Tales from the Borderlands Ep. 1 Review: Who Needs Guns?

November 28th, 2014 -

I’ve been a fan of Borderlands since it first launched. While the gameplay was what originally drew me in, once the first batch of DLC launched, I fell in love with the writing. And when I think of writing in games, I think of Telltale. While I wasn’t too sure how their recent formula would fit into the world of Pandora, I was excited to see where it went. And with the recent release of Zer0 Sum, my questions were answered.

tales_zer0

Tales from the Borderlands takes place after all the previous entries, and unlike the other games, you don’t play as a vault hunter in this one. Hell, you can barely handle a weapon. And this is wonderful. Pandora is still populated by people and creatures that want you dead, but you no longer play a force to be reckoned with. Fights leave you wondering how you’ll get through each situation. Your first battle takes place with a Loader Bot fighting for you, and if you think you like Claptrap, wait until you see this guy. Depending on your decisions for building him, the fight plays out differently. I didn’t expect one of my favorite characters to be something I killed hundreds of times in Borderlands 2. The game is beautifully animated, seeming right at home in the series, with familiar faces showing up here and there.

The episode is a little over two hours long, and you can expect to enjoy every moment of it. Be it with Rhys, the man trying to get his promotion at Hyperion by heading to Pandora, or Fiona, a con artist trying to get by on the ravenous planet. What really pushes the fact that these characters are in a much more dangerous situation than you have been in previous iterations is the appearance of Zero, the assassin from Borderlands 2. While you struggle with mere skags, you’ll see Zero tearing through enemies, and even a boss you would normally be killing yourself, but wouldn’t fathom taking on in this. Instead, you’re in the background of this fight, being involved within the peon chaos while witnessing the epic boss battle from time to time, with your goal of acquiring a briefcase with 10 millions dollars.

loaderbot-v2

As mentioned previously, this series of episodes will play very much like The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us, so if you’ve played either you know what to expect. A story unfolds with you making decisions from time to time, in some cases they are much more important than others, and you’ll occasionally get to points of the game with point-and-click features. The game features a money system which is… interesting. You’ll be able to acquire money after others die and you pick up their loot, and you can then use that money in situations such as conversations, or even buying items for the upcoming section of the game. It’s not perfect, especially when you don’t realize what you’re doing at first… but it’ll be interesting to see where it leads in the future episodes. In all likelihood, you’ll recognize the voice actors in the game, as they are all very popular in modern day media (Troy Baker, Nolan North, Patrick Warburton to name a few). Each person does a great job selling their performances, bringing the world to life.

The game is a great addition to the Borderlands series, with Rhys and Fiona bringing a breath of fresh air to the violence ridden world. Telltale tackles the over-the-top violence of Borderlands as well, and some of the most distressing violence isn’t even supposed to happen – that is to say, you get a game over because you die. However, as the game is told in a format of you recalling what happened, the character typically says something along the lines of “that’s what could have happened if…” But there’s something shocking about seeing your character die in Tales from the Borderlands, even after having been killed as a plot point so many times in the past (whichever FPS from the past seven years you prefer). That is a feat, and attributed to their rich story telling and beautiful animation. I also viewed it as someone living with the violence, opposed to someone that murders everyone they meet just because. The gore, while at times in excess, almost feels like it’s from the character’s perception, opposed to what is really happening. Of course, this is Pandora, and the extraordinary is natural. While the deaths can be gruesome, they’re also hilarious in most cases.

tales_bossanova_shade

Telltale have found an intriguing game model, and while previous games focused more on drama (as will their upcoming Game of Thrones series), Borderlands allows them to be ridiculous again. Drama is great and all, but humor goes a long way, especially in games. Future episodes may not be ast strong as this one, but if it makes me laugh as much as Zer0 Sum did, I’m not sure I’ll really care if it’s filler. I’ll be reviewing the upcoming entries as well, but as of now, I can say episode one (and most likely the season) is worth the purchase.

BUY

Pros

  • Wonderful Script/Acting
  • Beautiful Animation
  • Lots of Promise

Cons

  • Money is Weird
  • Big Decisions Appear to Carry Less Weight

Tales from the Borderlands was created and published by Telltale Games. The season pass is available on the PS4 ($24.99), X1 ($24.99), PC ($24.99), PS3 ($24.99) and 360 ($24.99) as of November 25, 2014. The PC copy reviewed was provided for us. If you’d like to see more of Tales from the Borderlands, check out the official site.

 

Here at FFoP we use a rating method that you may be unfamiliar with, so allow us to clarify. When we review a game, we see what sort of BRA fits. Buy, Rent, or Acquire is the rating we give out – we’ve boiled it down for simplicity. A Buy is worth the full retail value; a Rent is something you may want to try before you buy, or grab at a discount; an Acquire is something you can play, but we’d suggest borrowing it from someone, grabbing it in a game bundle, or some other means. If you want further clarification, please feel free to get in touch.

No comments yet

Name (required)
Email(required)