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Tales from the Borderlands Episode One: Zer0 Sum Review

I absolutely love Telltale’s episodic games, from the emotionally draining Walking Dead series to the film-noir-meets-fantasy stylings of The Wolf Among Us. When news started to emerge about the next franchises these games were going to be based on, I was ecstatic to hear Game of Thrones would be a likely candidate. Then Borderlands was also suggested and I think it’s fair to say I was more intrigued than excited. I’m a huge fan of the Borderlands games, but could their lore be transferred to the episodic adventure genre? Judging from this first episode: Yes… brilliantly.

The gameplay will be familiar to anyone who has experienced a Telltale production before: You dictate the way the story plays out through the selection of dialogue responses and choosing which action to take in certain situations. Occasionally you will have simple puzzles to solve, which - although not exactly Day of the Tentacle level brainteasers - offer a nice break from just clicking on a response.

Tales from the borderlands 1

Making humour work in games is something that’s incredibly hard to achieve, usually the jokes just aren’t funny at all or they’re so cringeworthy you wonder if they’ve been done ironically. I can honestly say I have never laughed so much at a game as I did at Tales from the Borderlands; I’m not talking about little chuckles either, I mean full on, Brian Blessed-style roars of laughter.

You alternate between controlling two characters in Zer0 Sum: there’s Rhys, a middle manager at weapons company Hyperion, who is looking to get that promotion he so badly wants, and Fiona - a con artist living on the planet Pandora. Most of the story is told from these characters’ recollections of what actually happened - though sometimes they have different opinions of how events took place. Seeing parts of the game replayed from different viewpoints is a great narrative device, reminding me of a similar effect that was used in Call of Juarez: Gunslinger.

Tales from the borderlands 2

The supporting cast of characters are equally impressive, many of whom will be known to those familiar with Borderlands lore. A special mention goes to the hilarious loader bot and to Rhys’ boss, Hugo P. Vasquez, voiced by the always brilliant Patrick Warburton, best known as the voice of Joe in Family Guy ( I also recommend checking out his performance in Bad Milo - a timeless story about an anal tumour that becomes sentient and goes on a murderous rampage)

This first episode manages to seamlessly jump from comedic scenes to moments of genuine drama. There’s also some surprisingly well-implemented action sequences - the final third of the game was like something from Mad Max 2. Although Zer0 Sum may not contain as many incredibly tense decisions as The Walking Dead, there are still plenty of moments where you’re faced with tough choices.

So what are the game’s negative points? Hardly any, really. Like all of Telltale’s episodic games, interactivity takes a back seat a lot of the time. It’s true that the nature of these games does mean you spend most of your time just watching, but I did sometimes feel like I was actively participating less during Zer0 Sum than in other Telltale titles.

Tales from the borderlands 3

Overall, this first episode is a fantastic introduction to the genre’s take on the Borderlands universe. While there are the occasional long periods of player inactivity, they do little to distract from the engaging story and characters, especially as you’ll spend most of this time laughing. If this is what Telltale has to offer for episode one, then I can’t wait for the rest of the series.

9.00/10 9

Tales from the Borderlands (Reviewed on Windows)

Excellent. Look out for this one.

Overall, this first episode is a fantastic introduction to the genre’s take on the Borderlands universe. While there are the occasional long periods of player inactivity, they do little to distract from the engaging story and characters, especially as you’ll spend most of this time laughing. If this is what Telltale has to offer for episode one, then I can’t wait for the rest of the series.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review

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Rob Thubron

Rob Thubron

Staff Writer

Rob's your typical gamer: A weightlifting vegetarian with half his body tattooed. Loves to write about what he loves.

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