The penultimate episode in the series, Game of Thrones: A Nest of Vipers begins to wrap up the story in typical bloody Game of Thrones fashion. There is a lot more combat in this episode than the others, and at least one of those really hard choices that will shape the finale of the game and the fate of the characters within. Since we are getting near the end, expect quite a few secrets to be revealed or at least partially revealed.
As with the previous episodes in the series, this one follows the trials and tribulations of House Forrester and includes old favorite characters that have been with us from the beginning as well as new ones that we met in episodes two and into episode three and four, assuming they made it that far.
As with episode three, there are four main settings to this episode, including Ironrath where the Forrester’s live, King’s Landing, the frozen land north of the wall at Castle Black and across the Narrow Sea at Meereen.
Like everything else in this story, things don’t go as planned for brother Asher in Meereen. Even though he did everything that Daenerys Targaryen asked, she refuses to release her mercenary company to help the Forrester’s. She has a bit of a point, as she will soon need all the troops she can muster. At least Daenerys does not completely go back on her word however, as she does give Asher a huge chest full of gold, and advice that there are a lot of people in the newly-freed city looking for work. Okay, I guess we should be used to things not working out quite right by now.
It turns out that the only people available are pit fighters who suddenly have nothing to do since Daenerys closed the fighting pits. Asher’s companion knows where they hang out, but suggests that they will be lucky to leave their clubhouse alive, much less with a new army in tow. In fact, the fighters are found beating the hell out of each other, and their former masters, in a private fighting pit they opened up just to have a little fun. It’s clear that these guys are not exactly a disciplined army, but they are your only choice.
As expected, you need to impress them, and what better way to do that than by fighting their grand champion, someone who has never lost a battle. Asher is a good fighter, but it will be up to the player to weave and dodge and hit all the button prompts at the right time to get through in one piece. I was actually able to get through on the first attempt, but it’s by far the longest fight of the game so far, featuring multiple weapons and phases. And there are other fights in this episode too, so those of you who love action will enjoy A Nest of Vipers. Those who find combat difficult or stressful will have to really grit their teeth and probably do a lot of retries to pass through this one.
We spend very little time at Ironrath this time, but the choices that Rodrik makes, especially near the end of the episode, might determine the fate of his family. We actually start there, with the surprise visit from Ramsay Snow that turns into a flaying, as normal. It’s only a minor character getting cut this time, but as usual, you can’t do anything to stop it.
Here is where I have my biggest problem with the game. Unlike The Walking Dead games from Telltale where you only glimpse main characters, in Game of Thrones they are all over the place. And you can’t do anything to them that breaks canon. So when crazy Ramsay Snow holds a knife to his own throat and you are given the choice of slitting it or not, well, of course you are going to want to do that. He killed your brother, made life hell for your family and happens to be torturing one of your allies to death at the time right in front of you. But you can’t. Well, you can choose to try and kill him if you want, but guess what, you know it won’t be successful. He can’t die in the game and still be alive in the books and TV show. So why bother to try? I don’t mind seeing main characters from the show. It gives quite a kick to get to talk with them. But don’t put them in a position where we get a choice about their fate, because we all know that we really don’t.
Back up in the north, Gared Tuttle is way north of the wall. His story this time is probably one of the most interesting. He has the chance to integrate himself with some wildlings and perform some cool tasks like hunting rabbits with his bow. And in a shocking move, you get to meet the white walkers up close and personal. Some of the people you killed in the previous adventure come back as blue-eyed undead, hell bent on smashing your little idyllic campsite. You learn the hard way that normal weapons won’t kill white walkers, but can still defend yourself by parrying their blows. You can also use fire to kill them. The fight with them is actually easier than the arena combat that Asher will face, but in a way is so much more intense. Tuttle and his motley crew make their escape and head for the mysterious North Grove, a place I hope we find in the final episode.
Back at King’s Landing, Mira’s plots are coming to fruition, in both good and bad ways. If you played your cards right in the last episode, then you ruined the Whitehall’s chance of raising an army to crush your family. But that move has consequences. You may even be forced by the queen to lie to one of your former allies. This is a good way to use main characters in the game too, since whatever you do will very much affect your fate (at least I suspect it will) without pulling the story away from canon. I suspect that Mira’s fate will be decided one way or the other in the final episode as she ends up in a very dangerous position politically. I guess we can hope for the best.
It’s not that surprising that Game of Thrones: A Nest of Vipers turns bloody in the next to last episode. The extended combat sequences are a bit of a jolt, especially for players who shy away from that aspect of the series in favor of the story. But you can get through them with patience. And action-oriented players will certainly love the pacing.
Game of Thrones: A Nest of Vipers is a joy to play, especially with the TV series wrapped up for the season. It lets us connect with the world that we know and love, and become a small part of it in some ways. I can’t wait till the final episode. Game of Thrones: A Nest of Vipers earns 4 and 1/2 GiN Gems.