Welcome to the best second episode Telltale have ever done
Historically speaking, the second episode is Telltale’s Achilles Heel. From Sam & Max Save The World to The Wolf Among Us Telltale have always started strong with an impressive and intriguing first episode then nearly let the entire season down with the second, which despite being generally good is often shorter and less compelling than the first. Therefore I’m happy to say that Game of Thrones: Episode 2 - The Lost Lords is Telltale’s best follow-up episode since Bone: The Great Cow Race. It’s not perfect and the first episode is still better, but it’s not letting the season down. No real spoilers from this point on.
Again, trying not to spoil anything, The Lost Lords mostly deals with the fallout from the really, truly shocking events of Iron From Ice. Even if you know that the season started with the infamous Red Wedding and that all the main characters in the Forrester family are Stark supporters it won’t prepare you for how badly things go. Then again if you’re a fan of the show you were probably expecting things like [spoiler!] to happen. Anyway, yes, Episode 2 is all fallout, with things continuing to spiral downhill for the Forresters while they desperately try to hold things together. I like the way the feud between the Forresters and the Lannister-aligned Whitehills has been set up which makes for some great drama, and characters from the series continue to be utilised well. It’s not a spoiler to say that Jon Snow makes a major appearance (he’s on the adverts for the episode) played as on the show by the cool Kit Harington, and there’s some really great moments between him and our introductory character Gared Tuttle.
Asher and Beshka get into more trouble. Oh what rogues they are!
Once again we get to play as several members of the Forrester clan across the entire Game of Thrones world. The main big new character is Asher Forrester, the exiled son now living as a sellsword across the sea in Yunkai, which in the current timeline has just fallen to the forces of Daenerys Targaryen. He’s a cheeky wretch in a good partnership with female mercenary Beshka before he’s summoned home (well, I presume this happens whether Ethan send his uncle to fetch him or not, as I did in my playthrough) and things go from bad to worse for him. Asher and Beshka are great, so it’s disappointing that they’re only really in the beginning of the episode. I presume they’ll appear more in later episodes. Oh, and there’s another new playable character too, but as even the main menu keeps him a mystery I’ll do the same.
The story is getting very interesting now, and while it’s running parallel to and occasionally smacks right into the stories from the books/show Telltale feel like they’re confidently crafting their own tale. It’s a gripping one, but the downside is that The Lost Lords can feel like they’re pushing forward too quickly. There’s little room for pure character development or scenes that merely make us care about these people more, or even any truly great lines outside of “you f**k potatoes?”. The Walking Dead made time for quieter moments - who can forget playing hide and seek with Duck or teaching Clementine to fire a gun? The closest The Lost Lords gets to such moments is Gared petting a horse.
I'm sure if I just filled this review with pictures of Jon Snow half our readers wouldn't mind
One thing I have to say about Game of Thrones is that the decisions and choices are a lot more nebulous than in other Telltale games, and while that’s a pain in the arse for a reviewer trying to determine whether choices are mattering or not it’s a pretty cool thing overall. I really have no idea what choices I’ve made from either episode are going to come back to help or haunt me. One seemingly inconsequential dialogue option at the end of Episode 1 played a crucial part in the [spoiler!] that made the ending so awesome. I have no idea whether drinking that wine, which was highlighted as a crucial decision so hard you actually have to make the choice twice, would make any difference. Then again petting that horse might have far-reaching implications. I JUST DON’T KNOW, and that’s great. I’d rather be in the dark than see that I was doing everything or nothing. That said, there is one major decision that Mira Forrester makes towards the end about going to meet someone without any input from the player, and of course it goes wrong because it was a stupid decision. I’m both cross and sad that Telltale didn’t trust us enough to make it.
While I really enjoyed the episode I do have a few more complaints, and they’re much the same or even a little worse as the moans I had about Episode 1. The first and most obvious is the graphic style. I’m sorry Telltale, but Game of Thrones is the title that should finally put the nail in the coffin of the Telltale Tool engine. While it allows Telltale to make episodic titles quickly and cheaply the animation is getting more and more janky and the faux-watercolour style they’ve gone for here simply doesn’t work. Walking Dead, Wolf Among Us and Tales From The Borderlands all worked because they could use cel-shading and get away with it because it suited the franchises, but cartoony watercolours and models that look scarcely better than the five-year-old Back To The Future game do not suit Game of Thrones.
And if I filled the review with pictures of Margaery Tyrell the other half of our readers wouldn't mind either
Finally on the “still whining about things not fixed from the last review” front, save points are still atrocious. I once quit the game after a major scene transition and upon reloading it put me a good 40 minutes back at the beginning of the previous scene, which is the longest (and most tedious to replay) collection of minigames and QTEs in the episode. And once again Telltale have removed all trace of a ‘skip’ button. Maybe I shouldn’t have tried to take my time with the game or had some dinner instead of playing it? Even assuming most players will play the whole 2-3 hour episode in one sitting, how about when it crashed suddenly for no reason then? And while I’m moaning and asking rhetorical questions, why are there separate QTE prompts for “Press A” AND “Press Left” when they’re both the same thing?
GAME OF THRONES: EPISODE 2 – THE LOST LORDS VERDICT
Despite my complaints, The Lost Lords is a great episode of Telltale’s epic Game of Thrones story, and while slightly less shocking than the first episode it’s certainly the best second episode in a season they’ve ever done. The plot is getting more intriguing by the second and the feud between the Forresters and the Whitehills makes for good drama. Furthermore on the game front the choice/consequence gameplay is much more unpredictable in Game of Thrones than in Telltale’s other series, so when the consequences come they’re that much more surprising. That all said, the watercolour graphics style doesn’t really fit, the save system is awful, and I kind of wish Telltale were in less of a hurry to tell the plot so they could put in some more character-building moments. A fine episode then, but Telltale need to knock it out of the park with the next one.
TOP GAME MOMENT
Gared Tuttle talking and bonding with Jon Snow.
A lot harder to identify important decisions or what the consequences will be.
The story continues to get more interesting and some of the new characters introduced are great.
Same as in the first episode: the painted graphics style is misjudged and the save system is broken.
While the plot's great Telltale forget to allow their characters to breathe or allow us to get to know them better.