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Tales from the Borderlands: A Telltale Games Series

Score: 100%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Telltale Games
Developer: Telltale Games
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Adventure/ Action

Graphics & Sound:

I will say this right up front. While I have enjoyed pretty much every release Telltale Games has come out with over the years, Tales from the Borderlands: A Telltale Games Series has been the most outright fun I've had with any game in a really long time. Everything from the game's character development and story, to the visuals and even the perfect mix of action and comedy make this game a treat for anyone... well, anyone who should be allowed to play a Mature rated game, that is.

As always, Telltale has expertly taken the visual style of the source material and translated it well into their game. Everything from character styles to iconic locations and characters seen in the other Borderlands games look just right. From the desolate landscape of Pandora to the steel gray styles of Helios, the various places you will visit in Tales feel right for the well established video game universe. The same can be said for the characters as well. While the game's main cast includes new people, they fit the look of the other games and those characters that do pop up from the main Borderlands games fit the bill as well.

The game isn't a slouch when it comes to audio either. The voice acting is spot on, and considering the amount of dialogue in Tales from the Borderlands, it needs to be. Strong and well known voice actors like Troy Baker and Laura Bailey give life to your two playable characters, Rhys and Fiona respectively, while secondary characters are voiced by the likes of Chris Hardwick, Patrick Warburton, Nolan North and Ashley Johnson.

The game also brings back standard Borderlands voices and characters like Dameon Clarke as Handsome Jack, Lydia Mackay as Athena and Mikey Neumann as Scooter. So while familiarity with the Borderlands world isn't necessary to enjoy Tales, those already steeped in the previous Borderlands releases will have enough common points with the other games to make this newest entry feel like a solid part of series.


Tales from the Borderlands: A Telltale Games Series takes place some time after Borderlands 2, and is a story told by Rhys and Fiona as they are held captive. You start off in control of Rhys as he talks about his life on Helios as a Hyperion company man along with his friend and co-worker Vaughn (Hardwick). When Rhys finds his promised promotion usurped by his long-time business rival, Hugo Vasquez (Warburton), he decides to take revenge on the new Vice President by horning in on a deal to buy a vault key from a Pandoran contact.

When Vaughn and Rhys head down to the planet with 10 million of Hyperion's cash on hand, they hope to swoop in, make a quick deal, and return as heroes. What they don't count on is Fiona and her side of the story.

Fiona, her sister Sasha and their surrogate father Felix have concocted a rather interesting con. They've made a fake vault key and have manipulated a local thug, August (North) into selling it to Vasquez. When Rhys and Vaughn show up to make the deal instead, the con artists start to get a little antsy, especially when they realize that Rhys' cybernetic eye could easily scan the prop and realize it isn't real.

Unfortunately, the deal falls apart rather badly and not only are Rhys and his friend trying to retrieve their stolen $10,000,000, but August isn't too happy with Fiona and Sasha. Both of these become major driving factors in the two main characters' adventures, but the money and fear of August are quickly overshadowed when the group discovers an old Atlas facility that appears to have a map to an actual vault.

Tales from the Borderlands is an adventure game in the same style of The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us and Game of Thrones. That is to say, they are more like interactive movies where you work your way through a lot of dialogue with stints of quick-time sequence based action. There are a few major differences between Tales and those other games, though. For one, Tales from the Borderlands is far more lighthearted than most of Telltale's games. While there is a good bit of simple slapstick silliness in the game, there is also a good mix of darker humor that will still make you laugh a lot.

The other major difference is the amount of action in this game. While the other three do have action sequences that will result in a Game Over if you aren't fast enough, those events aren't very frequent and most of those games are all about building up the suspense for some heavy hitting drama. In this game, I found the number of action sequences to be fairly high and regular, and I often felt like my characters were in a lot more peril than in the other games. Sure, The Walking Dead would have you trying to shake off a really close zombie, or Game of Thrones throws you into a sword fight, but Tales from the Borderlands frequently puts you in fights with bandits, psychos or even your co-workers (that last one is, quite frankly, one of the funniest scenes I've ever played through and had to pause the game several times just to get through because of laughing so much). When it comes down to it, while all these games fit the adventure genre, this one is much heavier on the action and comedy than the drama, and it pays off big time.

Tales from the Borderlands is broken up into five episodes, and while we typically get the episodes one at a time and review them in pieces (for example, the Xbox One episodic reviews we have), this time we got the A Telltale Games Series, which not only let us experience and review all five episodes as a whole, but it also comes with a set of skins for Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel!.


Tales from the Borderlands: A Telltale Games Series is a very accessible game. Given the interactive-movie nature of this title, even the most inexperienced gamers will be able to pick up Tales and enjoy its unique style. There are a few inventory-based puzzles to work out, but a vast majority of the game's interactivity comes in the quick-time events that will see your character safely through any number of potentially deadly encounters.

Of course, as with an Telltale game, there are also the choices to consider. While Tales from the Borderlands isn't as serious as other similar games, you will have to make choices and they will have lasting consequences; some will be apparent right away and some won't really have an effect until the end of the game, but they are all important. Because of that, some of the hardest parts of Tales aren't in getting through some knot of bad guys or working out some puzzle, but instead, it's deciding exactly what you want to say or do when confronted with a choice, because trust me, someone is watching your choices and they will remember them.

Game Mechanics:

While a lot of Tales from the Borderlands: A Telltale Games Series involves watching the story unfold and choosing the best dialogue options to fit your personal brand of role-playing, the action sequences are frequent enough that you don't want to ever keep your fingers too far away from the keyboard. Given that your main characters include a corporate middle manager and a quick-witted con artist, you are going to be outmatched or out-gunned often throughout the game. While you will have a few weapons to help you survive the frequent attacks, you will often find yourself actually dodging around enemy assaults fairly often. As with other games of this style from Telltale, your primary keys when in an action sequence involve the [WSAD] keys for movements or dodges in the designated area, and the [Q] and [E] keys for other tasks. These could be anything from a rapid tapping of [Q] to represent prying open a door or pushing someone off of you, or the [Q]s followed by an [E] for a quick final push to finish off that part of the sequence.

From beginning to end, Tales from the Borderlands is just a fun ride that often takes advantage of the fact that it is being told by two different characters. There are several points where something just doesn't quite seem right, and then all of a sudden, the character not recounting the events will interrupt the other to add clarifications or just outright object to what was being said. Given the friction-filled relationship between the two storytellers, these confrontations often result in some humorous scenes that will stick with you long after the final credits roll.

Even if you aren't familiar with the Borderlands games, you should seriously check out this game. Any background information you might need is fed to you in a way that doesn't sound like it is trying to catch you up and it shouldn't make those already familiar with the world feel like they are being talked down to. It really does strike a solid balance for both potential audiences.

-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

Minimum System Requirements:

XP Service Pack 3, Core 2 Duo 2GHz or equivalent, 3 GB RAM, 4 GB Free Hard Drive Space, ATI or NVidia card w/ 512 MB RAM (Not recommended for Intel integrated graphics), Direct X 9.0c, Direct X 9.0c sound device

Test System:

Windows 8.1 64-bit, Intel i7-4770K 3.5GHz, 8 GB RAM, Radeon HD 5870 Graphics Card, DirectX 11

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Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated