We are now two-thirds of the way through Telltale's Game of Thrones. House Forrester has spent the past three episodes being knocked around and bullied by House Bolton, House Whitehill, and a plethora of other antagonists. But while we found this series to be a bit of a slow burn at first, it has picked up pace of late, so can Episode 4 - Sons of Winter deliver another quality slice of episodic action?
The most notable thing about this episode is the improvement to some of the members of House Forrester. Chiefly, this is exemplified by Mira, whose narrative – based in the political haven of King's Landing – started out as something of a clone of Sansa Stark's storyline from both the books and show. Luckily, subsequent episodes have seen her forging her own path, and in this instalment, she arguably cements her place as the most interesting character of the chapter; she's quite the two-faced juggernaut of deceit and power. This all plays into one of the stronger vibes from this outing as well: tension.
Indeed, this episode spends much of its two-hour runtime building nerve-rending tension around many different scenes. A sequence particularly late on does an excellent job of evoking similar feelings to the now infamous Red Wedding, with a variety of possible results depending on how you want to play it. As a matter of fact, the entire second half of the instalment is one long, stressful sequence. The strain of some of the decisions carries over from character to character as the latter half has quite a lot of swapping back and forth, with very little opportunity for a release of tension. And the way that the ending is handled suggests something horrific – even more so than what's come before.
The writing and combat sequences are solid, too, and from a technical standpoint, this may well be the smoothest episode in the series so far. Moreover, the decisions made easily feel like the biggest ones thus far. Some of them have certainly been alluded to in past episodes, while others are part of the long chain of events that all seem to be pointing to doom and gloom for poor House Forrester. If, in true Game of Thrones tradition, this turns out to be true, it will be a real shame, as pretty much every member of the family is now likeable and interesting in their own distinctive way.
The biggest downside this time, then, is the art. The canvas, oil painting style is still really unique and looks gorgeous most of the time, but there were several instances throughout the episode where we found ourselves thinking that some of the backdrops looked off. It's not a big enough issue to meaningfully detract from the experience – just an oddity, really.
Game of Thrones: Episode 4 - Sons of Winter doesn't hit quite the same highs as its immediate predecessor – but it's likely to prove the most impactful instalment to date. The decisions made this time around reek of future importance, and the impending doom for House Forrester seems closer than ever before – even if the overall story's pace has, once again, slowed just a tad.