Suburban Timewaster

I play video games and review them.

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Game of Thrones Episode 4: Sons of Winter (Steam Store)

Westeros falls on dark times and the Forrester family is no exception.  Gryff rules Ironrath and Rodrick must fight for his right as Lord.  Asher goes on a mission for Daenarys in exchange for some of her sellswords.  Mira discovers that the Whitehills have a spy in Kings Landing while trying to get back in Margeary’s good graces.  Gared faces execution at The Wall for murdering a fellow brother.

I’m going to talk about the story that really upset me first and that is Gared’s adventure.  As I said earlier, he faces execution at The Wall.  The real kicker is I went out of my way to not murder Britt and remain true to my vows.  I even recited the oath aloud as I clicked on each sentence.  I am not lying.

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Doesn’t matter if Finn vouches for you, Frostfinger still doesn’t believe it and has you sentenced for execution.  Therefore, according to The Wall, you can’t defend yourself against other people who try to kill you.  Better to let them murder you or the Watch will do it themselves.  When I had to pick a dialogue option for Gared about the Watch, you can bet that I had him say they betrayed him.  Jon Snow gets one little scene before he leaves for Craster’s Keep.

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If you tell him it’s an accident, he’ll believe you but he’s powerless to stop Frostfinger.  Those of you who watch the show might see the irony in this.  Those of you who haven’t might want to skip this next part to avoid spoilers.  The Night’s Watch betrays Jon himself when he ascends to Lord Commander.  His aim is to unite the Watch and the Free Folk against the true enemy, the White Walkers.  However, many of the more old-fashioned members don’t like this new turn and trick him outside, stabbing him one by one.  Mysandra resurrects Jon, but it destroys his hero worship of the Night’s Watch.  If Telltale makes a second season, it would be interesting for Gared and Jon to meet and bond over their shared betrayal.  Gared breaks out and continues his search for the North Grove.

In order to give a proper review, I need to discuss what happens at Ironrath.  This is when Gryff’s rule becomes intolerable as he uses brute force to assure his position.  It’s very similar to how a bully will use fear to rule over those weaker than them.  Therefore, Gryff is little more than a thinly veiled Joffrey, which is the closest we’ll get to seeing him in the game.  To ensure their position, the Whitehills demand that Eleana, betrothed to Rodrick, marry Gryff.  Again, we have an obvious love triangle between a hero and a villain with Eleana having no affection for the villain whatsoever.  However, I will applaud her for taking matters into her own hands.  Needless to say, this gives Rodrick more allies in his fight for Ironrath.  However, the trouble isn’t over when you deal with Gryff.  Ludd Whitehill wants to make a deal with you and let me tell you something The Whitehills suck at making ironwood, so they have to threaten the Forresters into helping them.  While Roose Bolton is an evil and ruthless man, there is no way he’d still side with the Whitehills after seeing their horrible work.  The meeting at their estate does show one key difference between the Forresters and the Whitehills.  Ludd Whitehill cares nothing for Gryff due to being his fourth born son.  Rodrick, on the other hand, loves Ryon, despite him being fourth born, and will do anything he can to bring him back.  Did I mention that, when you leave Ironrath, you have the option of leaving Talia in charge?  I didn’t care for her, at first, but her biting Gryff in the third episode and openly rebelling against the Whitehills shows that there’s more to this young girl than meets the eye.

However, Talia still has a long way to go to catch up to Mira in my eyes.  Margaery might fire her and she still risks her life to discover who’s working for the Whitehills in King’s Landing.  Mira’s plot is about making a deal with her fellow handmaiden, Sera, and snooping around Tommen’s coronation to discover who works for the Whitehills.  I love how the dialogue options can demonstrate that she’s not to be underestimated.  You can also give Mira sweet dialogue options, though whether they’re genuine or she’s playing innocent to get what she wants is up to you.  There is one scene I found rather funny.  When Mira asks about Lyman, a fellow nobleman says that her ears are too delicate to hear such things.  Keep in mind that, as a handmaiden, Mira cleans chamber pots, which are old-fashioned toilets.  Yet she is far too delicate to hear of subjects such as sex, violence and drug addiction.  That logic astounds me.

Last but not least is Asher’s plot, beginning with when you have to explain to Daenarys how you found her dragon.

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I’ll admit that dealing with her can be rather intimidating.  I’m just glad Joffrey or Viserys, Daenarys’s brother, never got dragons.  It’s best not to think about it.  Anyway, you have a hard time convincing her to lend you her sellswords until you agree to go on a stealth mission for her.  You also get to find out about Beshka’s past and, let me tell you, the mission Daenarys sends you on is a conflict of interest.  I won’t give too much away for fear of spoilers, but you do have to stop Beshka when she gets out of hand.

The game play is typical of a game made by Telltale, but executed quite well.  You have to pick dialogue options for each character you play, as I said before.

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You also get to experience quick time events and, let me tell you, they sneak up on you.  My favorite part is when you get to go on a stealth mission for Daenarys as Asher.  That, and beating up Gryff, but it was a little more personal on that one.

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This is the one episode where the items you collect actually play a role.  For instance, if you collected medical supplies when you were at the Maester’s in Episode 1, you can now use them to heal a fallen comrade.  At the end of the episode, you can match up your choices with that of other players.

This game is addictive and intriguing.  I give it 8 out of 10; fun but didn’t get a true emotional reaction out of me.  Being upset over stupid decisions does not count.

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Game of Thrones Episode 1: Iron From Ice (Steam Store)

It’s a time of darkness for the House of Forrester.  House Stark has fallen and Ramsay Snow, the illegitimate son of Roose Bolton, sided with the rival house of Whitehill.  Can the House of Forrester survive Ramsay Snow and restore themselves to former glory?

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This is HBO’s second attempt to enter the gaming world, the first one being The Sopranos video game, which was a failure.  Now Telltale attempts to bring Game of Thrones into the gaming world, HBO’s new cash cow.  The game starts out at the Red Wedding, which is where, as many Game of Thrones fans know, Rob Stark dies.  Since the lord of the Forresters and the main heir perish as well, a child inherits the responsibilities.

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Sadly, that’s usually how things went down during the time period the game models itself after.  Apparently, boys who haven’t gone through puberty made better rulers than fully-grown women.  Though I do like how the game shows that things are changing and how hard it is for Ethan, the new lord, to follow in his father’s footsteps at such a young age when all he wants to do is keep playing with his siblings.  Even if his fate is unavoidable which, I admit, almost made me cry.  As for what that is, keep in mind that you’re dealing with Ramsay Snow.

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For those of you unfamiliar with Game of Thrones, Ramsay Snow is someone who skins people alive in his spare time.

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Definitely not someone you want to get on the bad side of.

As I mentioned, Ramsay Snow makes a few appearances throughout the game.  Let me tell you, he’s not the only Game of Thrones character who does so.  One of the Forresters works as Lady Margaery’s handmaiden, so you can bet that you’ll be seeing much of the Lannisters.

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I’ll admit, I knew that characters from Game of Thrones make an appearance but I thought that it would be as cameos.  I had no idea that they would be a huge part of the storyline.  However, I will say one thing. As scary as Cersei and Ramsay are on the show, having to deal with these people makes them far more intimidating.

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The game play is standard Telltale Games.  You make choices for each character you play with some of them supposedly having a huge impact on the game.

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I’m not sure how big yet, since I’ve only played the first chapter.  I’ve already told you that one of the characters has an unavoidable fate, no matter what you do.  At some points, you can explore certain places and read the codex for background information.  Unlike other Telltales games where you only take control of one character, this one let’s you control different members of the House of Forrester at different times.  So far, their situation and personalities seems very similar to the Starks but I’m hoping the game will expand on the Forresters so that they’re more than just Stark copycats.  You can even compare your choices with those of the other players though, let me tell you, I’ve found myself restarting the game many times over fear that I’ve made the wrong choices.

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This game is intriguing but emotionally overwhelming.  I give it 7 out of 10, a promising start for Telltale’s Game of Thrones adaption.

Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom (PSP Games)

When Chizuru goes to Kyoto to search for her missing father, monsters attack her.  Fortunately, a group of warriors known as the Shinsengumi save her just in time.  Now she finds herself involved in Japanese history in a way she never thought possible.

The plot is loosely similar to HBO’s Rome in that it explores history through the eyes of an ordinary citizen.  This story also interweaves fantasy elements through the lives of the Shinsengumi.

Chizuru and her father are the main factors of this.  The only thing I can say without giving away spoilers is that demons are involved and one element of history that makes it to the game is the introduction of western culture integrating into Japanese life.

I’m sure many of you expect me to complain about Chizuru being a damsel in distress but I’m actually going to give this a pass.  I can’t ignore the fact that this game takes place in a time where the belief that women should stay in the kitchen was very common.  While it’s possible to create strong female characters in a sexist setting (again I look to HBO’s Rome), it is incredibly difficult.  Chizuru has grown up on these beliefs so it’s possible that her subconscious mind will not allow her to take action in a way that in her mind would be inappropriate for her gender.

The game play is your standard visual novel.  During the first three chapters, you make decisions that determine which guy will fall in love with Chizuru at the start of the fourth chapter.  You can choose between Hijikata, Okita, Saito, Heisuke and Harada.  If her relationship with any of them is not high enough, you end up with Kazama.  You can also collect words for your encyclopedia so you can understand what’s going on in the game.  You can also collect pictures for your gallery.

This game is intriguing but gets dull after a while.  I give it 6 out of 10; interesting idea but is a little drawn out at times.

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