26th Nov2014

‘Tales of the Borderlands: Episode 1 – Zer0 Sum’ Review (PC)

by Paul Metcalf

bandit-attack

I guess it depends on how much of a fan of Borderlands you are as to which Telltale Games release you were most looking forward to the most, Tale of the Borderlands or The Game of Thrones but it is Borderlands that has won out and scored the first release with Tale of the Borderlands: Episode 1 – Zer0 Sum.  The name of the episode gives a very easy to work out hint to one of the guest stars of course.

In Tales of the Borderlands your story is split between two characters, Rhys and Fiona.  Rhys is an up and coming Hyperion company man who finds himself screwed out of his promotion and coming to Pandora to steal a Vault Key away from his boss.  Fiona is a grifter looking to con Hyperion out of ten million dollars worth of cash, so it doesn’t take a genius to see where their stories come together.

The interesting aspect of controlling the two characters is that you see two sides of the story, and each have their own personality traits that lead to different interpretations of the events.  Where Rhys tries to be the big hero and success in everything he does, Fiona likes to tell it as it is with a cynical edge that leaves no victims behind.  With a heist style to it that feels like something right out of Ocean’s Eleven, the setting of Pandora gives it quite a unique feel and also an addictive story telling style that really drags you in to the action packed world of Pandora.

For fans of Borderlands the biggest question has to be can Telltale Games keep the feel of their beloved Pandora while moulding the gameplay to fit the adventure game style.  The good news is that because of the work they have done with Gearbox Software they really get the humour and how the world works.  There is an old west feel to the world where bandits and cowboys like psychopaths rule, anything goes, there are no laws and it is very much a case of survival of the fittest.  The world is full of guns, vehicles and violence and to survive you have to know how to handle yourself.  In many ways this is why Rhys is more dependent on Fiona than he would like to admit, though he is getting more help than he realises from an unlikely source.

Telltale Games fans of course have a more important question (for them at least) does Borderlands fit into the adventure game style that they love, and can you connect to the characters? The news on this side is even better.  As well as Fiona and Rhys we meet characters who are friends and family and I won’t go into too much detail because part of the joy of these games is to meet them yourselves.  It is the case though that Telltale have created characters that are likable and the gamer can connect with, which is very important to feeling the importance of choice in the game.

Telltale really are perfecting the illusion of being in control with the games they create and they do it very well in Tales of the Borderlands, and to some extent we are in control.  The argument that every choice changes the story though doesn’t really hold up as the narrative has to be followed.  Even with this restriction though the story that has been created for Tales of the Borderlands is very good and this is where the game really wins the audience, especially fans of Borderlands.

You don’t need to know everything about Borderlands to like Tales of the Borderlands, I would argue you could jump straight into this game totally cold and enjoy it, but you will get more if you have played the games before.  Telltale Games really are perfecting their art of telling a story and Tales of the Borderlands: Episode 1 – Zer0 Sum is a perfect start to a Borderlands tale.

***** 5/5

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek
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