Tales from the Borderlands: Episode 2 Review

SPOILERS: If you have not played Episode One then you may want to stop reading now.

Tales from the Borderlands Episode 2

The opening chapter of the Tales from the Borderlands series introduced us to Rhys, an ambitious Hyperion employee, and Fiona, the con-artist, and their quest for riches on the planet of Pandora along with their cohorts, Vasquez and Sasha. Episode 2 continues the retelling of Rhys and Fiona’s dual perspective of events as they are held captive by a mysterious masked man intent on getting answers for reasons unknown.

The end of Episode One revealed a bit of a plot twist in the appearance of a virtualized Handsome Jack unaware of his demise. The Tale continues after the discovery of a pair of strange artifacts that are somehow tied to Fiona and Rhys. These items lead our protagonists in quest of the mysterious ‘Gortys Project’ where they hope to find a vault key and the riches they greatly desire.

Tales from the Borderlands screenshot

Telltale’s games are primarily about choices and Tales from the Borderlands is no different. Decisions I have made from the first episode are already surfacing in this chapter and the weight of poor choices are becoming increasingly obvious, which is a real highlight of Episode 2. For example, our Loader Bot companion isn’t exactly on friendly terms with Rhys at the moment in my game. Revealing why would be too much of a spoiler, but I know exactly what I did (or rather, what I had Rhys do) in the first episode that caused this rift. Other relationships seem to have strengthened, or at least that is my impression. The game continues to tell me that whichever character I am interacting with "will remember that" and I rarely know for certain if that is a good thing.

This is all further complicated by the fact that I actually care about the characters. And I care about how they feel towards each other. Since I control either Fiona or Rhys at given times, one would think I would have more control in these personal matters, but the game cleverly creates consequential wedges in who to side with or give faith to. These are split-second decisions and the road ahead is always clouded with uncertainty and doubt.

Tales Borderlands Episode 2

Gameplay also shows improvement from the first episode. I previously complained about the contrived movement and the game’s lack of searching and exploring. The second chapter improves substantially with a greater sense of purpose in the interactions. The tasks are not difficult, but they are not obvious either. Action sequences are still entirely QTE driven except for the few "point and click" tasks that are a bit cumbersome with a controller. There doesn’t seem to be any consequence to missing with these, however. I noticed on many occasions where I failed to align the reticle with the target in time without any obvious consequence. My primary gripe about the game remains its ease. At no point did I die or have to perform a "do over".

Telltale certainly knows how to tell a story and the second chapter undoubtedly left me wanting more. Episode 2 did more than improve on its first chapter’s gameplay. The story added a plethora of mystery and intrigue. Who is this masked man? Friend or villain? What part does the virtualized Handsome Jack play in all this? What is this Gortys Project really? Episode 2 answered none of these questions, but this entertaining second act of five left me thirsty for revelations.



The Final Word

Despite the game’s ease, Tales from the Borderlands Episode Two continues its strong narrative with improved gameplay.