It is a rare feat to laugh from pure joy from a game these days. Usually I find myself laughing after I brutalize an enemy character in Destiny with my shotgun for the third time or when I go on an endless spree of chopping people in half in an Assassin’s Creed game (okay I have a sick sense of humor). Nonetheless, the writing in Tales from the Borderlands Episode 1 & 2 really makes me laugh. Telltale currently has a monopoly on episodic adventure games and their latest release capitalizes and expands on their previous success with games like The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us, and Game of Thrones.
Telltale’s unique brand of storytelling really shines with Tales from the Borderlands. You control two characters, Rhys and Fiona, and perspective shifts between them as they each tell their side of the story. Do not expect to be running around the wide open world the Borderlands series is known for, instead you control them by selecting conversation choices that impact how characters react to you and what happens next in the story. There are also some light exploration pieces that give you more choice in what you look at around the environments and who you talk to, rounded out by some intense quick time events that force you to always have your hands on the controller.
In adventure games like this I can never shake the feeling that my choices have little impact. Most choices are small and only impact a specific characters response. Tales from the Borderlands also introduces some aesthetic choices that impact the look of your characters and their modes of transportation. There are some tough choices that create some great drama as you quickly debate which choice will be better as the timer winds down. It feels great making the choices even if the big choices feel like they have little impact in how the story plays out. Your character will end up at the same place regardless of what you say, like some sort of guiding hand that tries to constantly push the story forward.
In any case this is a mild criticism. The invisible hand is necessary because the story is so good. Of course the characters are all going to end up at the same place, but how are they going to get there? I get to decide! After playing both episodes I want to go back and play again, but make different choices to see how the story changes. The story is clearly the strong point. There are multiple parts when I laughed out loud and couldn’t believe what I was a part of. The characters are instantly relatable and easy to cheer for. And the developers give you great dialogue choices that really make you think about the best way to approach a situation. The action sequences are spaced out well and really mix up the dialogue heavy game. The first episode, Zer0 Sum, had the better action sequences, while the second episode, Atlas Mugged, had more comedy. Did I say the voice acting is great in this game? The voice acting is great in this game!
I do not want to spoil the story here, but I can guarantee that you will laugh if you play this game. Even if you are unfamiliar with the Borderlands lore, the game does a good job at giving hardcore fans small nods while everyone gets the big laughs. If you find yourself worn down by the slog of recent action games for consoles, Tales from the Borderlands will certainly give you a refreshing and fun game. It’s also tough to ignore the price point: $4.99 for the first episode and $14.99 for the remaining 4 episodes if purchased as a season’s pass. As soon as I finished the first episode I knew I needed the season’s pass. The humor, music, story, tension, and even the action sequence make me even more excited for where this story will take us.
CHASE PLEASE READ THIS: One of our editors is in the process of making a graphic for our new rating system.