Tales From the Borderlands is an interactive, episodic game that follows Rhys, a Hyperion corporate man, and Fiona, a Pandoran con artist, who are reluctantly thrown together in search of a Vault on the crazy world of Pandora through 5 instalments. You play as both characters, following the sequence of events from two completely different perspectives in a story in which your choices and actions affect the story and outcome.
Even though Tales From the Borderlands Episode 1 has been out since 25th November 2014, I’m one of the few people who wanted to wait until all 5 episodes were released before starting the series. Since the last episode was released at the end of October, I’ve finally been able to get stuck into Telltale’ Game’s venture into the wonderful world of Borderlands. I’ve really enjoyed the recent offerings from Telltale Games; The Wolf Among Us was what got me into the Fables comics, and I loved the Walking Dead. As a big Borderlands fan, I was really excited to see how they would tackle the grindy, bazillion-gun offering FPS/RPG and, in true Telltale style, they do Borderlands‘ quirky style justice.
As with all the Telltale series games, Tales From the Borderlands has a heavy on story, choices and the characters. Across the five episodes, you take part in a Death Race, a major con, an epic battle, lots of craziness, a heist…so basically, a lot of ground is covered, without giving too much away. The story is really well written and well paced. The game has many laugh out loud moments, especially for the fans of the series, and even a few moving, emotional ones as well. There was no part of the story where I found myself bored, or wanting to rush through it. Instead, I found myself not wanting the story to end, although it was really awesome to see the results of all your choices play out in a really fantastically written and epic ending. Also, this game is hilarious. Seriously.
The two main characters Rhys and Fiona are shaped through whatever choices you make. Effectively, you can decide on what personality you want them to have. This is a really fun feature, and had a laugh with changing how they both react to different situations, allowing to create two really polar opposite protagonists if you really wanted to. It also effects on the relationships you have with the other characters – I had a laugh making Fiona treat certain character’s completely differently to how Rhy’s would treat them. It made for an interesting dynamic. The supporting characters are great as well – they are really well rounded characters that you’ll either love, or love to hate. They fit into the Borderlands universe and narrative seamlessly. There are also appearances from already established characters from the Borderlands games – I was particularly excited to see that my favourite Vault Hunter cropped up (no spoilers though!) Each of these characters are completely in character and completely justified in the story, which shows that Telltale have really taken care to do their source material justice.A move that makes fans, like myself, really happy.
So, there’s no FPS style gameplay to be seen here. The core mechanics are quite basic – point and click adventure, with quick time events, but it’s solid and simple. It keeps you on your toes though – missing the slightest movements could have bad consequences. The game switches between Rhys and Fiona, both of which have a slightly different mechanic to offer. With Rhys, you can use his robot eye to scan your environment (for some nice Borderlands quips) and hack computers. Fiona’s may seem a little more boring in comparison – she has a wallet, which enables her to buy cool cosmetic changes and gives her the option to pick people’s pockets. Always an amusing choice.
Graphically, it’s a sleek looking game, and runs well but it’s cartoony style might not be to everybody’s taste. However, it fits in well with Borderlands’ art style, and I didn’t feel like it was out of place in the series, despite it being the typical Telltale look. The sound design in the game is spot on. The music takes a back seat most of the time, helping to create an atmosphere rather than a masterpiece. There are moments where they use an actual song, and it changes the whole mood of the moment. I actually really enjoyed all those sequences – it was one of the rare times where you could sit back and just watch the craziness happen. The voice acting is also really on point, but with heavy weights like Troy Baker, Laura Bailey and Nolan North amongst the casting, it’s difficult for it to be bad. Also, Patrick Warburton…it made my day hearing his voice.
Overall, I enjoyed every second that I put into this game. Although maybe calling it a game is a bit misleading. It’s more like an interactive experience, and the ‘choose your own adventure’ style gives it a great replayablitiy factor. Even now I’m thinking of how I would tackle my next play though, having the knowledge of the story that I do now. It wasn’t a long game, so you won’t be sinking hours into it, but each chapter was long enough to keep you very interested. If you want something for the story, rather than creative gameplay, then this should definitely be on your radar. It oozes charm with it’s wonderfully written story and loveable characters, and yet still manages to keep that crude Borderlands humour and just over the top silliness in parts. I’ve waited a whole year to play this game, avoiding spoilers, resisting the temptation to play the individual chapters and waiting for all 5 chapters was completely worth it. This is definitely, my favourite Telltale offering so far.
Tales From the Borderlands Episodes 1-5 are available on Playstation, Xbox and PC.