The final episode of Tales From the Borderlands is an accumulation of everything that makes Telltale games fantastic proving itself to not only be an incredible and deserving climax to the overall Tales From the Borderlands story, but an amazing entry into the episodic adventure genre. Despite this, with the conclusion of Life Is Strange and the first two episodes of Minecraft Story Mode now available, you can’t help but notice that Episode 5: The Vault of the Traveler is the weakest episodic entry released in the month of October.
Perhaps it’s a testament to Telltale’s constantly evolving and improving style, or Dontnod’s prolific command over story-driven gameplay in general, but it’s incredibly difficult not to compare Vault of the Traveler to other recent releases and emphasize its shortcomings as a result. Regardless, the conclusion to Tales From the Borderlands is fantastic in its own right.
Tales from the Borderlands – Episode 5: The Vault of the Traveler is easily the most emotional and hilarious leg of Fiona and Rhys’ journey. In a really impressive move, Telltale has managed to create an episode that, outside of major set pieces, almost entirely warps itself around your previous choices in the series. I restarted the episode with random choices a few different times and got some fairly substantial differences in the opening scenes.For example, in my full playthrough, everyone hated Rhys by the end, with almost everyone treating him viciously. However, in a random choice run, he was everyone’s best friend. What’s more, one particular character’s motivation changed and seemed like an entirely different character, and my conversations with this character were completely different.
In short, it’s amazing how many paths are available for you to explore, all leading to a referential battle that any self-proclaimed “90’s kid” will fall in love with immediately. While I would love to say more about it, it’s prudent that you experience it for yourself and not through a blurb of text. It’s that good.
Episode 5: The Vault of the Traveler still suffers from a problem that has plagued the series since the beginning. In the two hours it takes to complete, it feels like only 10 – 20 minutes are actually dedicated to gameplay, not counting conversations. As someone who grew up on the point and click adventure games that originally inspired Telltale’s games, I’m left with a fairly empty interactive experience. Players who enjoy the storytelling over the gameplay, however, will most likely enjoy it that much more.
Episode 5: The Vault of the Traveler licensed theme song is also somewhat out of character for the series. It’s pretty easy to see (or hear) what they’re going for, and it’s not a bad song on its own. It just feels totally outside of the box that previous title sequences created. Fortunately, the ending sequence’s theme is much more fitting for the series.
Despite these gripes, Tales from the Borderlands – Episode 5: The Vault of the Traveler gloriously wraps up one of Telltale’s best stories. Any fans of the series will be left feeling satisfied. For everyone else, Tales from the Borderlands – Episode 5: The Vault of the Traveler is an excellent addition to any library as one of the funniest and most enjoyable adventure games since the Lucas Arts days of old.
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