Tales from the Borderlands (Android, iOS, PC, Mac, PS3, PS4, XBox 360, XBox 1, and your toaster.)

It’s come to my attention that this game is pretty graphic and pretty violent. If you don’t dig graphic violence or buckets of gore you might wanna skip this one.

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So far in the Borderlands series we’ve opened one vault per game, the vaults of the Destroyer, the Warrior, and the Watcher. Each of which contained a giant alien monster that earned its title. In each game we’ve played the badasses who’ve shot and blasted their way to open them up. This time around things are a little different. Done are the days of gun toting, level-upping, loot-based vault hunters. Now is the era of speaking, decision making, and high silliness — I mean, you’re playing a con-woman and a pencil-pusher, what did you want from them? You play as both Pandoran native Fiona and Hyperion corporation lap-dog Rhys– con-woman and pencil-pusher respectively– when a struggle to survive turns into a plot to open a vault — you know, because loot. Make choices in this point and click adventure on everyone’s favorite toilet of a planet, Pandora.

History

Talk of a Telltale Borderlands game began after Gearbox and Telltale worked together on Claptrap’s inclusion in Poker Night at the Inventory 2 (Here’s my post for Poker Night 1 if you’re curious). Discussions began as Gearbox designers admitted that the FPS roots of Borderlands prevented them from including elements that wouldn’t mesh with mechanics. These were things that Telltale could capitalize on as well as all of the Borderlands characters who don’t get a spotlight in an FPS game.

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Not to say that this game doesn’t have its share of bloodshed.

Tales From the Borderlands was plagued by release delays. The first episode was released on November 24th 2014, the second episode was released on March 17th of 2015, and the final episode wasn’t released until October 20th 2015 (For reference The Wolf Among Us’ first episode was released on October 11th 2013 and it’s final episode was released on November 4th of 2014). It’s competition on its initial release Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor (PS3 and Xbox 360), Assassin’s Creed: Unity (PC, XBox One, PS4), and Thomas Was Alone (PS4, WiiU, and Xbox One).

Experiences

As another Telltale adventure game you’re sure to feel a pit of indecision grow in your stomach. Playing to character might lead to dire consequences and even the most innocuous of decisions will leave you in tears. The emotional tension reaches a fever pitch with the introduction of Loader Bot — one of the mooks from Borderlands 2 but this one’s got a personality. I’ve never cared about robots more in any game ever. Never have I felt so connected with a being of synthetic thoughts, wires, and circuitry. Made all the more impactful considering the terrible things you can do to him.

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Treat your loader bot well, he’s sworn to protect.

Gameplay

Tales from the Borderlands is like your average Telltale adventure game. You’ll enter into conversations with people, choose your responses — and remember that silence is always an option (unless someone demands information under penalty of death, you should probably answer that person)– walk around areas, and poke things with proverbial sticks. Tales from the Borderlands is unique insofar that you play as…

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…and…

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That’s right, you’re playing as two different characters. Certain chapters and sections are played as certain characters so there’s no switching at will. This can make things complicated because sometimes they don’t have each others’ best interests in mind. They’re both in it for the money, they both want all the rewards, and they’re not exactly on good terms — this game takes place after Borderlands 2, you know, when Hyperion tried to conquer the planet and kill the local populace. You can split them apart, and take sides, as they squabble for what they want or you can unite them and they’ll work together more smoothly.

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And remember, the other characters will remember and react to what you say and do.

The Gush

Fiona and Rhys’ unique mechanics are just plain fun and characters having mechanics is yet to be in a Telltale game. Rhys’ cyber eye allows him to look things up in the Hyperion database for fun jokes and additional information whereas Fiona has the ability to collect and spend money. Although, I will say, Fiona’s cash was a more useful even though I’m not sure how it impacted things — but that’s the nature of Telltale games, you’ll never know what matters.

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Although, I will admit, the scanning function is very entertaining.

The characters in this game are fantastic, as is befitting a Telltale game. One of the NPCs was so deceptive that they legitimately fooled me. Hell, I got fooled a couple of times. Even when the evidence was piling up against people I defended them until they sprung their traps.

Even though it’s an adventure game it feels undeniably like a Borderlands game. Pandora oozes through the content and becomes a character unto itself. Even if you’re not familiar with the setting the game does a great job at getting you familiar with things thanks to Rhys’ fish out-of-water character.

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Expect to see new characters and old favorites.

This game will give you an attack of the feels. Some tragedies and events are unavoidable, others will be all your fault — not that you’ll ever know. So just be ready for a few cheers and more than a few tears.

The Music in this game is on point. Between recycling old tracks, licensing music, and creating their own it invigorates Tales to have its own unique style. It’s definitely Pandora, but it’s no longer the Borderlands you knew.

The Kvetch

This game has a lot of graphical glitches. I can’t tell you how many time characters clip through objects and bizarre, immersion-breaking, events take place. It’s really easy for me to ignore because at no point does it compromise understanding of events but it was a little annoying.

I’m not sure why the characters had such a large inventory. I went through the game without using, and without the opportunity, to use most of my items. I was constantly paranoid about a series of grenades I had picked up 3 episodes ago and they never came into play.

The Verdict

Tales from the Borderlands is available for $25 on its various platforms and I’ve got an interesting relationship with this pricing. When I think of it as the full game for $25 I think, “Well, it’s just a choose your own adventure. I’d say it’s really worth 20 .” But when I think about it as $5 per chapter I think, “I would totally spend $5 per chapter on this silly and fun game,” so… that’s odd. In any event, however you have to justify the value of the purchase I’d say go for it. It’s a super fun game that I had a great time. It’s got replay value out the wazoo if you’re the type to investigate how each decision effects play.

Next Week: Kingdom of Loathing

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