I’d never had the opportunity to indulge in myself into Gearbox Software’s Borderlands but had always heard good things, so when the opportunity came up to experience Pandora for the first time I couldn’t let it slide.
Now this isn’t technically a typical video game, this is a story told by Telltale Games (in partnership with Gearbox Software and 2K Games), the same developers that brought you the Walking Dead Season 1 & 2. If you’re looking to lose yourself in an open world game this is simply not it! However if you’re a fan of storytelling, Borderlands and outrageous comedy, then this is something you will want to experience.
This is only episode 1 with further episodes being delivered in coming months, the chapter being named ‘Zer0 Sum’ due to a recurring character you come across, you guessed it, Zer0! A vault hunter, not to worry, I won’t be giving away any spoilers! You follow the story of Rhys – a Hyperion (space station dwelling corporates) employee that gets stitched up by his new boss – and Fiona, a Pandora denizen raised on a life of crime who tries to organize a more than shady deal. What I enjoyed the most about this experience was the tongue in cheek comedy; the characters never seem to take themselves too seriously and even when they probably should, I found myself more than once laughing out loud.
Another aspect that was well worked is the diverse range characters, most of the main figures were memorable for one reason or another, my favourite was definitely Bossanova! (The main antagonist) You’ll see why! The main protagonist’s Rhys and Fiona were likeable and relatable, but you will find yourself connecting with certain characters more than others, I didn’t go much on Fiona’s sister to be honest but then you may, I just found her a bit bland and not really offering much to the storyline.
The visuals are great! Graphically it’s your typical Borderlands game, with the immediately identifiable comic book art style, some may have been put off by this diverse style in the past but please don’t be, it really does make a refreshing and enjoyable change. Due to the artwork style you see a good level of violence and blood that, at times, can be a bit taboo.
When it comes to difficulty settings there isn’t one, it’s very simple when you are asked to engage in the storyline, tips and instructions are always present on the HUB, again its more about the story than the player trying to overcome a challenge.
The controls are easy enough, to select a response to a situation your asked to press just one button on your pad that is next to your chosen line along with a timer, you’ve not got all day you know! and brief use of the analog sticks, there’s not much of a learning curve at all.
It’s not all sunshine and roses though, yes, honestly I wasn’t too sure what to expect but I was hoping for more engaging gameplay. I was expecting to have full control of the character at all times but it’s more narrative gameplay than engaging, your job as a player is to make choices of what’s said and done when presented with multiple choices that will impact the game, and what happens at a later time. On occasion you did get brief control of the protagonists in a 3rd person manner, but I found it very ‘stiff’ and awkward. This would normally occur when you needed to acquire some funds and items or a very slight bit of puzzle solving (only on one bit I recall), less than inspiring. I do have an aspect of gameplay to praise however, when playing Rhys and you had that brief control, his cybernetic eye that gave you the ability to interact with objects for information was innovative and enjoyed the comedy it brought.
Moving onto re-playability, now due to the fact you are presented with various multiple choices throughout and that they do impact the storyline and what your shown, it does offer you the opportunity to do ‘What if I said this, or done this?’. So it will draw you back in that respect, however, the overall storyline will take you to the same place just with a different route.
What Telltale games has done, is engage me in a more than enjoyable storyline with plots & twists and more importantly, the need to explore Pandora further. I’m looking forward to episode 2 and if we are ever graced with Borderlands 3 it would be a day 1 purchase, fingers crossed!
Overall, I was hoping for more from this single player experience, the comedy, voice acting and storyline was spot on for me but the brief glimpses of traditional gameplay were too few and far between. If your hoping for gun wielding action game where you slaughter your was across Pandora then this may not be the experience you may be hoping for, but it’s exactly that, an experience rather than a game. Just kick back and enjoy the tales from the Borderlands.
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