I started playing Tales from the Borderlands after I heard on several podcasts and read on a few sites that it was in their game of the year discussions for 2015. I haven’t played a Telltale game yet, other than a quick demo of the original Walking Dead release, which I remember vaguely, but favorably. I also loved Borderlands 1 and 2 and will start playing the Pre-Sequel whenever I get the chance, so the idea of a well done story in the Borderlands universe was intriguing to me. The core games in the series have lacked a deep story to go along with the amazing gameplay.
I kind of knew what to expect going into the game. You watch the story and make choices along the way that change the course of the game to fit your prior decisions. I remember making several decisions in a small slice of the first Walking Dead game that ended up costing characters their lives or making characters hate me. Tales From the Borderlands is definitely more chill than that and goes from a sort of buddy comedy to a hilarious and thrilling heist toward the end.
The choices don’t feel like they have nearly as much weight as they did during the Walking Dead. Only a few characters die along the way, which is a nice change, and I’ll have to play through a second time before I definitively know how much of an impact my decisions had on the story’s progress. Telltale seemed to be poking fun at their system along the way. Where in the Walking Dead, I would cringe when the message of so and so will remember that you let their kid die somehow, Borderlands takes itself much less seriously. Messages would pop up at certain points in the story about a character remembering something, or never forgetting you if you really make an impact on them, but less serious messages showed up a ton to underscore the action. I remember having some unfortunate luck and getting hit in the face a few time by a few characters and a message popping up in the corner adding insult to injury, something about me getting hit in the face so often. Not relevant to the direction the story was going I imagine, but it was a funny touch in the moment.
Where I remember the Walking Dead game being pretty stressful at decision times, Borderlands is nothing like that. Most of the decision moments are light hearted and fun with very limited consequences for your crew. There were quite a few quick time events to accent action scenes and keep players engaged, but I rarely felt that my input was crucial to the story other than adding my own personal accent to scenes.
I’m glad I stuck with it after a long gap between playing the second and third episodes, it was a tremendous experience in the end. Waiting for the whole thing to be out before jumping in was the perfect way for me to experience it, I can see myself losing track in between episodes and dropping out of the story. I can definitely see other players struggling with it as well as I remember hearing people complain about a lack of a set release schedule for the episodes and long gaps in between.
The story ended up great but took a little bit to really sink into me, the time investment was worth it in the end though. The story and characters develop into something amazing and add some desirable depth to the Borderlands universe, which I hope will continue to develop. Even if you aren’t into the Borderlands games, I can see this as a great sci-fi hiest story featuring great characters and a fun way to be introduced to the games. We’ll see who I can get to join me on my next trip through Tales From the Boderlands…