Borderlands has always been a mixed bag for me, with my experience of the first one being forgettable and boring, but the second being exciting and addictive thanks to the local multiplayer nature of the game. Having played through all the DLC on both games, and about to play the pre-sequel one day, I can say I’m a fan of the series, but have never really loved the lore of the world. It’s mechanics are one thing, but the world isn’t really that rich with content due to the disposable nature of the characters that inhabit it. It surprised me to learn that Telltale were making a story based version of the game, mainly due to the fact I knew it would be a comically funny experience, but not one I could imagine lasting 15 hours. With only Episode 1 being available for now, I took the plunge and bought the entire season pass for the game at christmas for only £12, not bad for something that’s going to give me new experiences to come back to throughout the year, but has Borderlands made it through the transition of genre unscathed? Read on to find out.
You start the game out exploring as a chummy person who looks quite like handsome Jack, the protagonist from Borderlands 2, and head of Hyperion industries, a corporation that supplies ammunition and other items to the planet of Pandora. You’ll get knocked out, and upon being dragged, are asked to explain why you’re here by your captor. This starts your story, and finally introduces you to the character you’re going to be playing as throughout the next few episodes: Rhys, a Hyperion employee who is about to become CFO of the company after working his ass off for years. In this introductory sequence, you get to see the inner workings of the Hyperion space craft orbiting the Pandorian moon, which is quite nice to see there’s actually normal people working up there. Upon not receiving your promotion due to an ass killing your boss, you decide to take revenge on him by buying a vault key from the planet, the exact one he wanted. With the reasons for going to pandora sorted, so embarks your adventure of going down to the crazy planet.
Rhys isn’t your only playable character though, so once Rhys finishes his part of the story, you’re introduced to Fiona, a local pandorian citizen her whole life who makes money by scamming people. She has a sister, and a father figure who taught her all the tricks of the trade, and is definitely unlike anything you’ve seen on Pandora before. Playing as Fiona was easily the more interested parts of the game, with new perspectives of the world given to the player, showing that it isn’t all fun and games, and not everyone’s a psychopath, people are trying to make a living, they just get outnumbered by the amount of psychopaths and weirdos you’ll usually encounter.
Both Rhys and Fiona’s story manage to combine, allowing you to get a complete picture of what has happened to the pair of them throughout this episode, and presumably, throughout the others still to come. Overall, it wasn’t the story that got me interested in the game, it was the characters, with Vault hunters like Zer0 having a part in the tail; the original new characters fit in seemingly well in this chaotic world.
Humor is a massive reason why I love the Borderlands series of games, with the first one being bland and normal, and the second one making me piss myself laughing. Thankfully, the tradition of humour continues to reign supreme in Tales from the Borderlands, with many sequences genuinely making me and my friend laugh out loud and stop playing the game at times. One of the best ways Telltale games have done this is through Rhys’ eye, which is able to scan the environment and give more context about the items within it. One of the best examples of this humour and context driven comedy is a museum, which had a gentleman sat in a chair with a sword through him. You can see it below:
It’s this humour that manages to maintain the pace of the game, with Rhys having grandiose ideas of how he’s the hero of the group, and his nerdy friend being too scared to do anything useful. It makes for a dynamic and interesting presence between all of the characters, one that I look forward to subsequent episodes that explores each of their personalities in more detail.
Overall the episode was a brilliant set up for a (hopefully) brilliant series. Everything fit together so lovely that it felt like a complete game in itself, not a part of a series. Decisions didn’t really mean much (unlike most other telltale games); the game was just fun and a treat to play.
So, should you buy Tales from the Borderlands? Whilst the price might be a bit of a stretch for many players on PS4 or PC, where you’ll have to invest in the whole series before you even know if you like the game, the Xbox One version gives you a chance to play just the first episode for £3.99, allowing you to technically try before you buy (albeit you’re buying up front anyway). I thoroughly enjoyed the first episode, and would gladly recommend it to anyone who enjoyed the humour and lore of Borderlands 2. As for if you wasn’t a big fan of Borderlands 2? Well I’m pretty sure you’re bound to find something you like in the game, with the characters and their personalities being the best I’ve seen in a game in a long time.