Aaron Jean On November 16, 2015 at 3:58 pm

Tales from Borderlands Live EventTelltale Games seem much more comfortable with the language of cinematography than the language of game design. If games are to be measured by the things gamers love to rage about, Tales from the Borderlands isn’t worth its footprint on your hard drive. Boiled down to your interaction with the game, you play a walking simulator, mash some QTE buttons, and watch some unskippable cutscenes.

That’s really not fair, though, is it? This may be the snarkiest game I’ve ever played. There’s so much humour, so much self-awareness, so many sarcastic quips. It’s one of the most laugh-out-loud funny stories I’ve experienced this year, and it rivals Uncharted in the realm of gaming’s best adventure stories.

It feels like this is the first time Telltale gets to break loose and have fun with their craft. They’ve established their formula; we’ve established that we like it. We’ve come to know the phrase “_______ will remember that”. We like picking the most outrageous dialogue option just to see what happens. Tales from the Borderlands is the product of a developer that knows its audience and their expectations. There are dozens of meta jokes, for example: if you skip the ending credits(who doesn’t?), a dialogue box pops up that says “Telltale Games will remember that.”

I expected Tales from the Borderlands to be funny in the loud, juvenile way that Borderlands elicits laughs. It’s definitely still got that childish edge, but there’s so much more attitude and character here. Most of the narrative is framed as a story told by the two main characters, Rhys and Fiona. One will sometimes hilariously lie or play up their role in the story, which is always immediately called out and corrected by the other, who will continue the story with a “This is how it really happened-”

There’s a Fury Road-style deathrace, an epic Ocean’s Eleven-type corporate heist, and a heart-melting robot romance, or maybe it’s a friendship – you can never tell with robots. It’s constantly swapping tones, locales, and characters, and it treats all of them with an irreverence that’s refreshingly comedic, a quality too rarely applicable to video games.

I could complain about the linearity of the story or the usually-minimal impact of the player decisions, but I’m fine with the straightforwardness. QTEs are a cheap way bring tension, but I’m OK with them here. It’s more of a playable movie than a dynamic story that evolves with you, but even “pointless” dialogue choices that don’t have narrative impact still inform your opinions of these characters and provide opportunities to subtly role-play them.

I wondered whether TTG could pull off a lighter adventure story. There are a few sad moments and character deaths, but they’re never lingered on before the adventure hijinks continue. Overall, this is a playable summer action blockbuster, and I loved every minute of it. Bravo, Telltale Games!


It’s mellow, never a challenge, but you always feel involved in the story, which is just what you want for this type of episodic adventure.


It’s Borderlands’ cel-shaded style through the lens of a director’s camera. There’s nothing to complain about here, everything’s sharp, colourful, and varied.


Wonderful licensed music from James Blake, Twin Shadow, and others, alongside top-notch voice acting.


Even if you’ve never played a Borderlands game or a Telltale game, I can’t recommend Tales from the Borderlands enough. Such a well-told story!

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