Ellen Recommends : Tales From The Borderlands
This is just a quick post as I have been faffing about, this week.
I had something lined up to stay on the unofficial theme of Hallow-Zombie-Spook-Tober but it didn’t *flesh* out as I had planned. It may turn up at some point, though I wanted to have something for all you readers to enjoy, in the meantime.
Over the last couple of days, I started and finished Tales From The Borderlands and I must say it is excellent. Without spoiling anything, it is a breathe of fresh air for Telltale’s “game model” they have established and really utilises the setting of Borderlands.
Unlike previous Telltale entries, you play as a pair of characters, Rhys and Fiona, who are retelling the story through flashbacks. This means that you have an established end point already, but the decisions and choices you make are still relevant though you know that some of them won’t have the impact you might have expected otherwise.
With the Borderlands dressing, the game takes a much more humorous tone than other, recent Telltale games and it hits the ball out of the park. The game takes the whole aesthetic and tone of Borderlands and pairs it with the writing and quality control of Telltale to create a experiential masterpiece. There are considerably less memes and “LOL randum” moments and more witty humour and tasteful nods / references; one in particular I would never have expected, but loved every second of.
This isn’t to say that the game loses any of it’s Telltale emotional storytelling. There are still a handful of scenes to tug at your heartstrings and plenty of puzzles to walk your way through, but the real show-stealer is the dialogue. The new characters are fantastic and all the recurring characters interact seamlessly. If this was your first Borderlands game, you could be forgiven for thinking all of these characters were already established.
I would say that players will benefit from some knowledge of the Borderlands world. Some of the more subtle humour plays off of Borderlands conventions and aesthetics, while plenty of the fourth-wall-breaking humour plays off of Telltale conventions. It is a very well-balanced experience and I think entirely new players could still enjoy it, if not as much as seasoned players of either franchise.
One of my favourite comments about this game was that it plays more like a sitcom, than an episodic drama which Telltale are pushing with The Walking Dead and Game Of Thrones. Rather than shaping your characters through dialogue, you are more often choosing your style of punchline and rejoicing as characters move on and off of screen. And it is so true; it is almost pantomime, by the end. When the bad guys turn up, you hate them, but still love their dialogue and character as they are just as good as the good guys.
Also, the game both looks and sounds great. The cell-shaded aesthetic rocks and works so well with tone of the game and every episode features some licensed music, usually during the title sequence. It always works well and totally sets the scene for the events to follow. Episode 05’s title sequence really got me invested…
That isn’t to say that the unique soundtrack isn’t great, because it is. I was a little disappointed not to see Jesper Kyd pop up in the credits, but I may have missed him.
This is a fantastic entry for Telltale to have under their belt and I heartily recommend it to anyone. You may not enjoy it as much as me, but I assure you, you will enjoy it.
And the big finale… Superb!
Ellie pinched her pictures from Neogaf… I’m sure Neogaf will remember that, yeah? Oh well…
Last played and completed on 27/10/15 for Steam.