Game Review | Tales From The Borderlands | Season 1, Episode 1 | "Zer0 Sum"
Episode Summary: A stranger kidnaps Rhys and Fiona, who have an antagonistic relationship, and forces them to tell their shared story of the Gortys Project. (Wikipedia)
So, another adventure game from Telltale Games, although this is a little different as it’s not quite as serious as their other series like Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead. In fact, there’s quite a lot of humour including several genuine laugh out loud moments in this first episode alone.
You play as both Rhys, who quickly loses his job at the Hyperion corporation and ends up on the planet of Pandora (where the main Borderlands games are set) alongside his colleague, Vaughn, and the rather sheltered duo are soon scrambling for their lives trying to escape from bandits.
You also play as Fiona, who is attempting to con a local fencer named August, with the help of her sister Sasha and their mentor, Felix. The two stories combine quite well as the framing device actually places the main story in the past with Rhys and Fiona arguing in the present over what actually happened.
Having no idea this was how the story was structured going into the game, it actually came as a pleasant surprise to see some events from different sides, and the opportunity to deliberately set up some very funny scenes – including one with some oh so very posh accents – is very much appreciated.
The main thing that sets apart the Telltale games I’ve played from something like Life is Strange is that the Telltale adventures usually have a specific genre such as fantasy (Game of Thrones), fairy tales (The Wolf Among Us), zombies (The Walking Dead) and now sci-fi with Tales from the Borderlands.
Straight away, there’s a greater hook even if you haven’t played the other Borderlands games because the setting itself is interesting and so far removed from reality that you can’t help but want to see what happens next, whereas I was just hoping that Life is Strange would pick up in the second episode to really draw me in.
Tales from the Borderlands plays much like the other Telltale games, being a mouse-driven point and click adventure with some occasional Quick Time Events that require mashing a keyboard button or two to liven things up here and there, so the controls really aren’t that difficult to pick up for new players or veterans.
The art style for Tales from the Borderlands suits the property, at least matching the promo art for the main Borderlands series, which is conveniently close to the typical Telltale cartoon-style presentation of their other games. Nothing to write home about, but no need for anything flashy when the story is what matters most here.
The real problem is I’m struggling to really get on with the characters so far – Rhys and Fiona are both okay, although the voice performances aren’t really quite there just yet, and Vaughn is more annoying than anything at the moment, seemingly present just to be a typical cowardly ‘nerd’ type to laugh at.
The only characters I can genuinely say I liked throughout are Sasha, who seems more developed and well-rounded than her sister and co-protagonist, Fiona; and the Vault Hunter, Zer0, who pulls off all manner of cool stunts and communicates regularly with holographic smilies projected over his helmet.
I’m not going to be too critical of "Zer0 Sum" as the first part in a series is always going to be primarily set up and introducing the characters along the way. Even then, the setting alone has me interested, and the level of humour is definitely promising so far.