Game of Thrones: Episode Six - The Ice Dragon (PlayStation 4) Review

By Drew Hurley 20.11.2015

Review for Game of Thrones: Episode Six - The Ice Dragon on PlayStation 4

Telltale's Game of Thrones story has, thus far, been a great addition to George R.R. Martin's world, using existing characters and locations from the show and expanding on a family of characters that is left unexplored in both book and show. The final product has become a believable side story that fits in with the existing world and lore. The Forresters have been on an epic, but punishing, journey and there seems to be little hope of a happy ending - if there can ever be such a thing in Westeros. Now, at the finale of the season, there are still many story threads left to be resolved; whether they can be all wrapped up in a single episode, however, remains to be seen. As with all episodic reviews here at Cubed3, there will be spoilers for previous episodes. Reader beware.

Episode Five felt underwhelming, with the story progression seemingly taking two steps forward, then two steps back. While certain plot points and threads were expanded and built upon, much of the development seemed to be rolled back by the episode's end, making it feel like some of the choices and decisions were meaningless: Rodrik's alliance and forces gone, Asher's uncle abandoning him to serve Daenerys and his promised army ending up being a handful of pit fighters, Gared seemingly aimlessly wandering north of the Wall with no end in sight, and the less said about Mira's pointless failures in her attempts to play the Game of Thrones the better.

The episode was saved, however, with a final act, which finally brought Asher home and began the first steps of the promised war between the Whitehills and Forresters. This finale also gave a branching option, on which Lord would survive their short reunion: to have the wayward son Asher lead the house with strength and a foreign army, or to have the wiser and trusted Rodrik return home with the army Asher brought him. This was a fantastic gut punch to deliver; both Rodrik and Asher are likeable characters that have had significant playtime to get attached to. The choice also made at least two playthroughs of this final episode a necessity to experience the ending from the point of view of both Rodrik and Asher.

Screenshot for Game of Thrones: Episode Six - The Ice Dragon on PlayStation 4

Entering this final episode, each of the surviving Forresters have a lot left to accomplish: whether Asher or Rodrik, the remaining Lord needs to marshal his troops ready for the Whitehills assault, Gared has to find the North Grove, and Mira needs to find some way of doing something… anything, really… It's hard to see anything Mira has accomplished or brought to the table. It's such a shame, but the parallels to the show version of Sansa are quite apropos; both have had moments where they seemed to grow, only to then, again, be beaten down.

As with all the Telltale titles, there are plenty of morally grey choices to be made in the finale; in fact, the episode excels in forcing difficult decisions, especially since the outcome of the choices is hard to predict, and the resulting actions will, in many cases, result in a quick reset to choose something else. Something as innocuous as, "It's just a chair" can turn into "It's just a chair, sit in it if it makes you feel important," with a snide chuckle. There are some severe consequences to bad decisions, with genuinely shocking moments that could have major repercussions to a second season. It's again a place where it's worth numerous playthroughs and save files just to see how Telltale can adapt the second season.

Screenshot for Game of Thrones: Episode Six - The Ice Dragon on PlayStation 4

Sadly, for every well done branching choice, there are equally some outcomes that happen regardless of the choices made. This is a familiar theme with Telltale games, where certain moments need to happen as cornerstone points to the overall story; for example, whichever member of the house that was not made Sentinel being revealed to be the traitor in the previous episode. There is an entire sequence in this final episode that is, sadly, stuck in this way. Regardless of previous choices or actions, the entire sequence, bar one brief stabby moment, plays out the exact same way. It can be seen as an interesting commentary on the inevitability of repercussions and events, but having 99% of the sequence play out the exact same way is counterproductive to encouraging replays when it means sitting through identical 10 to 15 minute sequences. It's fine that this final battle has to happen, but at least make the QTEs and dialogue different.

Although the important story points remain the same at the end of the story, there are many variations to them, with major deaths and alliances all based on player choice. Thanks to this focus on choice, the branching paths through the game and the numerous variations on endings for each of the playable characters, Game of Thrones strongly encourages starting a new playthrough from scratch to experience it all again, making choices differently based on the knowledge of what's to come. Telltale titles always benefit from this, being able to "binge play" through all of the episodes after completion, seeing the minute details originally missed, before knowing characters' motivations and true intent.

Screenshot for Game of Thrones: Episode Six - The Ice Dragon on PlayStation 4

The epilogue to the series has been well done, utilising the iconic Telltale method of listing the playthrough's choices, but in a new way. It sees the show cast returning to deliver a summary, retelling of the unique journey each character they interacted with had; Jon talks of Gared, Daenerys of Asher, Margaery of Mira, and Ramsay of both Ethan and Rodrik. It's a fantastic method of retelling the choices made and summarising the story, along with serving as a perfect lead into the now-inevitable second season.

Hopefully, the second season will be better for the Forrester family… From the outset, Game of Thrones has been a dark series. George R.R. Martin's apparent love of killing well-liked characters, and the notion that no-one is safe, has enthralled and captivated. Moments like the Red Wedding, a certain crispy Dornish prince and, of course, poor Ned Stark serves as a grim reminder of mortality and the risks in the world. It's fitting, then, that the Telltale title has been so punishing to the protagonists, but it's a little too much at this final step. All of the Forrester characters have gone through hell and it's hard to pinpoint many wins or hope for them over the course of the story. A Song of Ice and Fire may have plenty of dark moments, but it's also filled with moments of joy and instances that make the audience cheer; thus far, Telltale has yet to quite capture these moments.

Screenshot for Game of Thrones: Episode Six - The Ice Dragon on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

The Ice Dragon feels like a great setup for a sequel, but lacking as a finale. Although it manages to wrap up some storylines, there's not enough closure and certainly not enough cathartic moments. There's plenty of building for the sequel, however, and with the numerous possible endings, it will be interesting to see how Telltale can incorporate them all into a second season. Although there have been flaws throughout, it's evident that Game of Thrones and Telltale are a good fit. Hopefully, the second season won't be as far away as the sixth book...

Developer

Telltale

Publisher

Telltale

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

There are no replies to this review yet. Why not be the first?

Comment on this article

You can comment as a guest or join the Cubed3 community below: Sign Up for Free Account Login

Preview PostPreview Post Your Name:
Validate your comment
  Enter the letters in the image to validate your comment.
Submit Post

Subscribe to this topic Subscribe to this topic

If you are a registered member and logged in, you can also subscribe to topics by email.
Sign up today for blogs, games collections, reader reviews and much more
Site Feed
Who's Online?
Nayu

There are 1 members online at the moment.