It’s inevitable that at some point in your gaming journey you have or will experience heartache when a developer of a beloved game goes out of business leaving that game in IP limbo. So, when Telltale closed up shop in 2018, the big question I had was will this wonderful library of narrative point & click / QTE adventure games also disappear? Well, the answer soon became yes and no.
Yes, some like The Walking Dead, Batman, and Tales from the Borderlands had returned to e-shops by their respective IP owners which is awesome. However, many under that Telltale umbrella have not and so the question remained will the owners of these IPs revisit this genre with a new release? Thankfully the answer is YES! With 2k Games New Tales from the Borderlands.
New Tales from the Borderlands is not a direct sequel to the telltale release. However, if you completed the telltale release then you will quickly pick up on these connections early on with a particular character. These are more nods to those returning players who wanted to know a bit more of the aftermath.
New Tales from the Borderlands dishes up a fresh batch of new colorful characters to play as and interact with. The story follows Atlas scientist Anul, her street smarts brother Octavio who hangs out with an assassin bot named L0U13, and short-tempered badass frogurt shop owner Fran.
Throughout the 5 episodes, you alternate control between the 3. It’s a shame that we never get a chance to play as Assassin bot LOU13 as he is almost always present but only to deliver some whimsical self-reflective statement. A series of unfortunate events bring the group together on a mission that will take them vault-hunting and doing battle with Tediore’s new CEO Susan Coldwell.
New Tales from the Borderlands is visually stunning. The locations are beautifully detailed with vibrant colors, lighting, and art design. The character animations particularly the facial animations are bar-none some of the best I’ve seen produced in this art style. This is evident in the credits where the mocap team list appears to go on forever.
The overall art style has the traditional Borderlands theme but the character models are definitely next level. If you played any Borderlands titles then you are well aware of the comedic approach that they have throughout their stories. New Tales from the Borderlands continues with this tradition and at times the jokes or character banter may feel dated, not so much with the content but more with the delivery and response.
On the flip side, the voice acting for all involved including NPCs is fantastic. The conversations between characters are fluid with no awkward pauses or inappropriate high or low dialogue deliveries. This is a key must-have feature to nail for point & click adventures games since they are predominantly narrative-based.
New Tales from the Borderlands does not stick with the gameplay mechanics one would expect. There’s a great mix of gameplay mechanics present outside the QTEs and dialogue menu options. Early on, you will have an encounter with a Tediore soldier who will not let your group advance to the next area unless you defeat him in a match of Vaultlander. This is a mini-game played with figures from Borderlands characters. You will have a handful to choose from and all have different attributes.
As you will see in my clip the battles mix it up with quick movements and different attack options to defeat your foe. If you are victorious, you will now have that figure in your collection, and can be used in the next encounter with this soldier. Tip: If you are ever in a large area and get to free roam with any of the characters do a good job searching every inch of the location since this soldier will be hiding in odd locations and once found will challenge you to a Vaultlander battle with a new figure. You can also find some figures outside of battles. You’ll also engage in a Dance, Dance Revolution, and traditional JRPG mini-games that fit perfectly for the scene.
Adding these sorts of mini-games was fun and served as a constant reminder that we should expect the unexpected. With that said there are 5 different endings. Depending on the choices made and the relationships between characters create these paths. Once an episode is completed, it can be replayed entirely or from a particular chapter so you can always go back and replayed a mission to search for more Vaultlander figures or alter your choices to obtain a new ending. Besides figure hunting, there is plenty of cash that can be found which can spend on new outfits for each of the 3 characters.
New Tales from the Borderlands by no means felt like a rehash and definitely lived up to the “NEW” in the title. Each episode introduced new characters, new fun mini-games, and some at times emotionally heartfelt storytelling. My only complaint is with the lack of interaction with some of the colorful friends the group meets throughout their journey.
At times they would appear in a cut-scene montage but actual interaction with them was limited. And who knows, maybe during my replay in an attempt to unlock the alternate endings will surprise me with more engagement with these characters. New Tales from the Borderlands feels polished and loved by all involved in its creation. I have no doubt this is just the beginning and I’m all in for whatever is next to come.
This review was written based on a digital review copy of New Tales from the Borderlands for Xbox Series X provided by Gearbox Software and 2K Games.