|System: PS4, Xbox One, PC|
|Dev: TellTale Games|
|Pub: TellTale Games|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Angelo M. D'Argenio
Game of show. Calling it right now. Stop everything. Stop caring about your Zombie Shoot Fest 7s or your Fight Man Epic Quest 12s. Tales from the Borderlands is one of the most awesome games that I have seen so far.
What is Tales from the Borderlands? It’s a Telltale game with a little bit more game in it. It takes place in the world of Borderlands after the events of Borderlands 2. Handsome Jack is dead and everyone is in utter chaos. The company has been taken over (in the last 20 minutes) by a massive pile of hair-gel and douche called Vasquez. It’s up to you, as Rhys, the competent Hyperion business man, to take him down a peg by sniping a deal for a recently discovered vault key.
And… you know… that would all be simple if this wasn’t Pandora we were talking about. Within minutes of touching down to the planet, Rhys encounters a gang of bandits, and that’s when you realize that this isn’t your standard Telltale game. Fighting isn’t only a series of quicktime events. There were some honest to goodness shooter style sequences here, and they looked awesome. Rhys fights by calling down a Hyperion loader bot to do his bidding. Before the battle, you actually get to equip the loadout with gear, as if you were equipping an actual Borderlands character. This will determine what he can do in battle, and will affect the outcome of any confrontation.
Another interesting game mechanic is Rhys’s mechanical eye and arm. Using his eye will allow him to hack into other computers and scan his surroundings. It’s a little bit like Metroid Prime, but with a lot more ruthless murder and toilet humor. Using the eye can get your information, which can then change the dialogue options that you have available to you in later conversations.
In addition, Tales from the Borderlands introduces loot into the game, which is bizarre for a Telltale game but easily part of the Borderlands universe. Throughout the game you will be able to find loot chests that contain cash and loot, just like you could in Borderlands 2. Cash will allow you to purchase equipment which might help you out in later confrontations (or conversations) and simply having it in your pocket will change the way the story ends up. Loot on the other hand is a little bit more complicated. Telltale wasn’t willing to go into detail about how the loot system works, but apparently it will have connectivity with another Borderlands game.
The whole game is dripping with Borderlands charm. The game opens with a narration by Marcus, telling you once again another story of the world of Pandora. Borderlands 2 characters, like Zero, show up at times and at many points provide obstacles for you to get around. At one point you get to walk through a museum showing off stuffed bullymongs, skags, rakks and even other Borderlands 2 characters like Professor Nakayama, Bewm and Shade. There are plenty of references to other games, such as graffiti on a billboard of Max from Sam and Max. Heck, there was even a small nod to Mortal Kombat in the demo we were shown, as one of Rhys’s options in combat was to rip out a man’s still beating heart.
Of course, all of Tales from the Borderlands is a Big Fish story. Everyone who is telling the story here is lying. If you choose to tear out your opponent’s heart, then the narrative immediately stops with Fiona, a grafter and your other main character, denying your claim. It’s a shame because watching Rhys pull out a man’s heart was pretty awesome. Fiona then starts talking about her side of the story, which may or may not involve “the vault hunter” which may or may not be one of your actual characters that you actually played in Borderlands 2. The cross connectivity here is astounding!
Also the aesthetics of the game are simply awesome. The whole game looks like Borderlands 2. Characters and locations are completely recognizable from the get go. Even Hyperion’s station and the loader bot look exactly like they did in the game. Rhys’s dialogue options are outlined in the familiar cold blue boxes of a Borderlands 2 menu, while Fiona’s are simultaneously wispy and flowery with a grungy style of the residents of Pandora. Everything comes together for one immersive experience, which is only made better by the game being honestly and genuinely funny.
I have long since said that Telltale was a master of game narrative, but the biggest issue with all of their games is that there just wasn’t enough “game” there. Well they have heard you, and they have delivered. Tales from the Borderlands has all the Telltale narrative that we love with gameplay that will satisfy a die-hard Borderlands fanatic. It’s everything we wanted from the studio and the Borderlands franchise, and then some. Like I said, game of the show.
Angelo M. D'Argenio
Date: June 11, 2014