Tales from the Borderlands, Episode 1: Zero Sum – The Tell-all review

As a big fan of the Borderlands franchise I was as excited as a beat-boxing Claptrap to dive back into the world of Pandora, but also a bit skeptical about the direction it was going to take. To me, the original Borderlands was a superb game, it provided tight combat mechanics with some hilarious story that drew me in like the smell of a bakery. But with all that creamy goodness came one of the worst endings I have ever had the misfortune to witness, and all that have played it will understand the feeling of the colossal lack of pay off. Luckily, Borderlands 2 was a triumph, making the world of Pandora even more deadly and comical and still remains as one game in recent memory that I was ‘lol’ing for real! Handsome Jack for me is one of the all time best bad guys – which really can make or break a game for me – and wiping that smug smile off his face was a welcome change from the disappointing ending of the original.

Borderlands history aside, I was curious to see what Telltale could do with this action-heavy series; and how they could create the same excitement with an interactive story experience. In traditional Telltale style, Tales from the Borderlands is an episodic game so we kick of the series with part one, Zero Sum. A new feature that Telltale brought ouf for show, is an offering of characters we get to live through unlike the simple experiences of The Walking Dead or The Wolf Among Us where one playable character is apparently good enough. Episode One introduces us to the two main characters, Rhys and Fiona. The company man, Rhys wants to take over from the recently deceased Handsome Jack with the story kicking off soon after the finale of the second game. Fiona on the other hand is, to put it politely, someone who the law is opposed to, a big fat scam artist!

The story that ensures focuses on the entwining actions of these two and by playing out events as each character we can get a unique perspective of the situations. Although unlike past Telltale games, beyond picking your choices there is little interaction with the world around you. Tales from the Borderlands especially feels like you are just ticking boxes rather than playing a game. That said, Pandora feels as dangerous and as unusual as ever; and it certainly hasn’t lost its comedy bone with certain sections again making me chuckle in my chair.

Episode One is a great introduction to the characters and a chance to see some that have already make a big impact to the Borderlands universe. While you don’t seem to have much control over situations, the set pieces are fantastic and I was just enjoying watching the ensuing chaos, seeing how the unique characters deal with different situations. Although I was less sure what impact my decisions actually had, a couple of the big choices did leave me very satisfied with the outcome and while I won’t spoil it, don’t think you can get away with cheating me…

Bring on Episode 2, Atlas Mugged, which is expected next week! I’m going to mix it up here and controversially not give it a score – I’m going to wait until I’ve played all the episodes and rate the game as a whole.