Tales from the Borderlands

Score

Pros

  • Slick production and delivery
  • Witty script and great vocal acting
  • Crisp cell-shaded visuals

Cons

  • Interaction beyond action sections feels a touch light
  • Other Telltale Games work better

Key Features

  • Review Price: £15.99

Available for PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC, Mac, Android and iOS (reviewed)
Time

was, the kind of decisions your average video games would throw at you

revolved around pinning down whether it worth jumping for those extra

rings on a risky platform in Sonic the Hedgehog, or which order to take

down the hordes of aliens heading your way in Halo.
 
Games,

however, have changed in recent years and, arguably post Mass Effect,

there’s been a desire by many developers to make the player feel as if

they have a direct bearing on a game’s storyline. It’s a fairly simple

science: if you can make the player feel more engaged in the process of

play, the likelihood of them tapping on your app icon or buying your game again in the future

is fairly high.
 
Some do this more successfully than others, of

course, though leading the pack with an array of titles – most notably

The Walking Dead and the new Game of Thrones game spin-off – has come Telltale Games, now plying its plot-based

trade with Tales from the Borderlands.
 
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Tales from the Borderlands
As you might expect, the

studio’s latest is designed to tie in with the wider Borderlands series,

though this is no FPS-cum-RPG. Instead, what’s on offer is Telltale’s

typical fare of point-and-click meets ‘interactive drama’ – if that

isn’t too loose a phrase. As prescribed,

the bulk of Tales from the Borderlands centres around conversation –

picking one answer from a selection of responses when question are posed

to you.
 
With each reply defined by a timer that hastily runs

down, Tales from the Borderlands encourages you to pick the right

response from your gut, with the premise that every answer you give

could change the course of the game later on. Whether engaging in

conversation or swiping or tapping the screen as directed during

action-based QTE sections, it’s this focus on pace that defines

Telltale’s latest, but is it adding a sheen to gameplay that’s otherwise

found wanting? Arguably, yes.

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Tales from the Borderlands
What Tales of the Borderlands does

better than other games from the same Telltales stable is wit. Right

from the off, there are lines within play that will make you howl. This

first episode in the series – dubbed Zer0 Sum – focuses on space-based

salaryman Rhys as he misses out on promotion thanks to the appointment

of his new boss. In revenge, he decides to try and usurp his superior by

heading down to the nearest planet Pandora to steal a deal from their

clutches.
 
Playing both as the aforementioned Rhys and

co-conspirator Fiona in two different plot lines that, as you might

expect, eventually come together, where Tales of the Borderlands suffers

is the feeling that the game’s story is pretty much set in stone. Case

in point: though responses to questions in conversations tend to include

an angry reply, a conciliatory reply and one that sits somewhere

between the two, often there seems to be very little difference between

any of them, meaning that your success seems only limited by the number

of times you might die during the (somewhat lengthy) action sequences.

Indeed, at some points it’s hard to tell just which response you opted

for based on what follows.
 
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Tales from the Borderlands
Despite the game’s lighter moments

script wise, we felt ourselves breezing through some parts of play more than

in any other Telltale title we’ve taken on, simply because we felt a

little bit like a spectator. Though Tales from the Borderlands is never

anything less than entertaining, it also feels a little half-baked

gameplay wise, and doesn’t really boast the same amount of mystery and

suspense as the The Walking Dead or The Wolf Among Us series.
 
Indeed, it’s perhaps

this association with glories past that does Tales of the Borderlands a

slight disservice: whatever franchise the game in question happens to be

associated with, there’s an undoubted level of expectation that comes

with any Telltale adventure game that, in this case, means players may

feel a touch short changed.

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Tales from the Borderlands
Justifiably or unjustifiably, Tales

of the Borderlands feels like the lesser kin of some great games –

echoing a model that Telltale has mastered in recent years, but perhaps

without giving it the creativity and drive it needs to stand out on it

own.
 
Verdict

Entertaining and delivered with the level of

sheen we’ve come to expect from Telltale adventures, Tales of the

Borderlands offers a more action-focused fiesta than The Walking Dead,

but lacks the focus and originality it needs to look like anything but a

slightly inferior mirror of all the studio has published before.

Score

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