Tales From the Borderlands Episode 3 Review | Sliding Sideways

Tales From the Borderlands

Tales From the Borderlands limps through its median episode with technical issues peppering an otherwise humorous and emotional entry.

Telltale Games has a bit of a reputation at this point for placing story ahead of gameplay and just about any other piece of a traditional game tapestry. Story, as a result, seems like a constant plus with every episode since the original Walking Dead season; meanwhile, gameplay segments and other technical happenings are allowed to twist in the breeze to an extent, varying wildly from episode to episode in any of their franchises.

Tales From the Borderlands

Catch-A-Ride, which follows Rhys and Fiona out of their episode two debacle and into one of two main branching paths, seems to be the buggiest episode of anything Telltale has ever put out. An early segment that some may never see depending on their ultimate choice in episode two glitched hard over a game over screen, instantly placing Fiona back at the start of a hallway while Rhys continued to fight someone as if the game over had never happened. While that fight continued, another copy of his model was flashing in and out of existence while being silently guided to his counterpart wherein the world seemed to become one again.

Even a highlight of previous Tales From the Borderlands episodes – the stylish, thematic opening – loaded and played with no character models. Various objects flew around while the RV appeared to drive itself until the models popped in again after the cinematic had concluded. Even a second play through yielded lengthy, almost-crashing segues between camera angles time after time again while some actions that require timing to pull off successfully went overlapped. Some dialogue options took part of the apparent timer to load into existence, forcing quite a few quick reads during splitting decisions.

This Tales From the Borderlands episode does, however, have some spots that feel bright, such as the joy that is witnessing the characters finally stop and breathe. A slow walk between two characters is one of the episode highlights when both of them realize the whirlwind of changes that seems to have sprung up in their time together while a certain Vault Hunter takes on a mentor position, also unlocking unseen avenues of conversation. A lot of people will want to focus on these moments, not the graphical stutters that seem to plague Telltale’s aging game engine.

Tales From the Borderlands

Gameplay seems a bit more involved in this Tales From the Borderlands entry with a certain obstacle having one specific approach. Most of said gameplay actually services Fiona’s story as she is often tasked with using her cleverness to take on certain situations whereas Rhys is just capable of swinging a mean bat and using his own augmentations.

Gortys is a new team member in Catch-A-Ride, and might be the best original character introduced so far. The innocence and honesty this character displays is purposed to be in direct contrast with the salty, sarcastic nature of the rest of the crew, which the game itself points out. The combination feels needed in a world like Pandora where just about everyone is a mercenary looking to kill anything around, and it’s a combination that will stick around—hopefully!—until the end of the line.

Tales From the Borderlands still has what it seems to do well in episode three, but it’s just buried by marring graphical and technical issues that showcase the worst Telltale has to offer in those areas. Gortys and some calm, slightly-emotional chats between characters bring the episode to a spot where the gang is behind the 8-ball by the end, and where they can go nowhere but up for their next chapter.

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