Tales from the Borderlands, Episode 2: Atlas Mugged
“Atlas Mugged” has a bit of the curse of the intermediate chapter. All the primary characters have been established, as well as their goals, and you’re well past the hook. Now it’s a question of getting them to where they’re trying to go, which means the plot has to take over for a bit. It also peaks before the opening credits, which is a bit of a problem.
Tales, at this point, seems to have established itself as a hell-for-leather ride through the post-Borderlands 2 Pandora, letting you poke around the lunatic universe Gearbox has established, with plenty of cameos and familiar faces.
What it isn’t, though, is much of a game. There are no failure states and the interactivity is limited to quick-time events, dialogue choices, and the very rare moment where it allows you to explore. Episode 2 flew by almost before I realized it was over, although part of that is because the starting sequence–a manic chase scene as the main characters escape from the stadium from the end of Episode 1–sets an impossible standard for the rest of the episode, and I felt as if I hadn’t actually done much of anything.
As such, Tales From the Borderlands is carried almost entirely on the strength of its writing, its cast, and the ways in which you can mess with the outcome, and it just about pulls it off. Almost every voice actor you’ve ever heard of is in this game somewhere (I guess they caught Steve Blum sleeping or something, or else he’d be in here as a random bandit), doing their usual solid work, and you can mess with the story’s outcome to a surprising degree.
Episode 2’s mostly setup, which isn’t to say it’s filler. You see some of the fallout from the confrontation between Fiona and Felix in the first episode, along with setting up some further mysteries about Felix himself; Rhys and his friend Vaughn shore up their relationship some; and a major character from Borderlands 2 comes back for the express purpose of stealing the show at every opportunity.
Tales from the Borderlands is a fun interactive movie, but it could do with a little more player input and less linearity. It’s supposed to be a game about exploring a quieter part of the Borderlands universe, but it never lets you explore. It’s a straight series of chases, choices, and dialogue. It could use a few puzzles, or at least obstacles without an obvious or immediate solution. There’s a chance that more of that will sneak in before the end of the game, but for now, Episode 2 feels like it largely played itself.
Reviewed By: Thomas Wilde
Publisher: Telltale Games
This review is based on a digital copy of Tales from the Borderlands, Episode 2: Atlas Mugged for the PC provided by Telltale Games.