Game of Thrones: Episode Five — A Nest of Vipers Review

Tears are Telltale's best weapon.

Game of Thrones' earlier seasons on HBO were excellent at dragging out emotional payoffs. The delicate dance of political intrigue and personal affections never slowed tempo, creating hour-long experiences that were tense, warm, and in many ways anxiety inducing. The drama of the series is what draws that emotional reaction from its audience, the way dozens of characters all trying to stay alive and protect their own interests clash with one another, frequently resulting in some being knocked out of the game altogether.

I've been very critical of Telltale's rendition of Game of Thrones. At times the story of the Forresters dips into that of the Starks, moving beyond imitation into something like a copy-paste job of themes and character arcs. I was concerned that my choices were arbitrary, that the identity of House Forrester's unknown traitor was not something I would mold with my decisions, that Mira's relationships with the nobles of King's Landing were destined to always stack against her. But Episode Five, A Nest of Vipers, unhinged my doubts and then smashed them, brutally, as I watched bad decision after bad decision at my own hand undo House Forrester's remaining hope.

Episode Five is an emotional rollercoaster, similar in crescendo and payoff to what I described of the HBO show earlier. I went into the episode expecting a cataclysm--something I've come to expect of the tail end of Telltale's series--and got what I wanted and sadly much more. It's a whirlwind of hurt. As the credits rolled the idea of drowning came to mind; The people of House Forrester are in over their heads, desperately clawing for the surface, as watery demons born from their own cunning and the unyielding meanness of others--factors all completely out of their hands--clutch their ankles and threaten to drown them.

Not everyone thinks you're cute.
Not everyone thinks you're cute.

Plot-wise, Game of Thrones has been an exercise in the futility of counting on others, as told through the stories of our protagonists. Rodrik tries to balance his individual family members' demands and well-being while dealing with a hidden traitor, the Whitehills mounting threats, and the woman he loves. Asher desperately tries to build an army to bring home while placating his best friend Beskha, who grows more and more uncomfortable as Asher drags her deeper into his mess. Mira is playing the game of thrones with the Lannister and Tyrell families in King's Landing, caught in a mess with the Queen and Queen Regent and completely abandoned by any friends she once had. And Gared is still ever marching beyond the wall, looking for the mysterious North Grove that could potentially save the Forrester family from ruin. In all these scenarios, the company you choose to keep won't necessarily be there for you when your luck runs out, and it's maddening to watch the allies you thought you had, some whom you've taken great risks for, either walk away or hinder your progress.

It's that idea of futility of counting on others that drives this episode and ultimately lingers after its conclusion. You may be conniving and selfish in a bid to save your family, but if it means your own skin you may choose to behave differently. You can sacrifice allies' well-being and dignity to get what you want, and at the end of the episode it's hard to really justify if any of that kicking, screaming, and backstabbing was worth endangering your life--or the life of someone else.

The plotline at Ironrath, in which the villainous Whitehill clan runs circles around the Forresters as now-head of house Rodrik struggles to keep his family afloat, has up to this point been the least interesting. The endless cycle of standing up and then getting beaten down was monotonous. But Episode Five, through several unexpected and well-orchestrated plot points, throws this thread into the foreground.

Sharing drinks with Tyrion Lannister always comes with a price.
Sharing drinks with Tyrion Lannister always comes with a price.

How you've been playing Rodrik up to this point--as a cautious pushover to the Whitehills' bullying or strong lord that spits in their faces at every turn--will also determine several scenario-altering choices throughout Episode Five. In vague terms so as to avoid spoilers: How this particular story concludes this episode genuinely feels like it will have a large impact on the finale.

Many other smaller choices made early in this episode will affect how well you are able to execute your plans later on. It genuinely feels like you have a heavy hand in how these situations pan out. Depending on how you speak to the Mother of Dragons, you could net some extra resources. How merciful you are in combat could lose you respect among the rabble of newly liberated Meereen. Whether or not you comfort someone who has hit rock bottom could affect how much he or she supports you later. The butterfly effect of what you do in the moment coming back to haunt you later is a real threat through Episode Five, providing for a tense, and riveting, two-hour ride.

One of these strings of choices is how Asher treats his best friend and confidant, lady sellsword Beskha. Asher has been given options to keep her secrets and protect her in the past, or reveal what he knows about her and use her knowledge of Meereen to further his goals of finding an army. His story is turning into this awful thing where you are either abusing your relationship with her and going against her wishes for privacy, or shielding her at all costs and potentially screwing up your mission. Remember, Asher's family exiled him before the events of the game because he fell in love with a Whitehill girl--are these people worth fighting for? Is Beskha, who has stood by him through everything, worth more?

Ain't no party like a pit fight party.
Ain't no party like a pit fight party.

There are actually quite a few scenes in Episode Five that are hard to watch. Think The Walking Dead, Season One; Telltale doesn't shy away from gore, nor are they precious about whom they kill off. This mentality married to Game of Thrones just guarantees some really harrowing stuff, but Episode Five manages to first build up your hopes for victory and success, only to quickly and mercilessly wreck everything you've been working towards. It's a sadistic episode.

But more importantly, many of these scenes make you think harder about those dialogue choices. There is no way to tell which choice will placate someone and which will anger them, which will save you and which will damn you. This push to think harder--and sometimes panic and choose quick choices in the limited time you have--does an excellent job of building tension, creating situations that don't just pluck at the nerves but sometimes genuinely make you feel sick.

I'm still not sold on the depictions of some characters from the Game of Thrones television show. Daenerys is still weirdly out of character, snarky, mean, and generally worlds away from the benevolent despot we've come to know her as. She's hard and cold, and the behavior breaks the immersion. Cersei and Tyrion both make appearances in this episode as well, and while they're not as out of sync as Daenerys, I can't help but feel for them as boiled-down hyperboles of their show characters. It's a bit distracting, but the way they are written is passable enough to get the point across to players. The standout addition continues to be Ramsay Bolton, who feels like he was meant to be creeping around Ironrath and calling the shots. He feels organic, his performance engaging, and it's an utter and terrible delight to have him on screen.

A Nest of Vipers ends on a heart-shattering note and the promise of an explosive finale. Thing are getting lively, and with quickened pacing to match the action, it's hard not to end this episode without your brain spinning in anticipation. With most prominent character arcs at their highest peaks, it's a perfect penultimate episode.

Alexa Ray Corriea on Google+

The Good

  • Smaller choices snowball into meaningful consequences
  • Major past decisions come to haunt you big time
  • Available options force you to really think about consequences
  • The Forresters' emotional arcs are tense and gut-wrenching

The Bad

  • HBO show characters don't mesh well and feel shoehorned in at times

More Platform Reviews

About the Author

Alexa Ray Corriea played through A Nest of Vipers three times to explore all possible outcomes. They are all terrible and sad but she did it for you anyway.
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Gruger123

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Edited By Gruger123

This is by far the worst telltale game I've played. The story is a page to page copy of the original work. The character are so unoriginal, makes them almost borderline cringy. I am shocked this got a 9 considering I actually respect the Gamespot reviews. I went into this expecting to explore the fascinating world of Game of Thrones, but unfortunately came out utterly disappointed with Telltale (especially after playing such a thrilling story in Borderlands). This is definitely the worst game I've played in a while, and I hope I never play a game as shitty as this ever again.

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Gelugon_baat

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How convenient that Asher gets injured in the leg at the finale. That way, Telltale can use the same animations for him as they do for Rodrik in Episode 6.

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balto85

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Edited By balto85

I'm really shocked that this got a 9 because I really felt this was the weakest episode in the series. Perhaps I'm just growing tired of the Telltale formula. It is more about the illusion of choice than actual choice. Sure, it occasionally gives you a recap of your choices to let you know that they were recorded, and occasionally there will be something interesting because of a choice you made. What I had always loved about Telltale Games was how your choices seemed to drive the narrative. Now, it's painfully obvious that the choices that you're making are really just incidental. It doesn't ruin the game. Telltale is excellent at telling good stories. It just removes a key element that I was always so impressed by.

And also, I think the game would have been better without the original cast members. Sure, it gives credibility to it being a GOT experience, but they are untouchable, and it's obvious. Nothing you do will have any impact on those characters because it just can't, because you'd be affecting the larger GOT world. At the opening of this episode, there could have been an incredibly tension-filled experience, if it were with a new character. But it was really rather boring because you know that no matter what happens, you won't be able to do anything of any consequence. Even with an opportunity, you know it's pointless. I think it has told an interesting story, and if they did a second season, I'm sure I'd follow along. But I just think the Telltale formula is wearing thin.

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Black_Hand_313

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Edited By Black_Hand_313

@balto85: +1. Saw comments bashing IGN's review for giving this episode a low score, and I'm left wondering if we played the same one. Sure the end was dramatic but I saw a lot of forced storytelling to get to that point. It really does feel like sometimes you make a choice, and the game swats your hand away and says "no, go THIS way":

Like when no matter what you say to Talia, she won't tell you who the traitor is in the Hall beforehand, because they want it to be dramatic. Then if you spare the traitor, learn his plans and Roderick acts shocked when the ambush happens. Worst one imo is when I maimed Gryff the last episode and he was lamenting his lost eye, then he shows up completely fine at the end. Those were deal-breakers for me.

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ChronicVII

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Edited By ChronicVII

Since the last generation, TV shows and movie based games seem to be getting better than they used to be in the past gens.

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dedodada

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Edited By dedodada

This was my least favorite episode yet (and the shortest, clocking in at around 1.5 hours). Most of the events in this episode were very, very predictable. No real shockers at all. On top of that, I wasn't really emotionally moved by any of it, and I didn't experience any "wrenching" of my gut at all. I have no clue why GameSpot would rate this a 9. It's at most a 5. Oh, and great job PSN at calling this "A PIT of Vipers" on your new release feed on the XMB.

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sampson3121

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The Last Of Us got an 8.5 from this site.

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adro191

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It's so bloody annoying, is that your last choice you can go to help the brother, yet regardless whether you do or don't, you still have to choose who dies! well then WHY THE F DID YOU GIVE ME OPTION TO PROTECT HIM!!

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Hurvl

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Edited By Hurvl

Damn, last episode got a 5 and this gets a 9!? Telltales GoT series seems very good all in all, so I'll probably get it at some stage.

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Black_Hand_313

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@Hurvl: Mixed opinions imo - some episodes are better than others, personally I'd switch Gamespot's review scores for the last two episodes

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GNS

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@Hurvl: You might like it if you're a Game of Thrones fan, if you're not... well... not so much,,,

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GNS

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OK, first off, I have to start with, that I do not watch The Game of Thrones television series, and I have started to play this game with a fresh start, so to speak. Certainly, I do know something about the series and its characters, albeit, the knowledge is very limited towards: Daneries (sorry for misspelling her name) is a Dorth-raki queen (or what they are called), there is a bastard imp called Tyrrion Lannister and that Sean Bean's character has died in episode 6 I think of Season 1 (a shocker!), also, that there are some snow-zombies-necromancers. And that's about it. So, when I say, that I have started to play this game with a fresh start, I mean it. I have no preferences towards the characters that the TellTale Games is portraying whatsoever.

And so, when I started to play this game, I noticed that I do not like Roddrick's family in the slightest. They are a bunch of whiners and cry babies. I mean, don't they have a small army to defend their castle with? I mean, these are medieval times for crying out loud, albeit, with magic in them, but still. Every Duchess, Duke, Sire and so on had in those times a small army to defend their home with. Where is that army? Why are they so defenceless?

Having said this, I hate Roddrick's family: I hate him, I hate his sister, his mother, his advisors - all of them are pretty useless. And their actions (the action tree, which TellTale gives to the players) regarding them are cringe worthy and downright laughable. I mean, take this episode for instance: Roddrick's sister knows who the traitor is, however, there is no option to force her to tell Roddrick without stalling who is the traitor in order for the player to organize a plan of action. And also, it is very obvious who is the traitor in the first place - it's the one guy you did not chose as your advisor. Why? Because he does not like the way you handle things. This is so obvious is cringe worthy.

The only redeeming Roddrick's family factor in this episode was the end. Where I chose to leave him to die, because he was such a nuisance and annoyance to me, that it gave me cancer. His persona was downright cringe-worthy. And I hope there will be no flash backs in the ending episode of Roddricks life, because I swear to God this is going to be so much stupidity that...

Having said that, I really liked the Asher fellow. Now, in all of this cringe-worthy feast of a game, he is the only one character that I like. He's a mercinarry fighting in a war somewhere in a desert. He's friends with a ex-slave, who is also a bad-ass warrior. And he does not take shit from no one. It was an ovious choice for me in the end who to leave behind at the gates. Also, why would that gay looking Ken's eye is in order in the end? I mean, I plucked it out in chapter 4. I mean, com'on consistencies!

So, in my opinion, the whole game series up to episode 5 is worth 5/10 (and the game is saved because of Asher).

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Squizzolo

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Edited By Squizzolo

@gns: where is the Forrester's army? well, maybe they were butchered at the red wedding at the start of the first episode? really, it's the first thing you see beginning the game, and it's obvious that only few defenders remained at Ironrath, while all the other soldiers were at war

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GNS

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Edited By GNS

@squizzolo: And that begs the question, who sends all of the solders to war and does not leave even a hundred at the caslte to defend it from possible attackers? What kind of a moron would think it would be a bright idea? And, I don't know any red wedding... I told you, I do not watch the series nor read books on GoT,

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adro191

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Edited By adro191

@gns: You are so right. also IT ANNOYED ME SO MUCH THAT KEN'S EYE WAS OK, I MEAN BEAT THE HELL OUT OF HIM!!!!

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JohnBeaver

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@gns: You didn't watch the show... so you don't have the Starks background in mind... you can't realise that Forresters are just Starks alike(good north people who gonna be slaught to the last) and why it's quite disappointing.

But you don't like this game as me, so I guess that's ok^^

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BroStepper

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Edited By BroStepper

Meh. Once you go Geralt, you never go back.

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voljin1987

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@brostepper: true.. and you always go full geralt. i mean why do anything else?

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Warriors30

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Fantastic episode! Really enjoyed it. If it weren't for the Mira parts, I'd give this episode a 10/10. I don't know why, but she's my least favorite (playable) character, and I always feel kinda lost when playing as her.

Her choices are the trickiest, I think. That's not a bad thing, I welcome the challenge, but her conversations with Tyrion and Cersei always feel super stilted, and I never know what the hell I'm supposed to be saying. Let's just say, her part of the story is way over my head! My favorite is Asher, I enjoy his storyline the most.

I really didn't expect Royland to be the traitor... I was so surprised that I tripped and my sword fell right into his chest.

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blueboxdoctor

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May check this out now that a decent amount of episodes are out. Just wondering, how long does each episode take to complete (about)? I've never really played a game like this before but I really liked Beyond: Two Souls, so I'm thinking a game based more on choice than action is something I can enjoy. Plus, it may help me get into Game of Thrones, tried getting into the show before but for some reason couldn't get into it (which is odd since I like fantasy), but I was thinking of giving it a second try.

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Squizzolo

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@blueboxdoctor: 2 or 2.5 hours, usually

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StJimmy

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@squizzolo: Except this one. This is their shortest yet, about 1.5 hours.

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blueboxdoctor

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@stjimmy: Do you think I'd be able to get into it without watching or reading Game of Thrones (IDK if it requires knowledge of any prior events in the shows or books or if it starts from the beginning).

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JohnBeaver

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Edited By JohnBeaver

@blueboxdoctor: No

I mean, you could get into, but this will not be a decent experience, cause:

-If you didn't read/watch the series 'til the end of season 4, many event of the game will severely spoil you

-You'll have no idea of the background of important characters of the series/book, and as it's mostly a fan service game(a bad one imao)

BUT you'll be able to understand the Forester family. I don't recommend you Got unless you watch at least the 4 first season of the series or read the 3 first books.

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blueboxdoctor

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@johnbeaver: Thanks for the info. I'll probably just try to start with the show again (already have a decent amount of books to get through), plus I keep seeing the poster of Daenerys with the dragon on her shoulder, which is awesome and it's been making me want to give the show another chance.

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Squizzolo

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Daenerys out of character? She's like how she should be. It's the show that fails to depict her like she's in the books, not the game.

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NbAlIvEr10000

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Why to Not Trust Game Reviews Anymore (Not like I ever did): GameSpot give this game a 9/10; Polygon gives this game a 7/10. GameSpot gives Arkham Knight a 7/10; Polygon gives Arkham Knight a 10/10????

May I please ask what the hell is the standard these days....what are these people seeing differently?!

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charlieholmes

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@NbAlIvEr10000: That's really what's so great about life. What floats one persons boat, doesn't the other. Same for any review/reviewer. Different likes and dislikes. Thank god. Imagine everyone walking around drooling cuz everybody's the same.

The simplest answer though came from tkondor. Reviews are subjective just like any other opinion. That's why I'm not always right and you're not always right. All good.

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JohnBeaver

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@charlieholmes: I would not have reply better :)

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NbAlIvEr10000

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@charlieholmes: Yeah that's really good and all with the whole lets sing koombaya moment, but one of the main reasons that people check out these reviews is to determine whether or not they should possible go ahead and purchase a game. When you see reviews like this that are literally seesawed you clearly know that these reviewers are being one-sided on a certain subject (GS is guilty of this more than others) when we should be getting bare-bones critiques about how a game's story is, its graphics, audio, gameplay, etc. But no, we get reviewers who always seem to have a grudge about something and choose not to like the game.

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tkondor

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@NbAlIvEr10000: because subjectivity....

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naryanrobinson

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I'm starting to think our standards are too low for this genre.

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wgerardi

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Edited By wgerardi

@naryanrobinson: Definitely true. Huge fan of the first season of Telltales Walking Dead and I liked Wolf Among Us a lot, but just the sight of these games is starting to physically disgust me. I've had more than enough.

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Beasthunt

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@naryanrobinson: there is no doubt about that. No matter what a company gives us, there will always be apologist in full force. See microtransactions, f2p, dlc, and broken games such as Batman Arkham Knight on pc.

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ShimmerMan

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Edited By ShimmerMan

I have never bought any of these shitty episodic games. haha **** em.

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ccgod

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@ShimmerMan: Then how do you know they're crap if you've never played them...

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naryanrobinson

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@ccgod: He said he hasn't “bought” them, but to be fair he probably hasn't played them either.

I know I haven't.

If they bundle them all together for $20 I might pick them up one day.

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greatryoman

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@naryanrobinson It's how I got the Walking Dead Season 1/Tales from the Borderlands/Wolf Among Us. (A Tales bundle for $20.)

And lets be fair. NO ONE should pay for individual episodes of these games...but the final form of these games do come out to be a fair number of hours long, enough to cover your money's worth anyway if it's just 20 dollars or so. The only thing I'd really say is, it's like buying say, an audiobook. Do you want to read a story, but you don't have time to flip through pages, so you want it in an easier to digest form? If no, Tales Games (which are aptly named, I may add) are probably not gonna be for you. If yes, then why not add it to your repertoire. You'll look more cultured just for having it there to begin with.

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crunchb3rry

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...a promise of an explosive finale...when Telltale's Episode 5 sales drop enough to release Episode 6. Telltale are pricks. Just release the whole game outright, don't peddle this episode crap. Especially in an era where every is sick to death of that "season pass" crap. Last Telltale game I bought was Walking Dead Season 2 on Xbox One on a disc. Walking Dead Season 1 pretty much set in stone what I think about Telltale's unnecessary business model. And being a huge GoT fan from pretty much when the first book didn't even have a paperback, that's a mighty-big statement to Telltale.

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shiel44

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Edited By shiel44

@crunchb3rry: doesn't bother me. The episodes are perfectly sized to fit in to the limited time I have to play them and the whole thing was cheaper than a regular game. I can see why the episodic format would bother some people, but if it bugs you that much then just wait and buy it when it's all released if you're still interested.

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Darkhol0w

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Edited By Darkhol0w

I think this is the best episode of the series..that ending part decision crushed my heart.

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p1p3dream

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It seems good, but that really short guy just seems like he is in too many shows lately. maybe he should take a break.

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adro191

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Edited By adro191

so freaking annoyed with this episode ending, the same way I did with first one, I replayed it twice to see if my choices affecting the ending but they didn't. let's see how much of an affect they'll do on last episode.

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Longini

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"a perfect penultimate episode"

I've seen other people sharing this quote thinking it refers to this episode and confused why it's a 9/10.

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Fallenstaph

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After playing episode 3 I told to myself "You have to be patient and wait until the final chapter and then keep playing" and I have been following that and just containing my urge to keep playing, Oh man just release the final episode so I can play and don't end up with cliffhangers, hate cliffhangers, and **** the boltons seriously.

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Warriors30

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@fallenstaph: The Boltons are awesome! Ramsay is such a nice bastard, and Fat Walda is the hottest woman in all of the Seven Kingdoms!

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Bread_or_Decide

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Such a shame the game can't be rated as a whole. Each piece gets a high score or a low score. It's confusing.

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Black_Hand_313

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@Bread_or_Decide: I can understand why you feel that way, but I like knowing whether quality is consistent or not. Especially since the season pass was on sale a few weeks ago, even though the series isn't finished. Some episodes are definitely better than others here

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Game of Thrones: A Telltale Games Series

First Released Nov 17, 2015
released
  • Android
  • iOS (iPhone/iPad)
  • Macintosh
  • PC
  • PlayStation 3
  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox 360
  • Xbox One

Game of Thrones - A Telltale Games Series is targeted to premiere digitally in 2014 for home consoles, PC/Mac, and mobile devices.

9
Superb

Average Rating

252 Rating(s)

7.4

Developed by:

Published by:

Genre(s):

Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
Mature