Tales from the Borderlands: A little more action

December 9, 2014


Borderlands is a quick-moving game. You’re always running around, shooting spider ants in the butt and then hopping into a car and taking it off a ramp. Contrast that to something like The Wolf Among Us, where you are, for the most part, traveling to a location and having a conversation. Telltale is best known, at least lately, for slower-paced games, and Borderlands really doesn’t fit that mold. If you liked Telltale’s Jurassic Park, however, then Tales from the Borderlands will be right up your alley.

The game follows the events of Borderlands 2. Rhys is an employee of the Hyperion Corporation eager to climb the corporate ladder, and Fiona is a Pandoran con-woman looking to make a quick buck. The two paths quickly intersect, neither character gets what they want as the other screws it all up, and finally — together — they discover the beginning of a larger mystery. The story laid out in Episode One is linear, but the characters absolutely sell it.


Troy Baker, Laura Bailey and Patrick Warburton lead a cast that feels right at home on Pandora. I found myself rooting for both sides. When I was controlling Rhys, I wanted his plan to ascend the ranks at Hyperion to succeed, and when I was controlling Fiona, I wanted her scam to work and her family of Dickensian criminals to thrive. Vasquez is, so far, a wonderful antagonist. Patrick Warburton manages to create a lovable slimeball: I hate him, but I love when he’s around.

So Telltale nailed the characters; the setting is pitch-perfect as well. Everything is off just enough to feel organic to the Borderlands universe. Walking the halls of Helios feels right, driving through and being dragged through the Pandoran waste feels right, and the sound made when opening a loot container is just as satisfying in a story-driven game as it is in an action-driven one. Rhys’s Echo Eye and Fiona’s ability to buy her way out a situation both feel like abilities that could be present in one of the mainline titles; the Echo Eye in particular is a great joke delivery mechanism, and it’s clear that Telltale had a good time with it.


All of this is set dressing in a Borderlands game, though. I mentioned that Tales from the Borderlands feels like it was built on Jurassic Park. Why? Because Jurassic Park was much more action-oriented than other Telltale titles. There, you were dodging dinosaurs on a roller coaster, and here you’re controlling a loader. It feels great to customize your loader’s equipment, call it down via moonshot cannon and then direct it, laying waste to the bandit horde surrounding you.

The first episode clocks in at under three hours, but nothing feels rushed. The story told here is a great introduction to the characters, and I’m eager to continue Rhys and Fiona’s adventure. Borderlands seemed, at first glance, to be an odd fit for Telltale’s style of adventure game, but it works. Visiting Elpis was fun in The Pre-Sequel, but it’s nice to come back to Pandora.

Pros: great characters, interesting story, echo eye is an interesting mechanic
Cons: If you only like Borderlands because you can set a guy on fire with your gun, this isn’t for you

Score: 5/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.