Tales From The Borderlands Retro Game Review
Tales From The Borderlands is an episodic interactive comedy graphic adventure sci-fi video game based on the Borderlands series.
Despite only having three games released to date, Borderlands has still managed to craft a world full of colourful characters and interesting locations despite the first person shooter gameplay, which many would wrongfully see as an excuse for storylines and plotting almost as disposable as the waves of foes your battling through. It of course equally makes it the perfect sandbox for Telltale Games to craft out their own tale using their now trademark style of episodic and choice driven gameplay.
Tales From The Borderlands follows Rhys, a Hyperion employee with designs on being promoted to the higher ranks of the company only to find himself double crossed along with best friend Vaughn by his new boss and rival Hugo Vasquez. Now teaming up with con artist Fiona and her sister Sasha the game follows this rag tag team as they go in search for one of the hidden vaults on Pandora along the way having to battle through, psycho’s, crime bosses and rival vault hunters … ohh and did we mention that Rhy is also being tormented inside his head by the cunning Handsome Jack.
Surprisingly, the transition from first-person shooter to the Telltale style of gameplay is a smooth one and one which even more surprisingly, didn’t lose any of the action of the original games as it seemed to constantly manage to find a way to surprise the player with each new challenge it throws at you from taking part in a Mad Max style death race through to the much discussed finger gun shootout which might just be one of the best set pieces we have seen from Telltale to date.
Plot wise the story moves across its five episodes at a quick pace with the story being told through flashback as we find out how Rhys and Fiona ended up being marched through the desert by a mysterious stranger. Unlike other stories we have seen from Telltale here the plotting actually feels really fresh while perfectly capturing the humour of the Borderlands games while retaining many of the series trademarks such are flashing up with name cards when a key character is introduced. At the same time the characters of Rhys and Fiona are so well written it’s actually fun to follow them on this journey, with each member of their rag-tag group being given their moment to shine which only helps further the connection we feel with them.
At the same time the consequences of our choices actually feel like they affect the story, which has frequently been an issue for Telltale, were the choices felt largely irrelevant to how the story played out. Here though choices actually feel they carry some weight, especially in the connections you have with other characters such as Loader-Bot or if Rhys trusts the help being offered by Handsome Jack or if he sides with Fiona. Further to this there is the throughout the game options to purchase new outfits or vehicle upgrades which while more of a cosmetic aspect still feels like your more involved in the story than recent Telltale items which had suffered from feeling like the experience was on rails than the interactive storytelling being sold to the player.
While Telltale and action might not seem like the most cohesive especially after the hit and miss action mechanics of Batman, here they actually manage to nail the formula so that it works within this world with the game using a mixture of dialogue choices and quick time events to play out its big set pieces.
A surprising return to form for Telltale Games whose releases had been suffering from a sense of over familiarity but here we have an adventure which is not only both exciting and hilarious in turns but also manages to feel fresh in its approach to adapting the source material, even throwing in a few surprises along the way which only makes us more the keen for a part 2.