Tales from the Borderlands: What We Think
The most recent installment from Gearbox Software’s Borderlands series is a compelling point-and-click interactive graphic adventure set in the same universe as its award-winning predecessors.
Bearing strikingly similar features and characteristics to Telltale’s other titles like The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us, Tales from the Borderlands immediately follows Borderlands 2‘s plot and contains five continuous thrill-inducing episodes. Unfortunately, for every action there is a reaction, and if you’re not careful, you might kill off your favorite character amid the chaos.
Traversing the Borders
The controls are the arrow keys and your mouse. Paying homage to the other Borderlands titles, you also are given an inventory screen, although in this case it’s purely aesthetic, and a super cool “echo eye” feature that lets you hack into various objects. Both are accessed by the E and Q keys, respectively.
Tales starts in the middle of Pandora with an unpleasant captor convincing both Rhys and Fiona – the two protagonists you’ll be controlling throughout the game – to tell their individual sides of the story. Each episode starts off with a brief stint of a walk-through followed by a fairly epic introduction cinematic.
While the storyline is engaging, the gameplay is often painstakingly slow and sometimes a bit buggy within the movement controls. There is a pathing system, but it’s very unreliable at times.
That being said, each episode throws you right into the futuristic fray with more twists, turns and poorly crafted puns than you could ever dream up. I thoroughly enjoyed the extensive hidden elements to every exploration section. There are many jokes embedded within the NPC chats and witty descriptions to every clickable item, even if it’s not pertinent to the current mission. Point and click everything you can, as exploration is exclusively fueled by your own curiosity. As they say, “Curiosity killed the Hyperion employee.”
Many Many Misfits
Whether you’re playing as Rhys, struggling with your inner cyber demons, or Fiona attempting to con her way out of every situation, there are many different facets that make this tale extensively engaging.
I definitely love how creatively the story is crafted; it’s very much like the typical memory-lane flick, in that you forget whether or not you’re playing in current time, or recollecting past memories for a flashback. The side stories are endless, as each character has their own personality and a list of three choices per dialogue sequence.
My goal was to always take the high road and never burn bridges or cause trouble…except with Jack and Vasquez (CEO of Hyperion.) The way in which you answer questions is key in determining your team’s disposition towards you and will affect other events later on.
For instance in episode one, I had to choose whether or not to let Loaderbot (an assistant Hyperion military robot), self-destruct and when I chose “detonate,” Loaderbot held a strong grudge in each episode following. It wasn’t until we fist-bumped that Loaderbot and I were “chill” again. As you play through the stories, you begin to develop feelings for each character and treat them as you’d treat your friends in the real world. Never neglect your friends.
Pandora’s Music Box
If I were anymore immersed, I would have drowned in happiness. The music selection is brilliant, and so is composer Jared Emerson-Johnson. There were many pivotal moments in the game during which the orchestra did great justice to the unfolding narrative and its setting. Something exclusively unique about the scoring, that I’ve hardly if ever witnessed before, was that – depending on the dialogue choices made – the music would shift slightly to reflect the emotion and mood. To accomplish that accurately is not an easy feat.
Jack’s Chair of Champions
Tales from the Borderlands is almost more fun than its fully-controlled counterparts. There is less stress involved, and the replay value is still there if you want to make the opposite choices. I like to think of it as a cross between a graphic novel and an RPG.
Whether it be a casual discovery stroll through a post-apocalyptic village or frantically clicking an action button to escape the clutches of an enemy, Telltale Games’ Tales from the Borderlands offers much more than your average walk-through comic. Much like the games that came before it, I highly recommend this title and developer.
Watch the trailer for Tales from the Borderlands below: