Video Game Review: Tales from the Borderlands

Details: Released in 2014 for the PC. Purchased the game for $6.24 through Steam. Took about twelve hours to beat.

Tales from the Borderlands is a game from Telltale Studios that takes place on the world of the Borderlands franchise. I’ve played other Telltale games before, but this one was by far the best one I’ve yet to play.

Tales from the Borderlands takes place after Borderlands 2. The story centers on two characters: Rhys and Fiona. Rhys, an employee of the evil Hyperion Corporation who dreams of climbing the Hyperion corporate ladder. In order to do so, Rhys must travel to the apocalyptic world of Pandora and obtain a vault key, an item that can open a mystical vault which will likely have priceless treasure. Fiona is a con artist who lives on Pandora and gets mixed up with Rhys.

If you’re unfamiliar with Telltale games, they are usually episodic and can be divided by seasons. Like almost all Telltale games, Tales from the Borderlands takes place over five episodes where each episode generally takes about two hours to complete.

Gameplay — if you can call it “gameplay” consists of quick-time events where you must push buttons at a certain time and simple puzzles. These elements are generally pretty bad.

The main draw of a Telltale game and adventure games in general is the story. Telltale Studios’ most popular games allow players to make meaningful decisions that have an impact to the story. There are branching plot lines which change depending on the dialogue choice players make. Make a wrong choice, and someone may die. Make the right choice and some one may still die.

With that said, there are many plot points that cannot be altered. Most of the most important plot points cannot be changed. Further, this game follows the unfortunately predictable route of encouraging players to help as many characters as they can and to save as many characters as they can as doing so yields greater rewards and developments in the plot. This is especially true in the final part of the last episode. It would have been nicer and added more to the unpredictability of the story if helping people more often than not yielded bad results and vice versa. I feel like the choices in Witcher 3 were better in this regard.

Visually, the game is fine. The Borderlands franchise’s visual style already used a technically light visual style so it wasn’t hard for Telltale to adapt their outdated game engine and art style for this game. The music is noteworthy not just because it was well done, but there were many songs with vocals used in the game. It’s rare to hear that as music with vocals generally cost more than songs without.

Also worth mentioning is the voice talent. There are a lot of well known voice actors and nerd culture personalities in this game and, as a result, the performances are great and really help immerse you into the story.

Overall, I enjoyed the game, by which I mean I enjoyed the story. There is very little game to play with most of the “gameplay” consisting of dialogue choices. Even so, I enjoyed Tales from the Borderlands and recommend anyone in the mood for a passive gaming experience play this game.

Score: 7.5/10

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