For an episodic title that consists of 6 entries, it makes sense that things would start to get a little more exciting half-way through. While episodes 1 and 2 were enjoyable in their own right, they never really achieved much more than setting the scene – even while seemingly major characters were being killed off during proceedings. Here, in episode 3, it becomes clear that much of what transpired in the previous episodes was required in order to set up an elaborate and complex conundrum, from which I expect it will take a further 3 episodes for players to try to escape.
The episode is titled “The Sword in the Darkness” – a reference to the oath made by the Night’s Watch, so it’s no surprise that much of this episode is focused on Gared. Given the title, it’s no surprise that he is made a full member of the Night’s Watch, but more than this, he is given the opportunity to reunite with a family member (if only briefly), as well as exact some well deserved revenge, but the story here also sets up what is clearly going to be quite the adventure in future episodes.
Other characters – particularly Mira and Rodrik – continue struggling along their path, which proves detrimental, for the most part. Mira’s story gains political tension, whereas the threat of violence at Ironwrath increases exponentially. What is most impressive, though, about these particular storylines, is that the result of decisions made in prior episodes is made painfully clear – although it’s not clear if alternative options would have been any less painful to endure. That said, out of all of the Telltale games to date, this is the first time where I felt that my choices had a tangible impact on the world, and my enjoyment of the game increased dramatically as a result. Of course, there are a number of other choices I’ve made that are yet to have any impact (if they ever will), but the story here is so complex that it’s great to see how certain gameplay elements have been tied in to the story.
Elsewhere, Asher Forrester’s story also continues, and to be honest, this continues to be the weakest element of the story to me. This may prove surprising to some, considering some of the developments in this particular episode, but what have proven to be an exciting and harrowing discovery turns out to be very tired and played out – although the episode does close out with the promise of another major character from the TV series as a minor cliffhanger.
Overall, this was a solid episode, and I find myself looking forward to the next. I do hope that Ashers upcoming encounter results in his storyline developing somewhat, as that would put all four stories on par in terms of excitement or tension (although it must be said that Rodrik’s storyline is getting somewhat frustrating due to the fact that he is so relentlessly trapped in his circumstances). If this momentum can be maintained, we’re in for a hell of a ride.