New Tales from the Borderlands — Borderline Borderlands

I adored the original Tales from the Borderlands. It’s one of TellTale’s best works with heart and humor in equal measure. Sure it wasn’t perfect, especially with regards to choices having impact, but it was still an incredibly enjoyable narrative adventure game. Naturally, then, I was very excited for the new Tales from the Borderlands… appropriately titled New Tales from the Borderlands. I heard about its announcement, then it felt like it suddenly released. So let’s go in with no expectations and see how it is.

New Tales from the Borderlands follows Anu, Octavio, and Fran on the planet of Promethea. The game is episodic, just like the original, with quick time events, minigames, and dialogue choices determining the course of the story. Anu is a scientist working for Atlus, Octavio is her younger (adoptive) brother trying to make it as an entrepreneur, and Fran runs a Froyo shop. Through various circumstances, the three come together, plunder a vault, and discover a mysterious healing shard that speaks to Anu. Each episode focuses on a different endeavor, with the first introducing the characters and world, the second taking place in the vault, the third being an episode of Shark Tank, and so on.

New Tales from the Borderlands Episode 1 Full Playthrough - PC [Gaming Trend]

A game like this lives or dies by its character and story, and I’m sad to say both are abysmal. The main trio is poorly defined and often act out of what little character they actually have. I get that the Borderlands universe is zany and out there, but nothing anyone did in this game felt like it had any motivation behind it other than to make a bad joke or move the story along. I’m someone who really enjoys the writing in Borderlands games, but it feels like they took the criticisms others make about the games and… did exactly what people don’t like. It’s also just incredibly boring. I finished the game in three or four sittings, and I can barely remember what happened outside of the beginning, the part where they shoot each other for fun, and the ending that might have changed due to some choices? The three most interesting characters to me were Fran, L0U13, and Stapleface, with the latter two being side characters. I found Anu tolerable and Octavio insufferable for the most part, but while playing the game I felt like I was falling asleep. There were certainly a few jokes that made me chuckle, like the Tediore soldier who would appear in random places to challenge you to Vaultlanders, but a few good gags can’t carry what’s otherwise an unfocused and confusing plot.

Speaking of Vaultlanders, that’s one of the minigames you’ll encounter throughout the game. These are mostly just gags, like Anu’s ability to science slap things to make them work or a random DDR minigame for your sexy unpaid intern, but Vaultlanders is the most common. There are collectable figures throughout the game referencing characters from the franchise like Handsome Jack, Amara, and Brick. You choose a figure, then mash A until your opponent dies, occasionally performing QTEs to avoid attacks. None of the minigames are interesting or engaging in any way, but I did enjoy seeing characters I liked in figure form.

If you’re hoping to see characters from the first Tales from game return here, you may be disappointed. Rhys appears in episode 1 and is voiced by Ray Chase after replacing Troy Baker. Laura Bailey’s Fiona does return but only in voice over form and right before the credits. I’d also like to say the new actors do a great job with what they’re given, and I’d be willing to chalk up any weird lines to direction. As good as the voice performances are though, I just can’t get past the issues described above. The motion capture is also excellent when it’s used, with great facial expressions, some sight gags in the background, and other subtle details the technology affords. The game is gorgeous on top of that, with incredibly colorful and polished visuals. The PC version doesn’t afford many options (and for some reason lacks cloud saves on Steam), but if you can run it at the highest quality it’s nice to look at.

I also appreciate that the game is very diverse, with multiple queer and/or POC characters. Fran’s hoverchair is cool to see too, and with or without it she’s a badass. If there’s one thing I hope other studios learn from Borderlands it’s that not every character you make has to be cis, white, able bodied, or straight.

I’m trying my best to be positive here, because this game was made by a clearly passionate team during a global pandemic, but it’s just not very good or even average. It’s confusing and messy in ways that feel like they could and should have been avoided, especially with just how many names are in the credits. It feels like nothing you or the character does matters and you’re just killing time for about 10 hours. In a very appropriate glitch, the game also didn’t save after completing the final episode, so I can’t view my ending choices.

David is the kind of person to wear his heart on his sleeve. He can find positives in anything, like this is a person who loved Star Fox Zero to death. You’ll see him playing all kinds of games: AAAs, Indies, game jam games, games of all genres, and writing about them! Here. On this website. When not writing or playing games, you can find David making music, games, or enjoying a good book.
David’s favorite games include NieR: Automata, Mother 3, and Gravity Rush.


Below Average

New Tales from the Borderlands

Review Guidelines

New Tales from the Borderlands is confusing, messy, and accomplishes nothing over the course of 10 hours. The game meanders from incident to incident hoping you’ll laugh at a constant barrage of bad jokes, and lacks any heart.

David Flynn

Unless otherwise stated, the product in this article was provided for review purposes.

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