Despite the success of previous series like The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us, there’s no reason to assume Telltale Games are going to hit it out of the park with every adaptation so we approached the new take on Borderlands with some trepidation.
We needn’t have worried.
Now in its second episode, Tales from the Borderlands is another triumph for the adventure game outfit. The first episode – Zer0 Sun – established the world and now it’s time to spend some serious time with the characters in Atlas Mugged.
And this episode is an absolute riot. While it might be one of the shortest slices Telltale has ever crafted (a brisk 90 minutes or so) it’s chock full of zinging dialogue, great performances, a self-aware tone and plenty of world building.
Tales From the Borderlands really distinguishes itself from the rest of the Telltale stable with its humour and this latest episode cements that totally. This is finely-formed episodic comedy, unfolding like a chuckle-worthy mini-series with some fun action-packed diversions and the absolute minimum of actual puzzle solving or even movement.
That’s not to say Atlas Mugged is boring and linear, there are myriad choices in every scene, from how you approach a dialogue tree to which type or ordinance you want to take out an enemy with. Some do nothing other than making you giggle while others have far reaching consequences which might make you giggle in a game or two.
Perhaps inevitably this comedic tone makes everything feel a bit lightweight in Borderlands, and with three more episodes to go it’s still not at all clear when we’re going to get to the meat of the story. These interstitial episodes have always played better in the middle of a marathon session of the whole game so those connections will probably become clear.
That said, it’s a riotously entertaining ride, and sees the mechanical aspects of the series finally mostly ironed out. The graphics hide their simplicity behind a nicely stylised look and the animation and loading issues of the past are mostly behind us. Credit to the Telltale artists for building an entire world out of a handful of scenes, and real kudos on the expressive faces of the characters.
The entire experience is slick and enveloping, and it’s the kind of thing which can be polished off before bed on a weeknight which still gives you a reason to go back to follows those paths you skipped first time. Oh and the Loader Bot is clearly the hero of the entire piece.