While the other Telltale Games are based on movies, TVs, and comics, Tales from the Borderlands is quite unique due to the fact that it’s based on an existing game series. With a very strong first episode under their belt, Telltale continue with confidence, using the same split narrative technique of the first game as a superb method of telling a story with unreliable narrators from multiple perspectives.
Those perspectives belong to Rhys and Fiona, and it’s employed very well from the start where – slight spoilers here – only Rhys can see a digitised version of Handsome Jack, and Fiona is left to wonder what the hell is up with him, while dealing with some rather gruesome goings on herself. Flipping to Rhys’ perspective, we see that everything is actually in order, and things are a lot more comedic here, not only due to the inclusion of Jack.
With this being split between two parties, some of the timing doesn’t quite make sense – Rhys’ section is based around the exact same part but feels like it’s over much faster – but the game is excellently paced for the most part, more so than most of Telltale’s efforts. It’s not quite as action-packed as the lengthier first episode, and the middle is a bit of a dud, but there’s a lot to love here, particularly with a scene which is essentially a playable version of those Borderlands intros we know and love.
From there on out, there’s a lot to love about this episode, with Rhys exploring locations that will be familiar to any Borderlands fan and Fiona meeting characters from the series that you’ll know and love. Each of these sections serves up a hefty dose of laugh-out-loud comedy, with Telltale even throwing some digs at their own “meaningful choices”, which actually seem more important than usual here.
Despite that, it takes some of these jokes too far, but it’s never too long before it reels you back in again. It’s a feel-good game, really, and the tone perfectly fits the world, merging more serious antics with slapstick at points, while managing to delve into the lore of Pandora and actually meaningfully contribute to the series, perhaps even more than the mainline games have managed with their own stories.
As ever with a Telltale game, you feel limited with what you can do and where you can go, but you’ve had plenty of time to explore the Borderlands in three fully-fledged games so, while there are plenty of similarities in the necessity of cash and using your inventory, this continues to be a welcome new direction for the series.
The game is one again backed up with a strong voice cast, including the likes of the ubiquitous Troy Baker and Nolan North. Their voices are pretty run-of-the-mill – and familiar, alongside a villain with the voice of a Family Guy character – but do work in the context.
While character animations and faces look great, and much of the indoor environments are like polished versions of those found in other Borderlands titles, the outdoor environments in this episode leave a lot to be desired; they’re flat with jagged shapes in the background, which might distract you from some of the great stuff happening in the foreground.
The first episode of Tales from the Borderlands was excellent, and while the second episode continues to be enjoyable, it’s not quite as good as the debut. Still, there’s some really good comedic moments in here, and the plot starts to feel like it’s going somewhere, with that split narrative once again being put to good use. If you’re a fan of Borderlands, you should be invested in this series, yet even if you aren’t, the characters and quirky world will do enough to draw you in.
Version tested: PC