George R. R. Martin’s decades-long epic is hindered by both the game’s limited interactivity and the series’ ironclad legacy. This is why Episode 5 opens up with the original videogame characters having key dialogs with two of the famous TV/novel characters, one after the other, who act suspiciously out of character to antagonize the player-controlled leads, regardless of what their prior decisions were. Whether orders were followed to a T or defiant actions bring the threat of execution, the story continues toward a fixed path. George Martin would be proud with the almost troll-like ways the game refuses to give you what you want.
But we continue to take the abuse, as the game continues to deliver a well-written and well-acted story that fans will want to stick with, even if the conclusion will most likely end on an unsatisfying note (plans for as a second season are already underway). By the end of Episode 5, the single most impactful decision reveals itself, leading to all sorts of speculation on how the final episode will play out. It’s just too bad that with that anticipation comes dread, as Game of Thrones now runs the biggest risk of showing just how meaningless the players’ choices will matter, depending on how they handle the key decision made by the end of this episode.
Either way, it’s really unfortunate how formulaic these episodes continue to play out; you interact with a famous character who you can never win over, you engage in a bloody QTE action sequence, you get jerked around some more by other characters, and you top things off with a dramatic cliffhanger that makes you want to take the lumps all over again. With one more episode to go, it remains to be seen if it was all worth it, but if Telltale fails to stick the landing and also fail to innovate for their next games, then they may have to deal with being on the receiving end from angry fans crying out for freedom (to make more meaningful choices).