TELLTALE’s latest offering provides a new perspective on Pandora
Tales from the Borderlands - Episode 1
Platform: Xbox One (reviewed) / Playstation 4 / Xbox 360 / Playstation 3 / PS Vita / PC
WHILE Telltale’s reimagination of Game of Thrones is one of the most eagerly awaited titles in the remaining weeks of 2014, the firm lauded for its interactive graphic adventures has quietly released a new IP, this one based not on a television series or graphic novel, but another game - in this case, the Borderlands titles from Gearbox. What follows is an entirely different proposition to what fans of the franchise may be accustomed, but it is a thrilling and thoughtful new take on the same universe.
Introducing a new cast of characters, prior knowledge of the Borderlands games is useful and definitely complements the overall experience, but is by no means useful. Similarly, anyone who has played Telltale’s The Walking Dead or The Wolf Among Us will find familiar mechanics and design elements. Yet this is a title that veers away from the slow, grinding tension that has become a hallmark of Telltale’s narrative in favour of a raucous, action-fuelled spectacle.
The story rattles along at a fair old pace and explores Borderlands lore
Core aspects of the Borderlands game - such as looting and shooting - are represented in a series of thrilling action sequences. These demand speedy reactions of the player, while the curt dialogue exchanges ask for an equally quick response if you are to prosper. The plot - which we won’t spoil - builds on events post Borderlands 2. It rattles along at a fair old pace and will be of extra interest to Borderlands veterans. Some of the characters you encounter are one dimensional but overall the story is appreciative of its source material’s lore and it allows you see Pandora anew.
The game provides a twist on the Telltale formula by allowing you to switch between two protagonists, Rhys and Fiona, and the inaugural episode offers flashes of how this mechanic can inform the story in new and interesting ways. Player choice is always at the heart of Telltale titles and being able to experience the game from different, often conflicting perspectives, lends it depth.
It is to be hoped the rest of the series builds on this episode’s momentum
It is worth remembering that this is first of five episodes and at the moment, can only be judged on its merits. How Telltale build on it and maintain the momentum will be key to its success. The Wolf Among Us started out with a bang but struggled due to a handful of mid-season episodes that flagged and meandered. Such things are not permissible in the world of Borderlands and let’s hope the fun, frantic action is here to stay.
TIPS AND TRICKS:
Make a note of how Rhys and Fiona respond in different ways to events. Understanding their character will no doubt be key as the series progresses.
Dialogue is less common in Tales of the Borderlands than other Telltale games, but it is more important than ever to make the correct decisions quickly.
Don’t expect the usual chaotic shooting gameplay found in the main Borderlands series. The action sequences follow the same template as previous Telltale titles.