The most recent season of Game of Thrones has begun, and I expect that, at some point soon, it will come to a thunderous end. But you wouldn’t know it from watching the thing. If you’re anything like me, the first two episodes you’ve seen will mostly have irritated you. The only thing of substance in the first came at the tail end, and it was resolved, with relatively little drama, in the second episode; in the meantime, everyone in Winterfell is steeling themselves for a fight, but it feels more like Waiting for Godot – a frozen castle and the threat of endless night is very Beckett, only without much of the profundity. Anyway, here are some video games I wish the show would take heed of.
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater – Calm down with the briefings, please
The first episode of season 8, entitled Winterfell, could have been a YouTube recap. Actually it was a YouTube recap, but it was one that took an hour. It reminded me of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, a game I adore but one that takes an awfully long time to actually begin. As Snake would famously repeat key phrases from his briefing – Virtuous Mission?!? – and prompt lengthy explanations, so too do many of the scenes in Winterfell feel as if I had said, ‘Targaryen?!’ ‘White... Walkers?!’ and ‘The Greyjoys?!’ Considering the popularity of the phrase ‘The North Remembers,’ it’s remarkable how much they seem to think we’ve forgotten.
Panzer Dragoon – Don’t just ride dragons for no reason
Unless you’re mounting up for a delicious bit of on-rails shooting, don’t set a scene of dead dialogue on the back of a couple of flying dragons, as if it’s going to distract people from the fact that the scene is perfunctory. Jon and Daenerys got on top of some dragons, ride them about, land somewhere, and the scene ends – clutching six or seven minutes of my life in its scaly claws. The only dragon riding that is permitted from this point on is one that entails firepower. Somebody get the folks at HBO a Sega Saturn and a copy of Panzer Dragoon so we can give dragons the bombastic treatment they deserve!
Second Sight and Psi-Ops and Psychonauts – Pay more attention to the psychic chap
This one is starting to really annoy me. Every scene I see in which Bran Stark lurks at the back of rooms delivering epigrammatic one-liners, I think I’m going to scream. Sam Tarley, Jaime Lannister, Sansa Stark, and Jon Snow – there’s four people, off the top of my head, that are aware that the lad is psychic and has the ability to see through time. Why is no one using that? Hey Bran, are we going to win this one or should we retreat? Hey Bran, could you let us know what Cersei is up to, please? Hey Bran, what’s Benjen up to? You need only play Second Sight or Psi-Ops or Psychonauts to see the value in psychics. They’re brilliant; the fellow in Second Sight could pick people up with his brain. (There was a scene in which Tyrion sits with the lad, so perhaps he’s on to something.)
Left 4 Dead – these zombies should really pick up the pace
As a diehard George A. Romero fan, I’m aware of the blasphemy of wishing for running zombies. However if the White Walkers would rebrand themselves the White Joggers I’d be a lot less frustrated. So far, this eighth season has been zombified in its pacing, and I’m starting to think that the writers could have taken some inspiration from the convulsing hordes of Left 4 Dead. Say what you will about the gradual building of atmosphere, but you can’t deny that when those ghouls come sprinting towards you there’s a hell of a lot more excitement – which is something that this season is in desperate need of.
Skyrim – Get some of that lore to the fore
One thing that’s really been grinding my gears is the show’s strange commitment to vagueness. Gendry can’t even describe what the White Walkers are like without acting like this, when, actually, some nuts and bolts combat advice would have been great. But also, those cryptic ‘messages’ – the ones laid out in limbs by the Night King – seem to hint at some ancient lore. What the show could do with is some cast-iron mythology, the likes of which you come across in Skyrim; it isn’t as though, with dragons soaring overhead and zombies marching from the North, the show has any sort of ambiguity. There’s definitely magic afoot, but it’s rarely talked about. I’m not suggesting they have characters reading tome after tome out loud on screen, but just if people could talk about things in plain terms without doing this. That would be nice.
Devil May Cry 5 and Sekiro – Get Jaime Lannister on it
To play video games in 2019 is to be sold on the weaponised potential of losing a limb. Both Devil May Cry 5 and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice have heroes – in Nero and in Wolf, who use their prosthetic limbs for all manner of brilliant things: Grappling hooks, lasers, bombs, fold-out spears, flamethrowers, gadgets that slow down time (although, actually, that’s the last thing this season of Game of Thrones needs). I don’t know what Jaime Lannister is doing with a boring old golden hand, but if the team behind the show had been keeping up with this years video game releases, they might have been inspired to spearhead the war with a one-man, one-hand assault. The White Walkers wouldn’t stand a chance!