Telltales Games hardly ever disappoints with their games nowadays. The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us, and even the Game of Thrones series have some of the best storytelling in games right now. That’s why when I say that Tales from the Borderlands may be the company’s best game yet, it’s meant as the high praise it should be.
Atlas Mugged, the series’ second episode, pushes you further into the mayhem and chaos that is Pandora. Armed with the key to a possible Vault, Rhys and his crew must venture to an abandoned Atlas military facility. After another beautifully crafted intro sequence (let’s hope these continue for episodes 3 through 5), the game promptly splits up everyone. Most of the episode has you trying to regroup and get back to the mission at hand, which allows you to delve further into who these characters are. Fiona and Sasha get to explore more of their childhood and deal with Felix, while Rhys and (the surprisingly “yolked”) Vaughn confront some not so welcome faces and bro out.
Atlas Mugged features a lot more action than its predecessor. Rhys can now hack items with his Echo Eye courtesy of Handsome Jack, which adds a couple of neat interactions. Fiona is still her sassy, cunning self, and the game expands on its money saving system that was introduced in Episode 1.
However, as is with almost all of Telltale’s work, the dialogue is what shines through. The characters feel almost like they were unscripted; as if they were just chit chatting back and forth. Added to this amazing dialogue is Handsome Jack, who is much more involved in Atlas Mugged than he was in Zer0 Sum, and every bit as insane and charismatic as he is in Borderlands 2. Dameon Clarke turns in a brillaint performance as everyone’s favorite villain, as his back and forth with Rhys (who is the only one that can see him) is witty and at most times, hilarious.
While it’s nice to have some familiar faces guide us through our journey of Pandora, Jack’s isn’t the only one we see. Atlas Mugged brings back a bunch of Borderlands regulars. Scooter, the mechanic that appears in most every Borderlands game, shows his face for Tales, helping out Fiona and Sasha in their time of need (and also getting in some funny dialogue of his own). People who have played Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel and some of Borderlands 2‘s DLC will also remember Athena, the Crimson Lance assassin. It seems like she’s taken it upon herself to claim the bounty for Fiona and Sasha, which comes to a head (for now) in a frenzied button mashing chase scene.
Telltale Games does an amazing job at taking themes and ideas from the Borderlands world and incorporating them with their take on the game. It’s tough to bring an FPS, run n’ gun (n’ loot) game into a world that’s based heavily on dialogue, story, and character development, but they manage to do so incredibly. Instead of just exploring areas for the sake of exploring, you can pilfer goods from people as Fiona, con people into getting what you want, or still just explore for exploration sake.
Tales from the Borderlands seems to follow in the footsteps of other Telltale games in that the ending is masterfully crafted and will leave you wanting more instantly. Depending on what choices you make, you’re either left with a huge sense of satisfaction or a strong urge to scream “WHAT THE HELL!?” at your television. No matter what group you belong to, you are definitely not going to be disappointed at what happens, and if you’re like me, you can’t wait for Episode 3 to drop.
As I said earlier in this review, Tales has the ability to become the best game Telltale has put out when all is said and done. The blend of comedy, story telling, and action are all great and barely miss on their intended cues. By the time all five episodes are out, it might be hard to argue for this game to not overtake The Walking Dead as it’s must play series.
This review is based on a digital copy of Tales from the Borderlands for the PlayStation 4 provided by Telltale Games.