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Game of Thrones Episode Three: The Sword in the Darkness
Game of Thrones Episode Three: The Sword in the Darkness

Apple iOS | PC | PlayStation 4 | Xbox One
Genre: Adventure
Developer: Telltale Games Official Site:
Publisher: Telltale, Inc. Classification: MA15+
Release Date:
March 2015
Game of Thrones Episode 3: The Sword in the Darkness Review
Review By @ 12:09pm 26/03/15
Submission is an on-going theme in Game of Thrones: the books, the TV show, and now the Telltale game. The major question of Game of Thrones’ third (and so far best) episode is how far each character is willing to prostrate themselves, what sacrifices are worth making in the short term to preserve something in the long term, and whether it’s worth losing face if it means possibly keeping your head. The series seems to be building towards a revenge-filled finale, but this episode asks you to consider biding your time… as hard as that might be.

Game of Thrones is doing a better job than any previous Telltale releases of playing the long game, letting your decisions accumulate and simmer. Choices I made in this episode reflected where my characters had come from, what they had been through, and where I wanted them to go next. Over the course of two hours I was asked to choose between the safety of different companions, whether to strike out and seek new alliances or strengthen my old ones, and had to choose my fights carefully.

It’s in this episode, which brings us to the midway point of a longer-than-usual season, that what you’re working towards really starts to coalesce. The game is at its most effective when it leaves the show behind: John Snow, Tyrion, Cersei and Margaery are all starting to feel like distractions away from the Forrester clan, whose tale is smaller than we’re used to from Game of Thrones, but no less important. Their struggle fits right into this world, and because they exist within a property famous for slaughtering its most popular characters the danger driving the action feels real.

The tensions being explored play out equally well in action sequences and regular conversations. There’s a temptation to really let off steam whenever the game gives you the chance to do something brutal, if the consequences don’t seem too severe – after showing humility with one character, you might let another lose control. The Sword in the Darkness doesn’t let up at all; the whole episode, and every choice and action, feels significant. You can’t please everyone, but the writing gives you reason to try.

As usual this episode is extremely light on puzzles or exploration. It feels like the real puzzle of this season is mapping the scenarios and alliances that will result in the happiest endings for these poor characters, which is arguably a more compelling puzzle to solve than a lot of adventure games offer up.

I really like where the Game of Thrones game is going. Long-term stakes have been established, and the weight of the decisions I’ve made is already bearing down upon me. That being said, it would be easy for the fourth episode to outstay its welcome a bit: midway through, the bleakness of the whole thing is starting to cause mild fatigue that could spill over into genuine exhaustion. But the pacing has been strong so far, and if the second half of the season starts to set in motion a potential end to the conflict – or at least make the success of the Forrester clan look like a realistic possible outcome – this could end up being one of Telltale’s very best seasons.

James “Jickle” O’Connor is a freelance games critic, journalist and occasional editor, based in South Australia. His favourite game of all time is The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, and he is absurdly, comically rubbish at most fighting games (except for Killer Instinct on the SNES, which was, incidentally, the first game he ever owned). He has huge soft spots for point and click adventure games, third-person shooters, and Deus Ex.

Recent articles by James:Find and follow him on Twitter - @jickle.
What we liked
  • The decisions go after something unique, asking you to sacrifice your dignity
  • Feels like strong arcs have been built over all three episodes
  • Genuinely feels tense and weighty
  • Strong writing
What we didn't like
  • Season runs the risk of spinning its wheels a bit
  • Connections to the show are slightly awkward
We gave it:
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