(Note: This review contains spoilers for Borderlands 2.)
Telltale Games is easily one of my favorite game developers, proving the viability of AAA point and click adventure games in a world that had long since left the genre behind. The company spearheaded and successfully proved the viability of monthly episodic games, allowing players to buy the entire season with the added bonus of getting it all on dvd at the end for simply paying the shipping cost.
The idea of an episodic, intelligent, narrative take on the Borderlands universe is one that excited me greatly when it was announced earlier this year. I have a fondness for the Borderlands series, and while the series has progressed quite a bit since the first title, the games have never delved deep into the world in which your vault hunters live. All Borderlands needs to bring out its underbelly is a capable set of hands.
Tales From The Borderlands is set after the events of Borderlands 2. Handsome Jack is dead and the Hyperion Corporation is going through a bit of a power vacuum. Vault Hunters are on the prowl looking for the newly discovered vaults, and Hyperion wants a piece of the pie. The story is told by two narrators. Rhys, a Hyperion employee, finds himself demoted to janitor and heads down to Pandora in an effort to screw over his boss and secure a vault key (and hopefully cement his real promotion). Fiona, a con artist, works on Pandora with her sister and adoptive mentor who absolutely won’t betray them, Felix.
As far as narrators go, you won’t find a pair less reliable than Rhys and Fiona, a factor that the game makes readily apparent from the start. The story shifts between perspectives, often going back and retelling the same story from the other character’s point of view, with both sides regularly contradicting each other. Who is telling the truth? Did Rhys really stand up to that group of psychos or did he wet himself and cry while the machine gun wielding robot did all of the work? That’s up to you to decide.
In their travels, the characters meet a variety of insane locals including my current favorite: Shade. The characters in this version are a lot more tame than their Borderlands counterparts, a more subtle comedy to match the slower pace of the game. As with previous games in Telltale’s lineup, Tales From The Borderlands has more in common with an interactive movie than a full-fledged action title. There are a few actiony moments here and there, mostly fed through quick time events, but anyone familiar with the Telltale Games series knows that these games are all about strong characters, powerful dialogue, and (more recently) giving the player choice to shape their game.
The best part is that the episodic nature allows Telltale to shape future episodes based on features players didn’t like or suggest. I can’t wait for episode 2 of Tales From The Borderlands, not to mention the upcoming Game of Thrones. Check it out on just about any device. Episode one is available now, with new episodes coming in the next few months.