- + Superb writing
- + Learning about Pandora, post-Handsome Jack
- + The chemistry between Rhys and Fiona is fun to watch
- - Less loading screens would help provider a more seamless experience
Want to look beyond the score? Read the full written review…
*Spoilers for Episode One are discussed throughout this review
I’m a huge fan of Borderlands, and when I heard that Telltale were going to develop their own episodic adventure within its universe, I couldn’t wait to see what was in store. As you’d expect, Tales from the Borderlands takes its cue from many other Telltale titles; served in five slices, it’s up to you how the story unfolds. With a plethora of different directions available in each conversation, there’re countless outcomes depending on what you say or do.
Taking place shortly after Handsome Jack’s death in Borderlands 2, you fill in the role of a Hyperion employee named Rhys. In episode one’s opening moments, Rhys ends up being in the hands of a bandit, recounting the events that led him to where he is now. Throughout the episode and, I suspect, the rest of the series, the perspective shifts between the past and present.
Alongside his colleague, Vaughn, you had hoped to get promoted into Hyperion’s higher ranks. Unfortunately things didn’t go down the way you planned, and a slimy weasel by the name of Hugo Vasquez took the job instead. After a small confrontation on the subject, Rhys manages to overhear a conversation Hugo has about purchasing a Vault Key. Making use of his advanced augmentations to hack Hugo’s computer, Rhys takes the information he needs and sets off to steal the deal instead.
With Vaughan in tow and carrying $10,000,000, they arrive through an orbital drop onto Pandora, making use of Vasquez’s new car and riding into the wastelands in search of the dealer selling the key. It doesn’t take long until they hit trouble, and as soon as they arrive at the nearest town they’re surrounded by bandits looking to take their shiny Hyperon case of money. It isn’t just the dialogue that plays an important part, even Borderlands’ fame for weaponry gets its time in the sun.
Surrounded by enemies and without hope, luckily a Loading bot arrives and you get to choose which guns/explosive you want to arm it with. By using the right analogue stick to move the on-screen cursor, you then get given the chance to pick who you want to target first. It was nice to see how Telltale managed to mix in gunplay into its tight narrative-driven gameplay. After all, Borderlands would be nothing without gunshots and explosions.
In next to no time you’re face-to-face with the dealer, who goes by the name of August, and you attempt to take over Hugo’s lucrative deal. The rest of the episode doesn’t quite go as planned, and along with the introduction of a girl named Fiona, you’re given control of both story threads and how they interweave with one another. As always, Telltale’s expertise for superb script writing shines throughout. Complete with plenty of plots twists and revelations, there’s a huge amount of wit and charm shown in the characters you meet. It’s also full to the brim with humour.
By the end of episode one, Rhys, Vaughan and his new companions, Sasha and Fiona, stumble across an old Atlas storage room. Filled with numerous artefacts, before it reaches its conclusion the gang discover the location of a Vault on Pandora, and just as things wrap up, a seemingly lively hologram of Handsome Jack pops up. I’m not sure whether this was some type of trickery, as seen with Superman’s father returning from the dead in Man of Steel, but Jack seemed pretty spritely. I suspect we’ll have to wait for episode two until we know how ‘alive’ he really his.
I’m impressed. Telltale have taken the Borderland’s license and built upon its rich history. Introducing a funny script complete with interesting characters, Zer0 Sum is a great start to a potentially terrific series.
Episode one of ‘Tales from the Borderlands’ is available to purchase for £3.99, whereas you can purchase the season pass for all five episodes at just £11.99
*Zer0 Sum was provided to Start Replay by Microsoft