Borderlands is such a unique series. Where some games get the atmosphere down to a tee but the gameplay is sub-par or vice versa, Borderlands excels at both. A stylistic world with fun unique characters, engaging loot driven FPS gameplay, and outrageous humor throughout. When Telltale announced they would be making a game based on the Borderlands universe, I cannot describe how excited I was. With their handling of The Walking Dead, (and later The Wolf Among Us), I had no worries that the team would be able to make a game that does the series justice. Now we have the first episode of Tales From The Borderlands available to us. How is it you might ask?
You start off the game by controlling Rhys (pronounced Re-ese) , who's looking to get a big promotion at Hyperion. Things quickly go south and soon you find yourself on Pandora, looking to make a deal for a vault key. Without getting into details, there are twists and turns in just about every scene, and things don't always go according to plan. Then just before you know it, you switch over to the other main playable character, Fiona. As we see things from her perspective, the story really comes together as we see each of the main characters' side of the events. The switching between characters happens a couple of times later in the episode, always keeping things interesting. The switching is handled well, I never felt bored with either character.
Controlling two different characters that effect the story is a nice tactic; it keeps the story fresh while providing two different perspectives. Seeing the Vault Key deal go down as Rhys, then to see it from Fiona's side gives a broader view of the story. Dialogue choices for each character can also bring changes to each character. It was nice playing as Rhys, however one choice of dialog made me look like the ultimate bad guy in a situation; You never know which choice will lead to an alternate reaction, and it absolutely screams replay value.
While you will not be going full on first-person-mode (there is a spot with a loader bot that pays respect to the series FPS roots), most of the intense action scenes are done through quick time events. While I don't find them that difficult, failing certain events will bring a Game Over message to your screen, with Rhys hilariously saying "Well that's what WOULD have happened if I failed." If you've played The Walking Dead or The Wolf Among Us, you know what to expect in these quick time events.
Speaking of Telltale's previous games, that's what I find so great about Tales From The Borderlands. While dialog choices and QTE events are almost the same as some of their other games, Tales From The Borderlands doesn't feel stale. Its own environment and humor make the game stand out on its own, rather than just a carbon copy of the others. The environments, the art-style, the over the top entrances for each character; those elements that made Borderlands so fun in the first place are here. While knowledge of the Borderlands franchise might help you a bit to understand some of the lore and characters, you really do not need any of it to enjoy this game. While Zer0 is not the only character you will recognize (I won't spoil any others), the new characters we meet feel right at home with the Borderlands franchise.
Even with all these highs there are a few misteps. Playing on the PC, I noticed quite a bit of bad lip-syncing, with the words often time not matching the character's mouth. It certainly did not derail my experience, nor should it for anyone else's, but it was something that was noticeable. Rhys has a cybernetic eye that can scan objects and people, often time revealing some hilarious information. Other than the first time you get to use it, I didn't find it really useful. Maybe that will change in later episodes, but for now it just seems to be used to get some laughs if you look hard enough. Fiona can collect cash, but in this episode, there was nothing useful I could spend it on. It's a nice idea and hopefully the later episodes will make better use of the cash system.
Even with minor flaws, Tales From The Borderlands delivers on its first episode. Telltale (with help from Gearbox) make this game one that everyone can enjoy, not just fans of the Borderlands franchise. With some memorable moments, great characters, fun QTE, and laugh out loud humor, Tales From The Borderlands certainly hits more than it misses. With a cliffhanger ending, I cannot wait to continue this tale from the Borderlands.
Time Played: 4 Hours (Two playthroughs)
- + Signature Borderlands look and humor
- + Fun and Interesting characters
- + Interesting story
- - Lip-syncing