Quick Recommendation: “Tales From the Borderlands”

I did not like “Borderlands 2”, which I found somewhat dull (ooh, hey, a slightly bigger gun, that’ll make a difference) and after that had no desire to try the original. When Telltale announced a Borderlands game, I was very meh about it.

But I tried it out, and let me tell you, it was OUTSTANDING.

I don’t think I need to talk much about gameplay. It’s a Telltale game, meaning it’s basically a playable television show. They’ve really perfected their unique choice mechanic since episode 1 of “The Walking Dead”, and the cel-shaded graphics are as gorgeous as always. The voice acting is uniformly exceptional, especially from the always sensational Troy Baker as Rhys. The guy playing the villain (I’m not going to say who that is since it’s actually a REALLY big spoiler) is also fantastic.

But the real appeal of any Telltale game is the story, so that’s what I’ll talk about.

I’m writing this here and not on Superversive SF because “Tales” isn’t even CLOSE to superversive, which is part of the charm. Oh, there’s a moral order; it’s not nihilistic or depressing. In fact, it’s comedic, and very funny indeed. It’s just that all of the characters are terrible people.

There’s actually something oddly charming about this…I mean, the game isn’t even trying to hide it. Outside of the two robots – and even Loader Bot kills QUITE A LOT OF PEOPLE – you’re all varying degrees of terrible.

Is there any redemption for you guys? Yes, but not as much as you’d think. Is there a REAL villain to fight, someone who is obviously the bad guy here even more clearly than you are? Yes, there definitely is, which helps a lot. Even so, you can really only be called the good guys because the people you happen to be up against are either worse or ACTIVELY trying to kill you.

I mean, Rhys idolized HANDSOME JACK. That’s…not the sign of a noble person.

There’s also something charmingly low key about it all. There’s no big hero’s journey or save the world stuff going on here. You’re doing all of this because you want whatever is in the vault you’re hunting. That’s it. No other reason. At the very end you get another, stronger motivation to complete the quest, but this doesn’t come until the game is almost over – and even it isn’t something that’s going to affect anyone outside of your immediate circle of friends.

Still, the game has a surprisingly big heart to it. The characters are all likable even in spite of themselves, the story is entertaining as hell, it’s very funny, and it can even be surprisingly poignant at times. I was actually amazed at how much I liked it. If you like story-based games and aren’t adverse to hanging out with some real low-lives for awhile this is a game you really don’t want to miss.

I’m not a fan of star ratings, but this gets two thumbs way up. Highly recommended.

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