Originally published on Trevor Trove on January 6, 2016
TL; DR(eview) – Tales from the Borderlands builds upon the best elements of Telltale’s storytelling and the outlandish style and tone of the Borderlands franchise to become my favorite series Telltale has ever produced.
In the flurry of writing up Game of the Year content, I realized that I never got around to writing up formal reviews of the last two games I played in 2015: Tales from the Borderlands and Rise of the Tomb Raider. I touched upon both of them briefly already when they made my Top 5 Games of 2015 but forget to get back and properly summarize my thoughts. So here are my thoughts on the Telltale adventure.
That Borderlands Style
The one-two punch of Tales from the Borderlands and Game of Thrones were the first games in Telltale’s arsenal where I already had a relationship with the franchise (well, I played Back to the Future as well but that was before they really hit their stride with The Walking Dead). And while I felt Game of Thrones didn’t add anything to it’s larger universe and felt mostly like a rehash of the stories George R.R. Martin and HBO told better, Tales from the Borderlands did a great job telling a new story in the world Gearbox has built over their three games (well their two and 2K Australia’s Pre-Sequel).
Easily the funniest game I played in 2015, Tales from the Borderlands nails the humor and tone of the Borderlands universe perfectly. I knew after just the first episode at the end of 2014 that the Vault Hunters were in good hands with the people at Telltale. As each subsequent episode added to the insanity, the grin on my face grew bigger and bigger. Rhys, Fiona, Vaughn, Sasha, Loader-Bot, and Gortys are all worthy additions to the established characters like Claptrap, Moxie, Handsome Jack, Tiny Tina, and Mister Torgue, with pitch-perfect performances to boot.
That Telltale Detail
The team at Telltale also capture the look of the Borderlands games. As a fan of the series, I loved everything from the big musical sequences and character introduction slate to the little moments like the gold light beaming out from a pile of cash or the detail in the menus and screen interfaces. Cameos from the likes of Scooter, Athena, and the rest all felt like proper extensions of the characters from the rest of the series. And whereas Game of Thrones art-style felt a bit too much like a watercolor painting in contrast to the show, the Tales from the Borderlands art design felt at the same time one with the Borderlands aesthetic and like a continuation of the design choices in The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us.
As I stated in my Game of the Year write-up, I really hope we get to spend more time with these characters in Gearbox’s Borderlands 3.