Sunday, August 27, 2017

Tales from the Borderlands

Borderlands "Take Over Your Life" bundle was 83% off for me on Steam as I had all of it except for Telltale Games' Tales from the Borderlands. And so I decided to play the currently latest title to the franchise even if its gameplay seemed suspect.

QTEs from the Borderlands

Tales turned out to consist of always-timed dialogue option picking, quick-time event action sequences, and point-and-click scenes. I started playing with a gamepad but switched to mouse and keyboard as I was failing many inconsistent QTEs. But then I switched back because dialogue options with m/kb are displayed as a list (instead of being spread out) and you do not even get hotkeys for them. Misclicking was too easy to my liking.

In the scenes where you are free to explore, camera stays in a fixed position. I found it annoying and limiting. In my opinion Life Is Strange had it much better by giving you free movement and camera. It would have made it easier to find hidden money for Fiona, one of the two protagonist, who gets occasionally a chance to buy stuff. It is just cosmetics but I was somewhat upset I did not always get the most expensive things.

The illusion of choice

I did not stress on what choices to make as I had heard that in Telltale titles the plot ends up going the same way regardless. I quite often even chose the ellipsis option to say nothing. Tales, however, did come to a climax where you get to pick your vault team and the selection available depends on the decisions you made.

I got the three people that are available no matter what and I was fine with it. There was however a bonus option for a surprise vault hunter and the silhouettes gave the impression I could have gotten Lilith to join my team, which would have been cool. But then the end credits revealed that the vault hunter was just Claptrap and I was again satisfied with my choices.

Well written

Unlike the controls, I found the story to be entertaining. It was often legitimately funny even if a tad predictable in how it follows the standards of a Borderlands story. Having played Borderlands 2 and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel is probably recommended too, though, as there are old characters from them and Tales kind of continues the same story. The game is developed only by Telltale but at least Anthony Burch from Gearbox Software is credited as a writer.

Great voice acting helped with game being enjoyable. Fiona and Rhys are played by industry veterans Laura Bailey and Troy Baker. and the rest of the cast was fine at least. Color-coded subtitles were also a nice touch.

Tales is an episodic game and each one of the five episodes has an opening scene after its prologue. I thought it maybe somewhat unnecessary but it is probably Telltale's way of padding the episodes to a certain length.

The opening music tracks are pretty nice, too, though the last one is a bit tame. I think the first half of the final episode as a whole is the game's poorest part but it does pick up speed towards the end. Music used in general is very fitting; I noticed they had used a few old Borderlands songs.

The game uses Telltale's own engine, which is said to have started showing its age. The comic book graphic style hides the lack of definition quite well, though, and the neat thing about Borderlands is that it was already in black outlines and cel shading. Thus they got to use their own and the original art style at once. And what a great style it is. I just wish the gameplay was more enjoyable.

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