Overall, Telltale’s Tales from the Borderlands has been a very enjoyable experience. Each episode provides a mix of laughs and character progression that keeps players coming back after the long spells between releases. Episode five, titled “The Vault of the Traveler”, takes what is already good about Tales from the Borderlands and provides what feels like the perfect finale. This episode gives players a lot to laugh at and brings the story to very dark places, but each of these make sense based on how the characters have progressed.
While many found episode four to be heart wrenching, I personally felt it to be rather cloying. However, the opening of episode five gave me an authentic emotional moment. So much so that it was difficult for me to continue playing the rest of the episode. Just as with The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us, and Game of Thrones thus far, moments like this are examples of Telltale at its finest. After the initial punch to the gut, the episode gets progressively darker. Without spoiling the story, there are some popular characters that die through a series of events that occur relatively early in the episode.
Fortunately, not everything in the episode is dark. Roughly midway through episode five, the story takes on that action-comedy feel. This is familiar to players as most of the game’s best moments have felt the same. During this portion of the story, episode five delivers some laugh-out-loud moments and many of the story’s loose ends are resolved. Perhaps most notably, we finally find out who the person is behind the mask; which is something players have been trying to figure out since the first episode. Additionally, based on the decisions the player makes, there is the opportunity to see a very cool cameo appearance from someone particularly important to fans of Borderlands games.
Not all of the second half of the game is laughs either, and based on the player’s choices there is at least one more heartbreaking moment. Unfortunately, episode 5 ends with some plot elements never feeling fully resolved, giving me the opinion that we will see a Tales from the Borderlands sequel. That sequel would be welcomed, because just like the previous episodes were an enjoyable experience, episode 5, “The Vault of the Traveler”, provides more of what makes playing/watching these episodes worthwhile. Episode five of Telltale’s Tales from the Borderlands made me laugh more than any of the developer’s previous games. As mentioned above, this episode really gives you some emotional moments as well. What’s far more notable is that this is the first Telltale game I have completed that made me rethink some of my decisions. After other Telltale games I would replay an episode to examine how the story would change based on my choices. But after episode five, I actually wondered if I had did the “right” thing. This is an interesting change for Telltale, and is proof that despite the fact that their games have become too formulaic, the studio can still tell a good story.
As a game, nothing truly sets episode five apart from of the previous episodes or any of the other Telltale games. There are times in which you feel like you aren’t playing a game, but watching a movie. There are still times when the game seems to suffer frame rate issues. Lastly, there are times when the game is waiting for you to do something but because you have been watching for so long, you don’t know that it is your turn to take action. Despite this, Tales from the Borderlands provided some really good characters, and took players on an adventure. Unfortunately some of the beloved characters did not make it to the end of said adventure. But for the ones that are still around, players should look forward to a new experience with them.
Tales from the Borderlands - E5
+ Laugh out loud funny
+ Choices Matter
+ Heart wrenching Moments
– Unresolved plot elements