I’ll admit that when I first began Tales from the Borderlands, I was skeptical. While Telltale Games has an almost impeccable track record for games, it was weird seeing one set in the Borderlands universe. Would they be able to capture the essence the world, the characters, and most importantly, the feel of it all? As Episode 5 release, it’s clear that all signs point to yes, and Telltale has possibly made their greatest game yet.
While I don’t want to go into my spoilers for those who haven’t played, we have to at least remember where our heroes were left. After gathering all of the pieces needed to finally summon the Vault of the Traveler, Handsome Jack once again takes over Hyperion. Now, you need to make it off of Hyperion’s space station, survive your meeting with Jack, and make sure you don’t get killed by Vallory. All in all, not in the greatest of places to find yourself.
From a story standpoint, this episode will be sure to please both Borderlands diehard fans, and newcomers to the world. The episode features an almost endless array of emotional responses; you’ll find yourself laughing, giddy with excitement, and on the verge of tears through various points in the game, which only goes to show how talented the writers behind the game are. While I thought that the studio didn’t have enough time to tie up everything they put into the game, they’ve proved me wrong again. Without seeming too rushed, almost every loose end has been tied, leaving you with what is a complete, awesome experience.
As has become a standard for this series, the acting once again needs to be applauded. People like Troy Baker, Chris Hardwick, and Ashley Johnson all lend their voices to what amounts to an all star cast, a group of people who truly make the game go from good to great. For the past four episodes they all hit their mark again and again, and that hasn’t changed for the finale in the slightest.
What stood out to me the most while playing the game, however, and something I have been a bit critical of in Telltale Games’ previous works, is how your choices affect things. Previous games (and other games that feature “choices”) will more often than not push you in the general direction of the ending they desire. Somehow, Telltale has managed to circumvent this with TftB, as nearly everything you do affects the ending…seriously. From what you said, to who you spoke to, to even the amount of money you kept throughout the series all boils down to mattering in some sense. The overall ending will probably end up playing out the same, but the path there is different for all.
No game is perfect, though, and that statement remains true for this one. The game (and most of Telltales titles) suffered from some performance issues. Animations would become buggy and slow at times, and during scenes with lots of movement, frame rate became a pretty major problem. For those who have played previous titles from Telltale, you’ll know that this seems to be a regular occurrence, and while it is annoying, it certainly doesn’t take away anything from the game.
When it’s all said and done, this review might come off as me singing Telltales praises, but it’s because they are just that good. Excellent writing, amazing voiceover work, and a truly memorable story all come together to form another Telltale masterpiece. As I’ve said previously, the team has truly managed to capture everything that makes Borderlands great and somehow still improve upon it. Whatever they have next, make sure your playing.
This review is based on a digital copy of Tales from the Borderlands Episode 5: Vault of the Traveler for the PlayStation 4 provided by Telltale Games.