Tales from the Borderlands (2014)


I've never been a huge fan of the original Borderlands. While I've always liked how the game looks and the humour of it seem to be fitting in my sense of humour, the gameplay with its endlessly spawning monsters just didn't grab me more than it just frustrated me. So that in mind, I did grab the
Telltale adventure game from a sale when I saw it, as despite not all Telltale stuff is gold, they do know how to weave interesting interactive stories. And what they've managed to do with Borderlands works. While I'm sure I've missed more than a few nods to the original FPS games, Tales from the Borderlands is a game that works all on its own.

If you've played any of the previous Telltale games, like the Walking Dead (a game I liked despite not liking the TV-series nor the comic) or Wolf Among Us, you'll know what to expect: an interactive tale where the gameplay mostly consists of pressing the right buttons at the right time, sometimes walking around in limited areas, sometimes choosing a bit of dialogue or just plain quick time events. As such, they aren't something I'd call remarkable games, but where they do shine is the way they open up the interactive stories. I'd say they are something those dreadful FMV (well okay, not all of them are bad, there are some gems there) games from the 90's tried to do.

As most of the Telltale games, Borderlands is an episodic release, with 5, released episodes, ranging from 1,5 hours to 2 in length, depending on your playstyle. You control two characters, Rhys and Fiona, a Hyperion corporate man and a con artist, who end up looking for the Vault of a Traveller, a place filled with untold treasures. This adventure sprawls all over the planet Pandora, while the would-be vault hunters and their friends leave a trail of death and destruction in their wake, just like it's customary in the rough world they live in.
Heroes, Rhys and Fiona on the middle, Vaughn, Rhys's friend on the right and Sasha, Fiona's sister, on the right.

With Borderlands and a couple of their previous titles, Telltale has found a good format on how to tackle these kinds of shorter, episodic games in a pretty good fashion. They don't offer that huge amount of gameplay and the choice and consequence system they use is often mostly cosmetic more  than truly game shattering, but they do what they're meant for: offer a set of variable the player can set while watching the interactive story open up.

That all said, I also can't recommend them if you expect a really good deal of freedom in your games. The gameplay itself is often relatively slim and in the end, a lot of the enjoyment you get from these hangs on the fact if you enjoy the story and the characters as if you don't, well, you most likely won't like the game either. It's not like they're something you can play purely to enjoy the game mechanics.

If you do, however, like the narrative, then Borderlands is a pretty good choice. The episodes are short enough to be enjoyed even if you don't have that much time to spend nor aren't one of those players who demand a huge amount of challenge from all of their games. You don't even have to know that much, or not at all, about the original Borderlands, so if you're up to it, Tale from the Borderlands is a pretty good choice.

Pandora, a place where friends meet.
You can grab your copy from GOG or Steam, or some other platforms, like consoles. Whatever rocks your boat.

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