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Tales from the Borderlands: Episode 3 - Catch a Ride
Score: 100%
Publisher: Telltale Games
Developer: Telltale Games
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Adventure


Introduction:

I feel like a fair weather fan when it comes to Telltale. Point and click adventures were definitely a staple of my gaming generation, but I only occasionally found myself drawn to them. So my experience with games like The Secret of Monkey Island and Full Throttle were, shall we say, minimal. My gateway into this very specific type of interactive storytelling was, as it was for countless others, The Walking Dead. Given that it was seen as something of a renaissance title for Telltale, every other project theyíve headed since then has followed the same general template. And Iíve enjoyed them all, from The Wolf Among Us to Game of Thrones. But as of this writing, I can say with no hesitation that Tales from the Borderlands is Telltaleís strongest series to date Ė and Iím speaking in terms of absolutely everything. And Episode 3 - Catch a Ride is the not only the best chapter to date, itís a watershed moment for interactive storytelling. If the structure of Catch a Ride is any indication, we are seeing the next stage in the evolution of Telltaleís choice-and-consequence framework.

Crossroads:

At the end of Tales from the Borderlands: Episode 2 Ė Atlas Mugged, you made a choice. It was obviously a big choice, but at the time, you might not have known exactly how much of an effect that choice was going to make. As Episode 3 Ė Catch a Ride opens, you quickly realize exactly how important that choice was. Simply put, Catch a Ride is almost literally two episodes in one, and the one you experience is completely dependent on that final choice. This is a huge move on Telltaleís part; while certain outcomes are guaranteed across all episodes of all of their games, itís a very bold move that helps progress the formula from a few branching paths into a labyrinthine maze.

The setting for Catch a Ride is constant, regardless of that choice; and itís a good thing, too. Though the first act has Rhys, Fiona, Vaughn, Sasha, and Loader Bot making a grand escape from the besieged Atlas compound, most of the rest of the episode takes place in a stunningly beautiful biodome, which is filled with all sorts of Pandoran flora and fauna. It has a very ethereal feel to it, and it is only complemented by the numerous eldritch horrors that lie within.


And Then There Were Six:

If thereís one thing Tales from the Borderlands nails (and really, it nails almost everything), itís characters and relationships. Telltale is more than a proven commodity when it comes to smart dialogue and excellent character dynamics, and while I donít think anyone is going to forget Lee and Clementine anytime soon, the ever-expanding cast of Tales from the Borderlands is truly a delight to spend time with. Not only that, but the chemistry between the leads is positively magnetic. The heroesí gallery is upped to six this time, as series mainstay assassin Athena joins the crew and gets a serious amount of fleshing out. And we get a new villain thrown in for good measure: Vallory, the "Queenpin" and also the mother of that jerk August. She's bad news, obviously.

But the standout newcomer is easily Gortys, the MacGuffin that you spent the previous two episodes chasing down. While much about this top secret Atlas project remains a mystery even after the credits roll, this much is easy to figure out: sheís easily one of the most adorable robot characters ever conceived. Iíd put her up there with WALL-E and Truffles from Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. Voiced by Ashley Johnson (Ellie from The Last of Us, among several film credits) with a joyously sweet innocence, Gortys is a fantastic addition to the world of Borderlands, and I hope she returns in future games in the series. I can only imagine the hilarity that would ensue if she came face to face with ClaptrapÖ


Conclusion:

There are a few drawbacks to the experience, but none of them are complaints that couldnít be lobbed at other Telltale releases. For example, performance issues crop up here and there, particularly during action sequences Ė and there is a fairly lengthy one at the end of Catch a Ride. But when the dialogue is so good and the action so fun to watch (when it doesnít stutter and trip on itself), itís difficult not to get swept up in the mania.

The score speaks for itself. If youíre a fan of interactive storytelling or just like to laugh a lot, this series is a must-play. If youíre a fan of stylish visuals and a bit of drama injected into the proceedings, itís even better. Even if you have little to no experience with Borderlands itself, itís okay; this is a rare breed of franchise Ė in which every possible entry point is a good one. The only downside to recommending the series at this point is that it isnít finished yet. If youíre not up for waiting with the rest of us, take this review as a recommendation to go out and buy all the episodes once the series has run its course. Even having no idea how the rest of Tales from the Borderlands pans out, itís still a ridiculously easy sell.


-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

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