Telltale Games have made the episodic adventure game series their own in the last few years with The Walking Dead and The Among Us. And they might just have their best yet with Tales From the Borderlands.
The setting comes straight from 2K’s open world shooting-thing – you’re on Pandora, there are vault keys and much murmuring about a fellow called Handsome Jack. And, despite the fact that this is essentially a story-driven adventure title, the feel of that universe comes across wonderfully.
But what really makes this first episode, called Zer0 Sum, special is the writing. That’s been a major plus point for Telltale’s games so far but the difference this time is that its totally hilarious! Telltale has form with funny scripts (Monkey Island and Sam and Max have come before) but they seem to be revelling in telling a less dark story than their recent efforts here.
So you get a top drawer non-linear narrative with a plethora of well written characters and great voice work from the likes of Troy Baker and Patrick Warburton. And they’re given plenty to do in a tale which is basically more of an interactive novel than a game, with very limited puzzles and much more in the way of chin-wagging.
There’s also more than a few morsels of fairly gripping action, including a moment where you call down a loader-bot (Borderlands fans will remember those) and get to decide which weapons it uses to slice and dice your enemies.
The element of choice has always been a vital part of Telltale’s games and there are plenty of branching elements here. Right now, they’re mostly subtle, some even cosmetic but you get the impression that the ramifications will be more far reaching. And it’s totally fun to play Troy Baker’s Rhys as a bit of a dick.
The two playable characters give you different perspectives on the same story and their personal interactions are agreeably bitchy, with the real joy being deciding which direction to take your responses as you play.
The only real issue with Tales from the Borderlands is a technical one – while Telltale’s graphics engine actually handles the stylised characters of this world quite well, there are occasional animation hitches which can detract from the otherwise strong presentation.
But it’s a very minor thing, especially when the rest of the package is so entertaining. Zer0 Sum is a perfect primer for the series, and the sense of humour makes for a refreshing change of pace for the company. Highly recommended, and there are four more episodes to go!