Tales From The Borderlands Review
Publisher: Telltale Games
Developer: Telltale Games
Release Date: 26th November 2014
Available on: Digital Only
Price £3.99/$4.99 per episode (£19.99/$24.99 for the season pass)
Tales From The Borderlands wasn’t really a game that I was overly looking forward too; I’d never spent any time playing a Borderlands game and knew absolutely nothing about the series. After spending time working my way through all 5 episodes for the second time (I originally played all 5 episodes on the Xbox 360) I can wholeheartedly recommend it, as this may just be the best release from Telltale yet.
Those who have played a Telltale game before will be very familiar with how this game plays, as it sticks to their tried and tested formula. It’s a simple mix of puzzle solving and point & click adventure, which makes it easy to enjoy the various worlds and characters that you encounter throughout your 10-12 hours of playtime. The story follows Rhys, whose story begins with him being screwed over by his Hyperion boss, and Fiona, a professional con-woman looking to rip-off a target and score a massive payoff. Both are forced to recall the series of events that caused them to cross paths, which acts as a great way to introduce the various characters and build up a decent story you can really enjoy. Throughout the episodes there are points in which you will have to make decisions that potentially impact the rest of your playthrough. Unlike other Telltale games these actually had some sort of impact behind them, making the wrong choice can make certain characters not want to interact with you when it comes to the climactic scenes in the later episodes, which isn’t a massive issue, but it’s still interesting to know that your decisions now have noticeable consequences.
Movement around the world is simple, left stick moves you around, while the right stick allows you to interact with various points of interest with a single click of a button. You can pick various objects, but these didn’t really have any use that I could find, which is a shame, I’d have liked outfit changes to maybe make the people in the world of Pandora interact with you differently, or for them to at least have some use. You’ll often come across quick-time events that usually involve some button bashing, quick directional inputs, or aiming the cursor on a certain pickup. The storytelling in this game is great, unlike the other Telltale games this is very humorous, I like the less depressing, more upbeat feel of the game; it made it an absolute pleasure to play, even for somebody who spent only 1-2 hours on the original Borderlands game. There are unfortunately a few issues that make this game not 100% perfect, as is traditional with Telltale games there are some stuttering issues when an interactive section is loading, although these aren’t quite as bad as they have been on their earlier releases. The audio sometimes clashes so you have 2 characters talking over each other, so without subtitles it can occasionally be difficult to hear all of the dialogue. Also I did notice occasionally on the quick-time sections it would fail to register my input, although the checkpoints in this game are very generous so any fail only takes a minute or so to get back up to speed.
The graphics in this game are very much in line with the Borderlands franchise art style, it looks great, with bold vibrant colours; the real star of the show however is the superb audio. The voice work in this game is a particular highlight; you have voiceover heavyweights like Troy Baker and Laura Bailey, as well as returning members from the previous Borderlands games. There are various members of The Walking Dead & The Wolf Among Us games in here too; my favourite though was Vasquez, who is played by Patrick Warburton (A.K.A Joe Swanson from family Guy). The licensed soundtrack for each episode also really stands out too, I absolutely fell in love with the song used in Episode 5 by James Blake, and replayed the section it features 4-5 times just to hear it again.
With the exception of the Back To The Future game that Telltale released way back in 2011, Telltale games have also become well known for their super easy achievement lists, and Tales From The Borderlands is no exception. To get the full 1000 Gamerscore you simply have to play through all 5 episodes, there are 7 achievements and 200 gamerscore for each section, there is nothing miscible, simply playthrough, enjoy the wonderful story, and 1000 Gamerscore will be yours in 10-12 hours.
As much as I enjoyed the previous releases from Telltale, I had noticed that they were getting a little stale, fortunately Tales From The Borderlands has been a welcome breath of fresh air. With fast paced action, great humour and some standout scenes (one in particular involved a massive shootout with enemies using finger guns) this is an essential purchase, and comes close to Life Is Strange in being one of my favourite games of 2015. I hope that Telltale decide to build on this franchise as I would love to see what happens to Rhys, Fiona, Gortys and the gang in their adventures on Pandora.