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Tales from the Borderlands: Episode 5 - The Vault of the Traveler
Score: 100%
Publisher: Telltale Games
Developer: Telltale Games
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Adventure


Tales from the Borderlands: Episode 5 Ė The Vault of the Traveler is Telltale at their absolute best. Given how much Iíve gushed over this game over the year, thatís really saying something. It takes four episodesí worth of choices and dialogue and delivers a finale thatís poignant, smart, exciting, and immensely satisfying. Episodic adventures can feel like a gamble at times; after all, when you get into them, youíre investing yourself in something that might not deliver in the end. Tales from the Borderlands has made one or two missteps, but here, at the end of the line, I can say with no hesitation that itís a grand slam. And itís one of 2015ís best games.

Connective Tissue:

When we last saw Rhys, Fiona, and the gang, things werenít looking good. Not only were they deep in enemy territory, but they were under the thumb of the likes of Vallory, August, Finch, and Kroger. The good guys were no longer hunting the Vault for themselves; they were hunting the Vault to stay alive. Oh, and Handsome Jack finally snapped, assuming direct control over Rhys through his cybernetic implants and his Echo Eye in a murderous bid to reassume the mantle of authority he once wielded over Hyperion.

Tales from the Borderlands has made excellent use of its story-within-a-story framework, and it pays off beautifully in Episode 5: The Vault of the Traveler. Rhys and Fiona, still held captive by a stranger with a familiar voice, finally catch us up to their current predicament in the first half of the episode. Itís already a given that our two main leads survive whatever transpired on Helios, but itís no less enjoyable to experience it; itís got a handful of intense, shocking, and hilarious moments to be more than worth it. And special mention goes to Rhysí final showdown with Handsome Jack, which brilliantly subverts expectations by delivering a quiet, contemplative debate on what it really means to be a hero. This leads to a series of quick time events that probably everyone saw coming, but is no less difficult to watch.

Coup de Gr‚ce:

Once the story catches up to the present day, things start coming together with a degree of natural, organic efficiency that Iíve never seen in a Telltale game. In most of these games, all the important choices made, whether in gameplay or dialogue, contribute to the shape and tone of the endgame. Tales from the Borderlands is no exception, but it goes the extra mile in making these consequences tangible. Without spoiling anything, The Vault of the Travelerís second half deals with one final mission: and of course, it has to do with the opening of the Vault. But whatís brilliant about this sequence is the sudden realization the player has when they realize that theyíve been preparing for this throughout the last seven or so hours of play. And depending on the choices you made, this final encounter will play out in a way that is more specific and personal than Iíve ever seen in a Telltale game.

By the time the credits rolled, I realized how much I cared about these characters Ė and how fervently I hope that they will play a prominent role in whateverís next for the Borderlands franchise. At this point, theyíre all old, dear friends, and their world, ravaged by chaos, murder, and depravity though it is, is a joyous one to inhabit.


At this point, Iím sure I sound like a broken record, but I canít be any more emphatic about how fantastic this series is. Tales from the Borderlands is Telltaleís crown jewel. It is their absolute best work to date, and it deserves to be played. It nails the humor, the look, and the feel of Borderlands, but it has a great big heart underneath all the goofiness and all the carnage. If youíre a fan of Telltale games, buy Tales from the Borderlands. If youíre a Borderlands fan, buy Tales from the Borderlands. Oh, hell, just buy Tales from the Borderlands.

-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

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