If Telltale Games has taught us anything in the past two years, it’s that they are up for whatever task they undertake. But lets be honest, that’s a proper way of saying that one of the industry’s premier developers never half-asses its projects.
Tales from the Borderlands is no different, at least from what I saw Wednesday in a 40-minute hands-off demo of the first episode. To sum up that time effectively: this is the personality of Borderlands with the proper storytelling of Telltale.
Of course, this is a preview, so I should continue.
It’s easy to view Telltale’s work on The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us and jump to the conclusion that the tone in those two games cannot translate over to the world of Pandora. And you’d be right.
But Telltale isn’t just a single-tooled developer. The team is full of well-rounded storytellers, and that’s never been more evident than when the first joke reaches the punch line in Tales from the Borderlands, reminding you that this is very much a game in the unique Borderlands universe.
The build I saw was about 80 percent complete. A few scenes were not finished, and the voice work still needed touching up. But the gameplay I saw gave an indication that the foundation for this episodic adventure is extremely solid.
For the first time in a Telltale game, players will play as two characters. Rhys was the first presented to us. A company man looking to climb the ladder up to the top of Hyperion, Rhys gives the impression that he’s full of himself and up to no good. Beside him is Fiona, a con artist who’s looking to pull off “the big one,” a la Grand Theft Auto 5.
Telltale has done a remarkable job at capturing the heart of Borderland’s humor from this character standpoint. They’re full of one-liners, they can only go so long before being sarcastic, and at times, they can be dicks.
That key component is carried over to Pandora as well, where little differentiates this experience from the main franchise. Loot is incredibly important and is around every corner. Everything is out to kill you and it doesn’t apologize for it. And if that’s not enough, the plot fits appropriately after the events of Borderlands 2.
Combat will be familiar for those who’ve played any of Season Two of The Walking Dead. You’ll move the thumb stick left and right and up and down to escape gunfire and melee attacks. Telltale also showed off two interesting additions — one involving hacking with Rhys and his cyborg eyeball, and the other with you controlling sequences of a Hyperion mech in combat.
Still, my favorite parts from the demo were the dialogue options that resulted in “____ will remember that.” It stings just as much as it does in The Walking Dead, even if it’s a mere satirical response to a conversation that has nothing to do with the story.
I could finish this preview with an elaborate string of words, but I’ll simply say this: I enjoyed every minute of my time with Tales from the Borderlands. This episodic adventure is in very, very good hands. Fans will find out soon when episode one releases later this summer.