It's safe to say that Game of Thrones has earned its reputation for being a brutal, violent, and gory addition to popular culture. For better or worse, Telltale Games has continued that grand tradition through six episodes – its longest season to date – to varying degrees of success. Considering the level of quality of the source material, we've always found ourselves hoping for more from this episodic outing – but it's never really ventured beyond the realm of "good". And after a fairly weak penultimate episode, the final instalment returns proceedings to the above average status quo.
Through the previous five episodes of the season, we've witnessed a lot of horrible things happen to House Forrester. While on occasion it looked like they may be able to succeed, the developer has always been quick to throw another variable into the mix, making us realise just how mistaken we've actually been. This episode is no different in that respect, as there are multiple instances of both hope and hopelessness in the finale, and these feelings largely depend upon the characters that you'll be assuming control of. Gared, for instance, will slot you into the "hopeful" camp, while Mira and just about everyone else in the slowly dwindling cast rest in the "hopeless" category.
There are occasional bright spots among these dark sequences, but on the whole this is a fittingly brutal and violent finale. Make no mistake, lots of people will die. Whether or not they are characters that you care about will vary, of course, and it's true that a number of the casualties are restricted to bit part players in the plot. To be fair, the deaths are used to propel the story forward, but there are so many of them that it's easy to become numb to them by the end.
Personally, the constant deaths caused us to realise just how little we cared about the cast, which is a surprise for a Telltale title. If there was this much death in Tales from the Borderlands, for example, it would be soul crushing – just as it was in The Walking Dead. Here, however, it fails to resonate. It's not that the deaths don't serve a purpose narratively, it's just that we struggled to feel an emotional response to them.
The issue may come down to the length of this episodic adventure. Telltale has pretty much perfected the five chapter arc to its stories, but the six instalments here mean that parts of the season feel plodding and padded. A snappier episode five may have helped the closing moments of this series to be a little more impactful, but instead we're left with a lot of filler.
Problems aside, this definitely does feel like a season finale – but more in the television sense. It wraps up smaller plot lines, but the big stuff is left unresolved. If that's not what you're looking for then you may walk away from this feeling unsatisfied, but with Telltale Games confirming that a second series is in the works, at least you know that there's further closure on the horizon.
And that's perhaps the most positive thing we can say about this episode as a whole – it sets up some interesting scenarios. But this is largely indicative of the season in its entirety, as it's always felt like it's been teetering on the brink of getting going. It's a fine episode, then – decent, solid – but it's been a bit of a slow series on the whole. And now we wait to see if Game of Thrones: Season 2 can properly get this story going.
Game of Thrones: Episode 6 – The Ice Dragon offers an alright ending to a slightly disappointing spin-off overall. We struggled to care about a lot of the deaths here, but the story moves along reasonably well and it sets up what we hope will prove a superior second season. It can't light a candle to some of Telltale's finer work, but it's never been outwardly bad. If that's the best that can be said about a six episode series, though, it's not a resounding endorsement, is it?