I guess you should consider it a good day if you're not stabbed in the back (either literally or metaphorically). Which is how I felt during the all-too-short "The Lost Lords," the second episode in HBO and Telltale Games' collaborative episodic foray into the world of "Game of Thrones." It must say something (either of myself or of the greater "GoT" universe) when I notice that, despite all the crazy nonsense happening around me, there seems to be a distinct lack of duplicity, a shocking dearth of murderous revenge in the name of keeping (or attaining) power.
Don't worry, though: You'll get plenty of chances to stab people. If that's what you're looking for in a "GoT" game -- because who isn't?
"The Lost Lords" takes a strikingly different approach than the first episode, "Iron From Ice," did. Instead of nerve-wracking drama worthy of any soap opera, we're treated to a more visceral experience with the more thorough introduction of Asher Forrester, second-born son to the House of Forrester of Ironrath and a rambunctious, arrogant sellsword (mercenary). Rather than treading lightly between swearing fealty to Cersei and her terrifying son or preventing a crazed lord from harassing your sister at the expense of your life, the decisions and consequences in "The Lost Lords" tend to focus on the physical.
Which is never more true then we control Asher. Diplomacy? Tactics? Pfft. The most conflicting scenarios we're confronted with concern whether we should slay all of our enemies or just most. His swagger is unreal, leading him to constantly banter with sidekick Beskha while generally creating havoc in the conquered slaver city of Yunkai. But even a cocky playboy has loyalties, so when family calls, Asher shows no hesitation in his next move.
Which returns us to more familiar grounds: the mono-tonal Ironrath, where a (somewhat) surprising revelation is made in the return of someone long thought dead by this point. This playable character's return to House Forrester adds quite the interesting plot element to the already overflowing story. During these scenes, we contend with the fallout of "Iron From Ice," most notably the death of several key characters in that first episode. (I did notice that our choice of who would serve as Ethan's adviser, which was a major arc, didn't seem to matter all too much in "The Lost Lords." I hope that changes later down the road.)
But if that weren't monochromatic and dreary enough for you, we get to see The Wall, that imposing, 300-mile-long creation of ice that protects the northern border of the Seven Kingdoms from the wildings that live beyond.
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Gared Tuttle returns as he finishes his journey to The Wall, nearly duplicating Jon Snow's story in the books and TV show. While you won't be surprised by the next couple of events -- mostly consisting of establishing dominance through showings of strength -- it is interesting to befriend Snow and to begin creating friendship in a place that amounts to a glorified penal colony.
It's when we transition to King's Landing, though, that this otherwise slow episode kicks off. Mira Forrester has some important decisions to consider, chief among them being whether she betrays Margaery Tyrell’s trust. (Take your time to decide here, as the game decides not to force your hand with a timer.) Mira's story, by the way, is the only one in this episode where we actually have some of the infamous backstabbing and murderous intentions commonly found in the popular series. The few heart-pounding moments go a long way in bolstering the appeal of "The Lost Lords."
In the end, "The Lost Lords," while engaging, does little to advance the story of the Forresters and their quest to save their family and land from those who would seek to do them harm. We're not told too much more about how the family intends to keep its control of precious ironwood or just what exactly the North Grove is. It's hard to follow up the scarring events of "Iron From Ice," but that's no reason to treat this episode as filler. Perhaps Telltale should have stuck to its typical five-episode season rather than stretch it out over six. Either way, I expect more deaths and devious plotting in further episodes -- something I'd never thought I'd say about "Game of Thrones."
Three "Of course I'm going to stab him!" stars out of five.
Editor's note: This version of "Game of Thrones: Episode 2 - The Lost Lords," reviewed on the PS4, was provided courtesy of Telltale Games.