Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Platform: PC [Reviewed], Mac, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Android, iOS
Release Date: August 18, 2015 for PC, Mac, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4, August 19, 2015 for Xbox 360 and Xbox One, August 20, 2015 for Android and iOS
Tales from the Borderlands is another Telltale adventure game that, as a Borderlands fan, I was hesitant to try. Quality differs greatly from series-to-series, as Telltale adapts to each genre. As well, I didn’t want to see a series that I enjoy so much getting a mediocre addition. Thankfully, playing up to and then through Episode 4, I was pleasantly surprised at just how enjoyable the ride has been so far.
I ended up playing through almost the entirety of the first four episodes in less than 48-hours, three episodes in one day alone. Something about this series made it difficult to put down. With that said, allow me to give a brief summary of my impressions leading up to the latest episode release, Escape Plan Bravo.
Meeting Rhys, Vaughn, Fiona, Sasha, Loader Bot, and Gortys introduces an unlikely group of non-hero, allies, as they embark on their adventure. This excursion is an interesting endeavor full of humor, some serious moments, and action. Each episode felt well-paced, and the same sentiments were found in the story throughout. It was a lot of fun seeing just how well Loader Bot could hold a grudge, among other things.
Visually, Tales from the Borderlands does an amazing job mixing together the Borderlands and the more general Telltale style. The voice acting is great, and it altogether feels like a genuine Borderlands experience. Reaching the end of Episode 3, I was excited to hop right into Episode 4, despite how late it already was in the night, just to see what would happen next.
Disclaimer: I will mention this now, if you have not finished through Episode 3, Catch a Ride, be aware that this review will be discussing plot elements from prior episodes, including up through the conclusion of Episode 3. I will avoid spoiling anything significant from Escape Plan Bravo, but it would be hard to dig into it without bringing up prior episodes in some level of detail. With that said, let’s get started.
At the end of Episode 3, your group wasn’t doing so well. Athena had been defeated, Vaughn was nowhere to be seen after distracting Vallory, and otherwise Rhys, Fiona, Sasha, Loader Bot, and Gortys were all at the mercy of Vallory’s group that had them completely outgunned. Things were not looking good.
As Escape Plan Bravo begins, you find yourself working for Vallory at gunpoint. Your job is to collect the last piece of Gortys, the beacon, so that Vallory can control the Vault of the Traveler. Granted, a major problem makes itself immediately apparent in that you have to make your way back up to Helios in order to grab the piece. With a little help from your friendly neighborhood crazy brain buddy, you formulate a plan to get the beacon, and get to work.
The story throughout this episode felt more dramatic than prior episodes, but it still had that levity that makes the Borderlands series so enjoyable. You are forced to make some of the toughest decisions yet as you blast off into space and go about your mission on Helios. As the penultimate episode, I felt it did move a little slow at times, but at the same time, I can acknowledge the fact that the exposition was necessary for giving us what I hope is a strong conclusion in the final episode.
Your mission will come with its share of problems, and by the end, you will see what exactly comes with many of the decisions you had made up to that point. As another well-done addition to the story so far, you may experience a range of emotions as you once again deal with Jack and the questionable methods of Hyperion, but all will lead back to excitement for seeing what exactly will happen in the final episode.
In terms of gameplay, I felt this episode was a little bit lighter than prior entries. As you play through the episode, it makes sense, but it can also be somewhat disappointing. The bulk of the action oriented gameplay finds its way into one nontraditional scene of gunplay that is positively ridiculous, but also some of the most fun you may have throughout the entirety of Tales from the Borderlands.
Besides that, there are some fun moments, but as I mentioned, this episode felt like a lot of exposition built towards giving the series a strong conclusion in the fifth and final episode. It was still very enjoyable though, and I don’t feel it is any lesser than previous entries in the series. After all, you finally get to meet Handsome Jack’s gallant steed, the diamond Butt Stallion, as more than just an odd conclusion to a Tiny Tina adventure.
Now, I can’t say for certain if it was just my computer or if it was Escape Plan Bravo, but I did run into a few technical hiccups. Thankfully, my cursor wasn’t getting randomly stuck on the screen like in Episode 3. Instead, I ran into more visual hiccups where the game would give a slight stutter, mouth movements would be off for a few seconds, and then would even back out. It was nothing incredibly substantial, but it was also all too easy to notice.
As I mentioned, I don’t know for certain if those hiccups were a result of my own machine or not, so I won’t let that affect my review score. They also didn’t greatly affect the experience in general, as it was only a handful of times. I did feel it was worth a mention, regardless, as it could negatively affect immersion for others if it is a performance bug. In the end, I was fairly satisfied that the visual and audio quality remained relatively consistent all of the way through Escape Plan Bravo since the start of the first episode. This episode further reflected quality and care being put into the final product, as another part of this continuously well-paced adventure drew to a close.
The Bottom Line
Overall, I can say with certainty that anybody who has enjoyed Tales from the Borderlands up to this point will be entirely satisfied with what Escape Plan Bravo brings to the table. Maintaining that Borderlands charm with characters we’ve come to appreciate, the fourth episode did a great job further crafting this story that meshes will with the Borderlands universe.
With this being my first romp through Tales from the Borderlands, I can safely say that anybody who isn’t already a fan of Borderlands will find this harder to appreciate. Escape Plan Bravo went on to make many more references that you’ll only really appreciate if you’ve played through the three main games to completion. As a sequel to Borderlands 2, it makes sense, but if you went in not understanding that, a lot would be missed.
For any fan of Borderlands though, this is an easy recommendation.