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Telltale Borderlands photo
Telltale Borderlands

Tales from the Borderlands Episode 4 trailer blasts off

'I was wired ready!'
Aug 17
// Darren Nakamura
Tales from the Borderlands: Escape Plan Bravo hits this week, so as is its custom, Telltale has released a trailer to pump audiences up for it. In Catch a Ride we learned Gortys's second upgrade was somewhere up on Heli...
Mii too photo
Mii too

Chinese console knocks off PS4 and Xbox One

Shameless, utterly shameless
Aug 16
// Kyle MacGregor
You'd think China recently ending its ban on foreign video game consoles would end this particular brand of malarkey, but here we are talking about the "OUYE," yet another shameless knock off box. The manufacturer of this And...
Disney Magic Kingdoms photo
Disney Magic Kingdoms

Disney Magic Kingdoms lets you build your ideal theme park

Zack-land isn't far away
Aug 16
// Zack Furniss
Have you ever walked around Disneyland and thought, "Nope, this ride is in the wrong place, they should sell churros at every booth, and there are definitely not enough restrooms in TomorrowLand"? If you share my incredibly s...
Breath of Fire 6 photo
Breath of Fire 6

Breath of Fire 6's Ryu is the protagonist's older brother

Series portal site, webcomic up
Aug 14
// Steven Hansen
Has it really been two years since Capcom took the wind out fans' sails with Breath of Fire 6, the mobile game? Time flies. Capcom has put up a nice Breath of Fire series site filthy with bios, pictures, videos from all game...

Fallout Shelter Android leaderboards already hacked into oblivion

1,000,000,000,000,000 points
Aug 14
// Steven Hansen
Ah, Fallout Shelter has finally come to Android devices. Let's just see who has been excelling at the....oh. Forget it, Jake, it's the easily hacked Android leaderboards. via [Reddit]
Gathering Sky impressions photo
Gathering Sky impressions

Gathering Sky is out today on Steam and mobile, and it's quite relaxing

I want to fly like an eagle
Aug 13
// Ben Davis
Gathering Sky, a game from indie studio A Stranger Gravity about controlling a flock of birds, released on Steam, iOS, and Android today. I got a chance to play around with the Steam version this week, and it's a pretty neat ...
Fallout Shelter photo
Fallout Shelter

Fallout Shelter is now available on Android

For free, still
Aug 13
// Chris Carter
Fallout Shelter isn't as completely devoid of free-to-play tactics as Bethesda would have you believe, but even for a AAA mobile game, it's pretty good. While fans were pissed that it was only announced for iOS following thei...
 Evangelion photo

Neon Genesis Evangelion invades Super Robot Wars X-Ω

Shinji Ikari returns
Aug 12
// Chris Carter
Before you get too excited, note that Super Robot Wars X-Ω is a mobile game. Ok with that out of the way, Bandai Namco has announced that Eva Unit 01 will be joining the cast of the game, complete with pilot Shinji Ikari. He joins guests from 28 properties, including Code Geass, Star Driver, Zegapain, and Full Metal Panic. Uh, this is enough for me to check it out at some point!
Telltale Borderlands photo
Telltale Borderlands

Tales from the Borderlands Episode 4 out next week

Have some screenshots
Aug 12
// Darren Nakamura
From the announcement of the "crowd-play" event at PAX Prime, we knew Tales from the Borderlands: Escape Plan Bravo was imminent. I figured the event attendees would have advance knowledge and the rest of us would get it the ...
1849 Gold Edition photo
1849 Gold Edition

1849 Gold Edition released, letting you live out your gold rush fantasies

Little House on the Prairie but they die
Aug 12
// Joe Parlock
There’s a little game I feel too many people missed by the name of 1849. It’s an indie historical city simulator by Somasim, borrowing from games like CivCity: Rome and Zeus. Set in the United States during the C...
Bling Bling for Blizzard photo
Bling Bling for Blizzard

Wowzers, Hearthstone pulls in $20 million per month

How much of that is you?
Aug 11
// Jed Whitaker
Research firm SuperData is reporting that Blizzard's free-to-play Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is making $20 million a month; more than any other digital card game. When compared to other popular free-to-play games, Hearth...
The Walking Dead photo
The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead: No Man's Land features tactical zombie killing

Voice work not as bad as 'Merlinderl'
Aug 11
// Darren Nakamura
Oh! A game based on The Walking Dead that focuses on tactical zombie survival? Sure, sounds great. Or maybe it doesn't technically sound great, as Norman Reedus really hams up the voice work in this trailer, going overboard w...
Bandai Namco photo
Bandai Namco

Bandai Namco might be localizing Tales of Link

Trademark filed in Europe
Aug 09
// Kyle MacGregor
As spotted by Gematsu, Bandai Namco filed a European trademark for Tales of Link last week. The free-to-play role-playing game launched on iOS and Android devices in early 2014, but only in the Japanese market. Given the publ...

Review: Spider: Rite of the Shrouded Moon

Aug 08 // Ben Davis
Spider: Rite of the Shrouded Moon (PC [reviewed], PS4, Vita, iOS, Android)Developer: Tiger StylePublisher: Tiger StyleRelease Date: August 6, 2015 (PC, iOS) / TBA (PS4, Vita, Android)MSRP: $12.99 Spider is primarily about eating insects and getting high scores. You play as the titular character in a large, seemingly abandoned estate, and come equipped with all of the skills a real spider would have. It can cling to almost any surface, move around very quickly, jump incredible distances, and spin webs to trap prey. Playing as a speedy, acrobatic hunter feels really great, and the controls are very responsive and precise. But on top of the slick web-slinging gameplay, there's also an underlying puzzle game hidden in the recesses of the estate for players who want to delve a bit deeper. The core gameplay is simple enough to learn the basics very quickly. Basically, jump from one surface to another while spinning a web to start building, and try to create geometric shapes which will be filled in automatically once completed. These webs will trap passing insects, which can then be eaten for points and more silk to spin more webs. Eating multiple insects without leaving the web will increase a combo meter, but the combo will reset to zero once the spider touches any other surface. [embed]297461:59879:0[/embed] Gameplay leaves plenty of room to develop new skills and strategies to maximize your score. Combos remain as long as the spider is touching a web, so you can try building multiple webs to jump between to keep the combo going. More points are earned by eating smaller insects first and saving the larger and rarer ones until the combo meter has built up a bit, so figuring out which insects to catch and eat in which order can drastically alter your score. Different insects require different strategies to eat them. Most have to be caught in a web, but some will need to be led into the web somehow and some can only be caught in strong webs. These strong insects might destroy webs that are too weak, releasing any other captured insects in the process. Other insects can only be killed by being tackled, such as hornets and ants. These have a separate combo meter which runs out in ten seconds unless the spider tackles another insect to keep it going. Just jump into them to eat them. No webs necessary! But be careful, because some of them can fight back. Spider also has an interesting time and weather mechanic. The game detects your location and mimics the current time and weather in-game, between four different scenarios (clear day, rainy day, clear night, and rainy night). You can choose to opt out of the location services as well, in which case it just uses the developer's location. It also tracks the current phase of the moon if it's a clear night. The time, weather, and moon phases all affect gameplay in different ways. Certain insects only come out when it's daytime or while it's raining, and some areas can only be accessed during certain weather conditions. Sometimes, the level will feel completely different between night and day. For example, one level in the barn is filled with a normal variety of flying insects during the day, but at night it becomes infested with hornet nests, totally changing the way you play it. My only complaint is that I felt some of the levels could have used more obvious differences between the various time and weather scenarios, but for the most part there was a good variety. Then there are the moon phases, and this is where the underlying puzzle game comes in. While roaming the estate as a spider, you'll come across secret areas and clues pertaining to certain mysteries. Many of these clues can only be found and solved if special requirements are met, such as playing during a new moon or at night while it's raining, although some of them can also be completed whenever. Solving mysteries will unlock more areas to play, and the game cannot be truly beaten until all clues are found and the final mystery is solved. While time traveling and altering weather mechanics is an option for those less patient players, Spider is really meant to be played slowly over a period of time. Try playing at different times of the day to find new stuff. Or if it starts to rain one day, then try to find some time to jump into the game and see what all has changed with the gloomy weather. Once you start finding clues, you can begin to synchronize your gaming schedule with the phases of the moon and plan out certain nights to return to the game to check on something. Eventually, as the month goes on, you'll start to unravel the mysteries of the estate. Or, if you don't care about all that, there's still the incredibly fun web-slinging, insect-catching action to focus on, which should be more than enough to keep you engaged. I'm sure some players will be more involved with achieving high scores and climbing up the leaderboards than trying to solve riddles and look for clues. Either way you choose to play, it's still a great game. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the developer.]
Spider review photo
Strong web
I will take any opportunity to play as an animal in a video game. Let me control a dolphin, a wolf, a shark, or even a tiny little mosquito and I'm happy. As you surely already guessed, Rite of the Shrouded Moon puts the...

Lara Croft GO captures the essence of pure Tomb Raider

Aug 08 // Brett Makedonski
Lara Croft GO fits soundly into that latter category by more than just name alone. Despite being a mobile title, it nicely captures the spirit of the very first Tomb Raider games. Donning her classic outfit, Lara works through level after level in search of an artifact. Puzzle-solving and exploration are earmarks, just as they had been all those years ago. However, the mobile format is what makes GO distinct. Rather than continuous action, this game is turn-based which places a greater emphasis on thinking before moving. A rudimentary example might be a pair of snakes that are facing opposite directions. You always have to attack from the side or back, lest they strike and kill you first. There's only one path that allows for the correct order of operations; the others just leave you dead. But, even when Lara Croft GO deals out frustration, it doesn't negate progress. This is the mobile crowd, after all -- a group that might not have the patience to have its time wasted. Checkpoints come frequently and everything is ever-so bite-sized. On a micro-level, the scale of each section is obviously intentional. Routon says that the studio knows who it's developing for. Despite Lara Croft GO allowing for minimal time investments, Square Enix Montreal is seeing a more encouraging trend. "People intend to play for five minutes, and they end up playing for an hour or more," Routon comments. "We tell playtesters they can leave, but they say they want to finish this puzzle first. I guess that's not a bad thing." [embed]297421:59880:0[/embed] It really doesn't come as a surprise that people don't want to put Lara Croft GO down. It elegantly encapsulates what makes Tomb Raider work, and boils it down to its purest form. Swipe, swipe, swiping on the screen is so simple, yet it doesn't feel cheap to lead Lara on an adventure in this fashion. Helping production values are the strong aesthetic and the narrative told only through gameplay details. Although it's in the mobile market, Square Enix Montreal prices its titles more traditionally. GO will be available on August 27, but the cost is unknown right now (Hitman Go released at $4.99). Once invested, this game is fully playable at any speed; there are no energy meters to temper progress. Routon confirmed that there will be microtransactions of some sort, but their nature will be puzzle solutions for those who are struggling. In a wasteland of freemium games, this price model is commendable. More commendable, however, is the way that Square Enix Montreal boldly gets back to the roots of Tomb Raider. Series veterans will rediscover a Lara Croft that they know and love in a format that's undiscovered to them. Fitting, seeing as Tomb Raider should be all about discovery.
Lara Croft GO preview photo
Swipe right
Antoine Routon grinned. "We have people knocking down our door saying 'Can you do our game too?'" Routon's the lead programmer at Square Enix Montreal -- the publisher's studio that's dedicated to mobile titles. Square Enix h...

Lara Croft GO photo
Lara Croft GO

Lara Croft GO launches on August 27

Just in time for PAX
Aug 08
// Kyle MacGregor
I was pretty fond of Lara Croft GO, the new minimalist Tomb Raider from Square Enix Monréal, when I checked out the game at E3 a couple months ago. So, I'm delighted to hear we needn't wait too much...
gamescom trailer photo
gamescom trailer

Pac-Man 256 turns infamous glitch into gameplay

Namco not using Pac-Man inappropriately?
Aug 07
// Steven Hansen
Namco has finally managed to do something with Pac-Man that is not hopelessly sad. Here's an extended look at Hipster Whale's (Crossy Road) Pac-Man 256 out of gamescom. It's coming this summer to iPhone, iPad, Google Play a...
Telltale Borderlands PAX photo
Telltale Borderlands PAX

PAX Prime attendees able to 'crowd play' Tales from the Borderlands Episode 4

Potential hints about its release date
Aug 06
// Darren Nakamura
With just a little over three weeks to go, PAX Prime is almost upon us. The full schedule isn't available yet, but Telltale sent over a snippet including its plans at the sold out gathering. On Saturday, August 29, Telltale w...
Spider versed photo
Spider versed

You're a spider in Spider and real-life weather changes the game

PlayStation 4, Vita, PC, and more
Jul 31
// Steven Hansen
I was going to get into my usual spiel about earning a subtitle, but Spider: Rite of the Shrouded Moon is actually a sequel to 2009's Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor. So 2009's Spider gets a posthumous talking to for colon...

Review: Angry Birds 2

Jul 31 // Chris Carter
Angry Birds 2 (Android, iOS [reviewed on an iPhone 6])Developer: Rovio EntertainmentPublisher: Rovio EntertainmentRelease Date: July 30, 2015MSRP: Free-to-play Yes, it's still the same concept as before -- you'll take a handful of birds, and with the help of a slingshot, fire them into the path of evil pigs. Just like before, it's still really fun to unwind and fling things around, and actual designs of some of these forts and contraptions hasn't gotten stale. Sure it's mostly mindless, but there's a great degree of skill involved with Angry Birds as well, like identifying specific objects like TNT, and certain degrees of structural integrity to do the most damage. This depth is aided by the fact that like in Angry Birds Star Wars II, you can choose individual birds to use in each level. Levels are much more interesting as you can now approach them multiple ways, not only in terms of figuring out solutions, but different methodologies in which to reach your end goal. It's also a beautiful game, and Rovio has mastered their craft to the point where it has production values much like a fully-fledged Disney experience. I love how bright everything is, and how charming the character designs are even to this day. Now here comes the bad news -- Rovio got greedy. Unfortunately, it has heavily incorporated free-to-play elements into the game in just about every way possible. There's an energy meter, there are in-app-purchases (IAP), and it constantly nags you to connect to Facebook. Let me break it down though so you better understand exactly what went wrong. In terms of energy, players can thankfully continue to play levels without using up your stock of five "hearts," but if you fail a level once, you'll need to use some stock. This is an issue after level 20 or so, as stages become so complex that you'll often need to give them a go a few times. [embed]296952:59745:0[/embed] It also exposes the "multi-tier" format of Angry Birds 2's stage design. In short, each individual world map level can have multiple arenas within it, so if you fail on a later tier, you'll fail the whole thing. It's actually a cool idea in theory, as you have to play conservatively and try to earn more lives constantly, but it all falls apart when you add in an energy scheme. IAP feels wholly unnecessary, as the game charges a ton of "gems" to continue mid-level after failing to come back to life. Gems are earned at a rate of roughly one continue per 45 minutes, lest you opt to buy them. The sad part is that unlike most of the iterations in the past, there's no option for a premium version. Say what you will about the franchise, but Rovio has generally done pretty well in a sea of freemium-fests over the years, providing fans with a way to buy a game outright. But with Angry Birds 2, you'll have to suffer through all of the fixin's that Rovio forced into the game. Angry Birds 2 proves that the Angry formula is still fun, but Rovio isn't doing itself any favors by gating that fun left and right. Angry Birds is supposed to be a series you can just pick up and play, and I have no idea what they were thinking here -- other than "more money."
Angry Birds 2 review photo
I'm the angry one
As I've said a million times in the past, I have no real problem with the original Angry Birds and the initial string of sequels. Yes, it was a derivative of Crush the Castle, but Banjo-Kazooie was a derivative of M...

Angry Birds 2 photo
Angry Birds 2

None of the Angry Birds 2 Angry Birds look like happy birds

Flippin' the bird
Jul 30
// Brett Makedonski
Like a story Alfred Hitchcock once told, our fine, feathered friends aren't in a good mood today. The aviary community is up in wings over the launch of Angry Birds 2 on Android and iOS. They're irritated, upset, pissed...
FNAF dev is a nice guy photo
FNAF dev is a nice guy

Five Nights at Freddy's dev delivers motivational speech

Five Nights and seven bears ago...
Jul 29
// Jed Whitaker
Love it or hate it, the Five Nights at Freddy's series is a roaring success, and is surely raking in even more cash after the recently released fourth game. Developer Scott Cawthon has taken to the Steam Community forums to answer the haters and inspire his fans. 
Dropsy photo

Well, I'm no longer afraid of Dropsy the clown

I am scared of whatever that was at 0:35
Jul 29
// Jordan Devore
Dropsy is a well-intentioned, upbeat clown who happens to be utterly terrifying. He's misunderstood! Given my fear of grotesque clowns, I've kept my distance, but curiosity got the better of me here. I clicked the trailer. It...
Alphabear mad libs photo
Alphabear mad libs

Some of the best Alphabear mad libs out there

It's what's for dinner
Jul 28
// Darren Nakamura
Alphabear has been out for a few weeks now, but we haven't done much talking about it since its release. That's a dang shame, because it might just be one of my favorite games of 2015. On its surface it's just a word game, bu...

Review: Adventure Time Puzzle Quest

Jul 27 // Chris Carter
Adventure Time Puzzle Quest (Android, iOS [reviewed])Developer: WayForward, Cartoon NetworkPublisher: D3 Go!Released: July 23, 2015MSRP: Free (with microtransactions) If you've never played a Puzzle Quest game before, the concept is fairly easy to grasp -- it's a match-three. All you have to do is switch tiles to create matches of at least three of a certain color, and you'll do a certain amount of damage to enemy forces, which you'll do battle with in an RPG-like format. That's basically it, as the series is a bit more active than a lot of other puzzlers in the same subgenre. Except with Adventure Time, a few extra cogs have been thrown into the machine to spice things up a bit. Enemy mice tiles will slowly make their way to the top of the screen, worms will periodically lower your health if they aren't dealt with, and other tiles may explode after a certain amount of time. It's up to you to manage offense and defense, alongside of your party abilities (such as Jake's taunt) to clear out your foes as quickly as possible. On paper, it actually sounds pretty cool. You'll start with Finn and Jake on a fun little adventure to rescue Ice King's drumset, and go from there to other quest-givers like Princess Bubblegum and Flame Princess. The animations for attacks are neat, especially Jake, who transforms into giant boots and jackhammers to smite baddies. But as time goes on, you'll start to understand more of how the freemium nature of the game spills into every facet of the experience, which significantly sours things. For one, combat is painfully slow. Even on the fifth mission of the game, damage starts to become woefully low, both on your side and with the enemy forces. There were times were I was doing 5% damage to one enemy with a multi-combo attack, and sometimes it takes up to 10 seconds for the matches and your attack animation to play. These aren't epic boss fights with villains like Hunson Abadeer or the Earl of Lemongrab either -- they're mere skirmishes with rats. This all plays into the in-app purchase (IAP) scheme. Multiple confusing currencies can be used to heal or revive characters (a soft energy system), buy them equipment, and buy temporary "recruits." Almost everything ties into IAP, to the point where after only an hour the game tempts you to constantly replenish your party and buy new items to make battles go faster. It's just too much, and even though there is a tournament mode that hosts different daily events, it all feels like a slog. If you've never played the series before and the concept sounds interesting, just go with the original game (which has hit multiple platforms at this point), the legion of other match-threes that spawned after it, or the superior Marvel Puzzle Quest, which is a much more respectable mobile rendition. Cartoon Network really needs to re-evaluate the developers it chooses for the Adventure Time license, because this series deserves better, and has performed poorly for far too long. [This review is based on a retail build of the free-to-play game.]
Puzzle Quest review photo
Vengeance for Orgalorg
I have a love-hate relationship with Adventure Time. In recent years, there hasn't been much in the way of consistent character development or advancement of the core plot, outside of a select few instances per season. Yet, I...

Half Life photo
Half Life

You can now play Half-Life on your watch

Watches are getting crazy technical
Jul 27
// Laura Kate Dale
Hey Half-Life fans looking for any kind of Half-Life fix to fill the void in your life created by Half-Life never getting a proper ending, I have some cool tech news for you. If you happen to own an Android-powered smart watc...

Review: Divide by Sheep

Jul 24 // Darren Nakamura
Divide by Sheep (Android, iOS, Mac, PC [reviewed])Developer: Victor Solodilov and Denis NovikovPublisher: tinyBuildReleased: July 2, 2015MSRP: $2.99 (Android, iOS), $4.99 (Mac, PC)Rig: AMD Phenom II X2 555 @ 3.2 GHz, with 4GB of RAM, ATI Radeon HD 5700, Windows 7 64-bit Like many well-designed puzzle games, Divide by Sheep starts out with a simple premise, which it builds upon as the player progresses. Groups of sheep in numbers ranging from one to nine are spread across platforms whose sizes can vary within that same range. Sheep can be moved between adjacent platforms, but if a group size ever exceeds the destination platform size then the excess sheep are thrown into the water and drowned. The goal is to load life rafts with sheep, but only in specified numbers. Too few and the raft won't launch, too many and the raft will spring a leak and sink. Hitting one numerical goal for a level will unlock the next, but mastering a level requires three quotas to be met in a specific order. In the beginning, there isn't a lot to think about. The options for adding and subtracting sheep from a group are small: combine two groups together to increase the number or throw more sheep than a platform can hold to decrease. It might sound complex in writing, but it's an easy concept to pick up after a few minutes of play. [embed]296494:59650:0[/embed] Not far in, Divide by Sheep introduces new elements to use toward the end of filling up life rafts. Fences block movement between adjacent platforms. Dynamite platforms explode and disappear if they have no occupants. Laser fields will slice sheep in half so one divided sheep takes up two spots on a platform. (This is where the name of the game comes in.) The first major change comes with the introduction of wolves. If a wolf and a sheep share the same platform, the wolf will eat the sheep and become so obese it cannot be moved or fed again. Wolves have their own life rafts and the two species can never commingle on rafts. It almost reminds me of the old fox/rabbit/cabbage puzzle; there are constant calculations for when and how to feed the wolves in order to get the right number of animals to safety. A wolf can be fed to completion on half a sheep, so one sheep sent through a laser can feed two wolves. With all of the mechanics put together, there are several ways to add and subtract from groups of sheep and wolves. What I like about the setup is that even though there is often only one three-star solution to a puzzle, there are several different avenues to mentally attack it from. In some levels when the quotas are high, it's important to note exactly how many animals can be safely sacrificed. Others require a different kind of foresight, forcing one initial move since all others would lead to failure. Still more are so complex that a sort of trial-and-error can reveal the path to the best answer. The next big wrinkle comes in the Dark World, where Death finally shows up. He has rafts of his own, and he is collecting souls. It doesn't matter how the animals die; they can be drowned, sliced, eaten, or burned and he will take them. It eventually gets to a point where sheep can do double duty in terms of raft occupancy. The sheep can be cut in half to fill Death's raft, then duct taped back together to fill a sheep raft. That highlights the odd tone of Divide by Sheep. At a glance, it looks like an average cartoony mobile title. The soundtrack is bouncy and upbeat. So the juxtaposition of that G-rated presentation and the graphic slaughter with copious amounts of blood is funny in the same way the fictional cartoon The Itchy & Scratchy Show is. It would be disturbing if it weren't also adorable. Divide by Sheep hits the perfect level of difficulty, where every stage makes me think for at least a few seconds (and often for several minutes), but each one is also small and self-contained enough that persistence and critical thinking can always lead to victory. It has never felt too easy nor have I ever been permanently stumped. It's smart, it's pretty, and it never dwells on any one idea for too long. At its heart is a quality math puzzler, but what makes it shine is the dark comedy found in killing cartoon animals just to satisfy some arbitrary numerical requirements. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Divide by Sheep review photo
Not baaad
Death is lonely. Death wants some company. So naturally he would flood a plain filled with sheep and wolves, then float rafts requiring very specific numbers of dead creature souls at a time. Obviously. Divide by Sheep is a math-based puzzle game and to that end it works well. What makes it noteworthy is the window dressing, a whimsical cartoon presentation of fairly morbid subject matter.

Fallout Shelter photo
Fallout Shelter

Fallout Shelter (Death)claws its way to Android in mid-August

Can you survive until then?
Jul 24
// Brett Makedonski
It doesn't quite carry the weight of the "available now on iOS" announcement from E3, but Fallout Shelter will come to Android devices in just under three weeks' time. Bethesda's revealed that it's set for an August 13 l...
Game of Thrones screens photo
Game of Thrones screens

Game of Thrones: A Nest of Vipers screenshots, we have some

Jul 21
// Darren Nakamura
Another episode of Game of Thrones: A Telltale Game Series, another batch of screens I took while playing through for review. This batch seems especially small, for two reasons. For one, I was less diligent about taking scree...

Review: Game of Thrones: A Telltale Game Series: A Nest of Vipers

Jul 21 // Darren Nakamura
Game of Thrones - A Telltale Game Series: A Nest of Vipers (Android, iOS, Mac, PC [reviewed], PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developer: Telltale GamesPublisher: Telltale GamesReleased: July 21, 2015MSRP: $4.99 (episode), $29.99 (season)Rig: AMD Phenom II X2 555 @ 3.2 GHz, with 4GB of RAM, ATI Radeon HD 5700, Windows 7 64-bit [Editor's note: there will be no major spoilers present for the episode reviewed here, but events in previous episodes may be discussed.] Throughout the series, Asher and Mira have been the more interesting characters to follow, the former for his action and wit and the latter for her suspense and guile. Ethan and Rodrik at Ironrath have been fine as central characters, but haven't stood out. Gared's exploits at The Wall and beyond have easily been the least exciting thus far. A Nest of Vipers shakes up that split, if only a little. Asher still stands at the top with scenes dense with action and dialogue choices that feel important. He and his partner Beskha find themselves in a fighting pit in Meereen, seeking combatants to follow them back to Westeros. During this sequence, the stakes are high and it genuinely seems like failure is possible, forcing Asher to return home without any extra aid. One other point for Asher is Telltale's injection of humor into his lines. Though Game of Thrones takes an entirely different tack than Tales from the Borderlands, the little pockets of comedy help to break up the oppressively somber tone of the episode. One line in particular had me audibly chuckling, which I think is a first for this series. [embed]296123:59553:0[/embed] Mira's sections, on the other hand, lacked a lot of the punch they have had in past episodes. Where the coronation ceremony scene in Sons of Winter left me feeling smart for having successfully navigated and manipulated King's Landing politics, both of Mira's major scenes here just had me along for the ride. The first scene is one with Cersei and the second features Tyrion in his cell, locked up and awaiting trial for the incident at Joffrey's wedding. Perhaps because she was playing opposite two of the strongest personalities in Westeros, Mira didn't seem to do anything important or have much of an impact. This episode does set up for one final showdown with Cersei, in what sounds like it might be a life-or-death situation. Gared's journey toward the nebulous North Grove continues, and how it can possibly help House Forrester so many miles south is still a mystery. That said, it's finally getting to the point where Gared feels important again. The first four episodes were spent putting him in place, first getting him to The Wall, then getting him north of it. Now he actually gets to do something. Of all the intertwined stories, Gared's feels the most hopeful at this point. He's in a pretty sticky situation, but it's difficult to imagine a scenario where he doesn't make it out to at least play his part in the grand scheme during the finale. Everybody else in House Forrester might die and the clan might be wiped from the map, but he's going to get to the dang North Grove. Next time. The crux of the story still lies in Ironrath, with Rodrik dealing with the fallout from the last episode. It's a little disappointing; all of the clever politicking from Episode Four is essentially nullified by the traitor. Where it previously seemed like a peaceful resolution could be possible, it's now clear that this story can only end with bloodshed. That isn't to say Rodrik's sections were bad; there were still plenty of interesting decisions to make along the way. They may not all have a major effect on where things end up, but a few appeared to have serious immediate consequences and a few others appeared to affect how the final episode will shake out. This episode culminates with a particularly emotionally impactful finale, the kind Telltale has steeled us for with series like The Walking Dead. It's difficult to discuss without going too far into spoiler territory, but I can say that I was thinking about the last scene hours after I played through it the first time. It could go down as the most memorable section for the entire series. It's strange. Detailing all of A Nest of Vipers' parts makes it sound about average, if not even a little disappointing compared to the previous episode. But this one ends up working well as a cohesive unit, even if some pieces fall flat. This episode has its highs and its lows, but it still leaves an unforgettable impression. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Game of Thrones review photo
Now we're getting somewhere
Anyone following my exploits as House Forrester in Telltale's slice of A Song of Ice and Fire will know that the first four episodes have been a lot of setup for the main event. While only one episode felt like filler (The Lo...

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