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Video Game Review: Game of Thrones, Episode 3

March 25, 2015 | by Herija Green | Comments (0)
The Sword in the Darkness
You knelt as boys…

Please note that since each episode of Game of Thrones features the same graphics engine and control setup, those elements will not be repeated in our reviews for the final five episodes. To read our thoughts on that, refer to our review of Iron from Ice.

When last we left House Forrester, Asher had reunited with his uncle and was seeking a sell-sword army, Mira was getting in over her head in King’s Landing with her efforts to aid her family, Gerard Tuttle was walking in Jon Snow’s footsteps at the Wall and Rodrik was being bullied by the insufferable House Whitehill. Thankfully, unlike The Lost Lords, The Sword in the Darkness starts moving the plot forward in significant ways.

As with the last episode we start off across the Narrow Sea with Asher, Beskha and Malcolm trying to reach Meereen, where the Second Sons are camped. Their surprise encounter is pretty interesting — both as an action sequence and segue to future conversations (and perhaps alliances?) — and it offers us the first Walking Dead style “pick one to help” situation. It’s a great way to jump start the episode, and it lays some groundwork for potential issues down the road.

More significant than that, however, is how well The Sword in the Darkness salvages Gerard’s role. After last episode it was hard to see what the point of his storyline was, but a visit from Duncan, Gerard’s uncle, weaves him right back in as it seems the mysterious North Grove mentioned at the series’ start is actually located north of the Wall. No one’s sure exactly where, but it’s being left to Gerard to forsake his vows and strike out on his own the next time he’s sent ranging.

Duncan isn’t the only new arrival at Castle Black, either, as the man who killed Gerard’s father has been sentenced to live out his days on the Wall. While it does feel more than a little convenient he’d end up there with you — after all, he was backed by the Whitehills and, by extension, the Boltons, so I’m not sure why he’d be punished or by whom — it does offer a chance to gain revenge, which is decidedly rare for the Game of Thrones universe.

It’s worth noting that the segments at the Wall inadvertently show the limitations of choice with the TellTale series. Even though there are dialogue options to the contrary, you literally can’t choose to honor your vows and stay at the Wall. There’s a similar feel to interactions with your father’s killer as well. Add that to how easily the fallout from last episode’s big conflict at Castle Black is brushed aside and Gerard’s tale, while fun, feels very pre-determined.

Mira’s story, on the other hand, seems to be brimming with major decisions with tangible fallout from those choices. Your position of being caught between Cersei, Tywin and Margaery seems to be a true no win situation, and it’s an interesting balancing act trying to stay on their respective good sides while still attempting to help your family’s tenuous position. More than any other arc, Mira’s political machinations feel grounded in the Game of Thrones style of storytelling.

Speaking of House Forrester’s fragile state, by far the weakest elements of The Sword in the Darkness take place when controlling Rodrik. Here we’re introduced to Gryff Whitehill, the fourth-born son of Lord Whitehill, who continues the humiliation and mistreatment of the family and the people of Ironrath. At this point we’ve received the message that the Whitehills are scum loud and clear, and Gryff comes off as nothing more than a placeholder for his father in doling out indignities.

There is one major reveal on the Ironrath front that keeps that storyline from being completely stagnant, but still, we’d like to see things start progessing a little more substantially with Rodrik.

OVERALL (4.25/5)

After stumbling a bit in Episode 2, The Sword in the Darkness gets things headed in the right direction with at least three of the four storylines. With a couple good action sequences and meatier choices on offer, TellTale’s Game of Thrones is gaining momentum.

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Video Game Review: Final Fantasy Type-0 HD

March 20, 2015 | by Herija Green | Comments Comments Off
While Final Fantasy has moved away from turn-based combat, it still maintained a number of similarities such as allowing you to queue up actions and stat-based encounters. All of that is out the window here, as Type-0 HD is straight real-time action. You control one member of your three-person team at a time and are able to switch between them on the fly with the d-pad. Each offers a unique weapon and skills, and you’re free to mix and match your pairings.
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Video Game Review: Ori and the Blind Forest

March 11, 2015 | by Herija Green | Comments Comments Off
In classic Metroidvania fashion, obtaining new skills grants access to new areas. For example, a feather allows you to glide across long divides or maneuver through serpentine spike pits — feats that would’ve been otherwise impossible. Later, it can be used to ride wind currents. It’s this cleverness that really allows Ori and the Blind Forest to stand out. The game offers multiple uses for Ori’s abilities and consistently asks you to string them together in different ways.
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Video Game Review: Dead or Alive 5 Last Round

February 24, 2015 | by Herija Green | Comments Comments Off
A deep selection of fighters is always a welcome sight, and Last Round has a whopping 34 characters to choose from. This includes the Ultimate DLC lineup (Marie Rose, Nyotengu and Phase-4) along with two newcomers in Raidou, the boss from the original Dead or Alive game, and Honoka. None of these additions are likely to be fan favorites, at least for their fighting styles, particularly given the recycled feel of Phase-4 (another clone of Kasumi) and Honoka.
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Video Game Review: Game of Thrones, Episode 2

February 3, 2015 | by Herija Green | Comments Comments Off
After setting a lot of things in motion in the first episode, with critical decisions aplenty and a surprising ending, Game of Thrones’ second act (The Lost Lords) does little to advance the story in meaningful ways as it crams four separate plotlines into less than two hours of game time.
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