Tales from the Borderlands, Episode 5: The Vault of the Traveler
Going into the first stretch of the fifth episode of Tales From the Borderlands, I had a similar problem to the one I had with the second episode. There wasn’t much gameplay to speak of, where there were only token nods to interactivity.
Once I got past that early hump, however, things evened out in a hurry. There are elements of the fifth episode that call all the way back to the first episode, and how you dealt with several NPCs, as well as how much money Fiona’s been able to squirrel away, and they determine how the final stage plays out.
Discussing it at all is a fairly immense spoiler, except to say that Rhys, Fiona, and their ragtag crew of misfits find the Vault that they got the means to find in Episode 4. Everything goes to hell shortly thereafter and a lot of people (have the potential to) die. That’s life on Pandora, where psychotic, cannibal murderers are apparently being churned out by an unattended cloning vat somewhere, because otherwise the planet should probably be abandoned.
At the end of the day, I’m reasonably positive about Tales From the Borderlands as a whole. It’s funny, the humor’s reasonably intelligent, the voice acting is top-notch, and it builds a great deal on top of the bizarre Borderlands universe.
I do think that the game has, as a whole, been too directed and linear an experience. It rarely gives you the chance to breathe, and while it does take advantage of that to provide several cool action scenes, I often feel like I’m observing it rather than playing it. This is an issue I didn’t have with The Walking Dead, for example, which let me explore its environments at will at regular intervals. Tales is talkier, faster, and rarely gives you the opportunity to simply walk around and poke the environment, which I consider a fairly crucial element of an adventure game.
That’s something I’d like to see improved in a sequel, but it’s more constructive criticism than pointing out an actual flaw. For the kind of experience Tales delivers, it does so as well as can possibly be imagined, and it’s a genuinely entertaining piece of work. If you can get invested in the characters and their bizarre circumstances, it’s a good use of your time.
If nothing else, I’ll say this: it was all worth it for the big scene that ends this episode, which has to be seen to be believed.
Reviewed By: Thomas Wilde
Publisher: Telltale Games
This review is based on a digital copy of Tales from the Borderlands, Episode 5: The Vault of the Traveler for the PC provided by Telltale Games.