by:JONATHAN BROOSKSHIRE/Feature Editor
Telltale Games has done more than just make a new “Borderlands” game. They took the game into a completely different genre, added new characters, mixed in some familiar faces, and continued with what made the franchise so popular.
“Tales from the Borderlands” is not made by the companies 2K Games or Gearbox, the publisher and developer, respectively, of the first three installments of the series. The game is both developed and published by the same company that created the acclaimed titles “The Wolf Among Us,” “Game of Thrones,” and “The Walking Dead.”
“Tales from the Borderlands” is also not a stand-alone game, like its predecessors. This game has gone in the episodic direction, with the purpose of telling a story, courtesy of Telltale Games.
In conjunction with the game being released in episodes, the game has also changed from the normal RPG, first-person-shooter to a point-and-click adventure.
“Tales from the Borderlands” is not aimed at being the permanent change of style in gaming, but rather just a story that begins where “Borderlands 2” left off and most likely where the yet-to-be-announced “Borderlands 3” will begin.
The shift from the first-person shooter to a point-and-click format is a bit strange at first. “Borderlands” is known for its intense gameplay and nonstop action; however, you do become accustomed to the “pointing and clicking” instead of the usual trigger mashing.
Telltale is known for the adaptive gameplay, and this game is no exception. Upon starting the game, the first thing you read is, “This game series adapts to the choices you make. The story is tailored to how you play.”
In this game, you play as two protagonists, Rhys (Troy Baker) and Fiona (Laura Bailey). Rhys and Fiona are new characters in “Borderlands.” The second character that you meet is a character that you will see throughout the entire game, but the character’s name is a mystery.
As of now, there are five installments, but only four have been released. I’m willing to bet we find out who captured our heroes in the end.
When the protagonists are captured, they are forced to tell their side of the story from the beginning, until the point where the mysterious stranger captured them.
Along their journey, Rhys and Fiona come across some familiar faces in the franchise. The first non-playable character (NPC) that you meet is ZerO, a playable character in “Borderlands 2.” After overhearing ZerO in his conversation with Moxxi, another familiar NPC from the franchise, you learn that you’re looking for the same thing, the Gortys Project.
To avoid spoilers, since the fourth episode was just released in August, I won’t describe any plot.
Going back to familiar faces, you come in contact with other NPCs such as Tector (Joel McDonald), Marcus (Bruce DuBose), Scooter (Mikey Neumann), Janey Springs (Catherine Moore), Shade (Brad Jackson), Athena (Lydia Mackay), Brick (Marcus M. Mauldin), Mordecai (Jason Liebrecht), and unexpectedly, the “dead” tyrant, Handsome Jack (Dameon Clarke).
In conjunction with bringing back familiar faces, “Tales from the Borderlands” doesn’t lose its roots. It is still the wisecracking, gory, unpredictable, and “borderline” creepy comedic writing that every “Borderlands” game is known for.
Anthony Burch, the writer of “Borderlands 2,” can take credit for the game being so close to home. Burch also helped write “Tales from the Borderlands,” along with five other writers.
“Tales from the Borderlands” is no doubt a change of pace for the franchise. But it is also a clever way of pushing the intriguing story of the doomed planet and its relentless heroes.
The decision making in the game makes you feel in control. However, in some parts, no matter what dialogue you pick, the story pushes you along a different path by one of the other protagonists saying something like, “What a steaming load of [expletive].” It is comedic and lets the story end the way the writers intended, but it leaves a bit of a bitter taste in your mouth.
I love the art in this game. Telltale Games makes their games cartoonish, like a comic book. This style of art fits right in with the franchise, which is also comic-book like.
Along with the art of the game, the actual gameplay is enjoyable and, at times, riveting.
There are action sequences where you swipe your finger to dodge bullets or psychos on motorcycles. When you have to make a decision, you only have a fixed amount of time. When your life is in danger, you get less time to react. This makes for a hair-raising experience. You want to make the right decision and weigh the options thoroughly, but you’re forced to make one before the timer runs out.
Lastly, an interesting part of the game takes place at the end of each episode. The game reveals key choices in the episode, and the decision you made, as well as a percentage of what other gamers chose.
I was initially inclined to play the game because I love the franchise, own the first three games, and the DLCs (downloadable content) for each.
After learning that the game wasn’t a first-person shooter, I was a bit skeptical of it. I didn’t know if I was going to like it. But after delving into the story, learning about the new characters, and adapting to the style of gameplay, I walked away from the game feeling more than pleased.
I can’t wait for the last episode to be released to see how it ends. And I definitely can’t wait to see how 2K and Gearbox tie this twisted story into the highly anticipated “Borderlands 3.”
I give this game a solid 4 out of 5.