Monday, February 9, 2015

Familiar Places With New Faces Makes Episode 2 of Telltale's Game of Thrones Worth The Play

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Quick Note: Episode Two ups the action in increases the interactive portions of the game, but suffers from stilted pacing issues. That being said, the new characters are really starting to fit in with the old and Episode Two continuous to ramp the tension up perfectly. 

Months have passed and the second episode of Telltale Game's Game of Thrones series is finally out. Though shorter than the first episode, the brisk pace and great characterization really help make Episode Two feel more like a Game of Thrones episode while also keeping players more engaged with the world.
The Lost Lords picks up across the Narrow Sea in Essos where Asher Forrester has been living as a sell sword. Asher is a very different character than any of the previous whom have been introduced, with his sections including a lot of emphasis on sword play and action sequences. Perfect in short spurts, the sword play sequences help break up the dialog and really make the dangerous world of Game of Thrones feel, well, dangerous. Asher is a character that is quick to love, with his charm and suavness oozing off of him, but his story is very straightforward, at least in this episode. This isn't the so bad, but his sections in The Lost Lords feel very boring in comparison to the other characters who are put through the emotional meat grinder.

The new characters continue to get better, and Asher has some great combat sequences.

Moving back to The Ironwoods, a surprising character turns up in the most unlikely of circumstances as the Forrester family is getting ready for a funeral. The tension in the Ironwoods really brings the feeling of the show to the series. Politics and unlikable characters in power drive the story, and the Forresters are starting to become very similar to the Starks: a family of likable people who are thrown into some really terrible situations. The politics and character building in these sections make up entirely for the lack of any real action oriented gameplay and are possible my favorite parts of the episode.

We also get to see some more of King's Landing as Mira is trying to help her family from afar. Tyrion is in excellent form as he works to make Mira a stronger political player and Sarah is starting to show some depth as well. Of the whole family, Mira has the most control over what will happen next, but at the expense of constantly fighting with the large decisions that come with this control. She's the perfect foil of Sansa, whom became paralyzed by her fear in the show. This distinction makes Mira a very compelling character to play through. The addition of all the show characters helps keep the brand new story feel like it's part of the show's universe, which is a huge plus.

The final locale The Lost Lords introduces is The Wall, and while a fun distraction, the locale is completely lacking of anything interesting. Gared Tuttle enlists in The Night's Watch and meets some new characters, but at the moment they are all very vague and not compelling. Even Jon Snow, who makes a few appearances in these sections, feels very wooden and distant, as if he isn't there. 

Despite the poor characterization, The Wall had my absolute favorite section for action gameplay. Gared must prove himself to his new brothers by showing off his physical and combat abilities. These little action sequences include sword fighting, crossbow training and carrying a barrel of pitch. Where as the fighting sequences with Asher were fun, they were over very quickly and made you feel more frantic. Gared's section feels much more relaxed and you feel good proving to the other Black Brothers that Gared has skills and is worth something. If Telltale can continue to pepper in these types of sequences as well as the actual battles, the balance can really help keep things fresh in between large story driven sections.

Time doesn't heal all wounds.

Where as Iron from Ice slowly eased players into the new characters of House Forrester, The Lost Lords throws so much more at players all at once. This is both a blessing and a curse, as the episode is jam packed with lots of information and story, but the jumping around, specifically in the first half of the episode, can feel disjointed. It's a similar problem the show suffers from with some of it's own episodes, and I hope that Telltale can remedy this with much smoother pacing. 

Aside from this minor complaint, I am very happy with The Lost Lords. The game is finally starting to show just how compelling the new characters are. Having the show characters in the story helps create authenticity, but I am so happy with Telltale's decision to not make the show characters the forefront, but rather their own characters. Though shorter than the last episode, the newest episode adds so much to the story and has me very excited to see where these characters are going. 

8.0 out of 10

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