The Best Borderlands (Spin-Off) Yet (Tales From The Borderlands Review)

Nov 2, 2015

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A common thought had about “Tales From The Borderlands” is this is the first entry in the series that actually makes the player care for the characters they portray. The Borderlands series has never been known for its story, more so its gameplay focus on looting loads of varying weapons. It accomplishes the latter. As for the former, well, it’s a barren wasteland, save for maybe Handsome Jack, but thank Dameon Clarke for his performance. No need to go any further than that on the series up to this point because we’re here to discuss Tell Tale Games’ take on Pandora, Helios and Borderlands overall.

Fiona (Laura Bailey) and Rhys (Troy Baker) are both the player's doppelganger for the first time in a Tell Tale game.

Fiona (Laura Bailey) and Rhys (Troy Baker) are both the player’s doppelganger for the first time in a Tell Tale game.

A reservation before sitting down and loading Tales for the first time, for those of us again who didn’t care about Borderlands to this point, were wait isn’t this the series known for loot, more loot, crazy gun iterations and almost nonexistent¬†narrative/character arcs. All of the above is subject to individual perception but what Tales and Borderlands had on its side was Tell Tale’s “particular set of skills,” which has separated it from all other developers. It has game industry capable of taking a known property and astonishing skeptics with its writing. It has done it and gained fame through its two “The Walking Dead” seasons, especially the first. Followed by the brilliant “The Wolf Among Us.” In recent, it seems to have lost its way a bit with “Game of Thrones” and “Minecraft: Story Mode” due to these series already having a rabid following and accumen. Not that Fables or Borderlands doesn’t have the same problem. There’s a high and specific expectation with those IPs.¬†Tales felt as if it already had room to fudge with it a bit because of its already nonsensical setting.

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Whatever concerns players may have will likely be wiped clean almost immediately because Tales will make the player laugh, think, choke-up and have an absolute blast in this joyride of a game. The first three episodes were awesome and ridiculous fun while the penultamate episode tripped up a bit in its gameplay and the story became convoluted for some reason. Thankfully its finale makes up for episode four, albeit slightly on the fast paced side, with a satisfying ending, including a refreshing introduction of new QTE mechanics that are nostalgic and laugh-out-loud, knee-slapping funny.

It says a lot about a developer, Tell Tale in this case, when a game that had nothing but a bare-bones story before in its past installments all of sudden creates player-character development. That’s a special and unique talent the writers over at Tell Tale deserve a lot of credit for. It also doesn’t hurt to have a heckuva voice cast with the likes of Baker, Bailey, Chris Hardwick, Patrick Warburton, Nolan North and Clarke.

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Besides that, the game is visually instantly recognizable as Tell Tale and Borderlands, along with the technical hiccups and glitches normally seen from the former. QTEs and dialogue choices don’t come with enough purpose to them until the final episode, which makes up almost all of it. Whatever, 2K better thank Tell Tale for servicing established Borderlands fans, reeling in new ones and gift-wrapping a Borderlands 3 story-line to go off of, if it so wishes. The ending begs for more. Bring on a season two, please. If not, it was quite an unexpected joyride.

Wrinkle

It can’t go unsaid, the music used throughout this series was outstanding. Enjoy…

Episode 1

Episode 2

Episode 3

Episode 4

Episode 5

Series End Credits

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