Tales From the Borderlands is an adventure game that follows two different protagonists as their journeys across Pandora intertwine. Rhys is a Hyperion worker trying to escalate the corporate ladder, when the ladder is tipped by a new boss. To get back at him, he travels to Pandora to steal a money transfer from him so he can take all of the glory. Fiona is a con-artist who decided to cheat Rhys’ boss by making a fake vault key and stealing the money. As all stories do, things go wrong, and the adventure only goes on from there.
This whole blog should go without saying that this is a Telltale game. For those who don’t know, Telltale games follow the same game formula, offering episodic content that focuses on the story and has the gameplay primarily consist of quick time events and dialogue choices. This entire blog not only speaks to the good and the bad of this game, but to the good and bad of most, if not all Telltale games. There are certain aspects unique to this game, but when it comes down to the delivery of the content, the things found in this game are pretty much no different to the things found in other Telltale games. All of this is to say that while this blog is about Tales From the Borderlands, this can also be seen in some ways as a Telltale games blog. So, let’s get into it.
It wouldn’t be a Telltale game if it didn’t have a good story, and this game delivers on that. The more I think about the tone and story of the main Borderlands games, the more I find myself disliking it. This game, on the other hand, presents a Pandora I am much more interested in. While it does have some of the wacky elements of the Borderlands universe I am not fond of, I found the story and characters to be much more grounded. The game essentially plays as a Borderlands game but through the lens of normal people, which in and of itself is interesting. But what is more interesting is how the characters grow and develop over the course of their journey, and how you get to have a bit of a say on that development. I love the characters in this game more than all of the main games combined because they feel real compared to the fantastic elements of Pandora. The plot that plays out is also great, as they run around trying to get a vault key just like the rest of them, but find that the company around them is more valuable than loot. I could go on and on about the myriad of story moments I loved, but I think they would all drive the same point home, and I don’t think the best way to experience them is by me saying them. I never thought I would have feelings and emotions over a Borderlands story, but this game doesn’t fail to impress.
I find most games to be on a scale, with gameplay on one end and story on the other. This is a game that is along the very edges of the story side of the scale; because while the story is excellent, I find the gameplay to be less so. The gameplay here is very similar to the gameplay in other Telltale games. Sure, there are a few tiny additions to it like being able to scan areas with Rhys’ eye or saving up money to buy a new outfit, but this isn’t a gameplay-oriented game. There even are a few cool gameplay moments like planning your attack as Fiona or choosing a squad to fight with you; but with hindsight, I realize those moments don’t really affect the game at all. When it comes down to it, the gameplay is still the same dialogue options and quick time events found in many other Telltale games. Because of that, I find myself hitting this strange dilemma with the game that I find myself hitting with other Telltale games as well. I find the game to be too boring gameplay-wise, so I want to experience the story as a show more than a game, but I find I can’t do that either because the game is about making your own choices. As a result, I don’t enjoy playing the game, even though I want to experience it.
One last thing to mention are the animations. This game (and many others, so I have heard) need a new engine, because this game is incredible stiff. The animations don’t look good, there are weird pauses in between scenes, and more. For a game all about story, I find the animations to affect the continuity of the storytelling.
For this section, I decided to go with episode intros, because I think all of them are great. Since this is an episodic game, where episodes released over the course of a year or so, each episode ise re-introduced, kind of like a show. They are kind of like the intros to the main games, which involves a scene happening between the characters while a song plays in the background. The intros in this game are excellent, as for the song selections are great, and each has a different mood to it, which emulates the story development as it happens. Also, the ways they implement the logo and credits into the environment is very cool. I linked a video of the intros right here, but I would recommend experiencing them through playing the game.
In conclusion, I think this is a Telltale game like many others. I find myself avoiding a lot of them because I have played through some of the Walking Dead seasons and I know what those games are like, but I will say I really enjoyed this one. While my complaints about their games are still valid here, I found the story to be incredible, with characters and a plot line that does the miraculous job of making me feel for a Borderlands story. Because of that, I am going to say that the game is worth a buy.