There is a point in a game sometimes and you are sure it’s going to end prematurely. Anyone that is playing all five episodes of Tales from the Borderlands probably has some general idea of how Rhys and Fiona’s journey ends. Chances are that you are probably wrong. The fifth episode of Tales from the Borderlands is the best entry in the series and everything comes around full circle.
Visually speaking, the first half of the episode that deals with the gang on the Hyperion space station, Helios from the Pre-Sequel, is the most engaging and well directed. Going through the space station was engaging from all aspects no matter which character you are following. It is beautiful as it is visceral as Handsome Jack, a program at this point, takes the main characters through Hell and back.
Fans of the Borderlands series may find fault in Jacks character this time around. We know him as a sardonic psychopath that wants nothing more than to be the lead or whatever surrounds him. There are moments in this episode that humanizes Jack. This of course is not the first time we have seen this as he also had a moment in Borderlands 2 and Telltale does what they do best by making us sympathize with our characters, and while we love Jack as the villain, there needs to be a genesis of why he is who he is, or at the least some reflection and admittance of his faults. It was nice to see Handsome Jack one last time and there can always be some way to bring him back. However, the series needs to move on and if he never comes back to the series, this was a nice story to have him in.
If there is any issue with the fifth episode, it would be that pacing in the middle. After about the first hour, the player input is almost non-existent. You will be just watching the story and the upcoming scenario play out until the beginning of the final act, which is where some of your choices from the previous episodes come into play.
Hopefully you have chosen wisely with your character interactions in the last four episodes as they do matter when you are put in the position to pick out a second team for the final mission. Depending on your actions, it will dictate who you can choose from the cast of side characters along the way. Admittedly, it probably won’t make a difference who you choose in the long run as you can get to the end of the game regardless; the ending fight may just change a bit.
The battle at the end is cheesy, but if you are a fan of pop culture then you may find it pleasing in the end as the gang you pick does their best Voltron or Power Rangers impression. There is no doubt that the writers knew what they were doing and who their demographic is and the way the battle plays out is still satisfying none the less.
The ending to Tales from the Borderlands may bring about a “love it or hate it” mentality for some and will probably bring up more questions than answers. It would be nice to say that there will be a second season of Tales from the Borderlands to continue any possible story that may involve Rhys and Fiona, but there may not be a reason for one and even if they do, it may involve a new set of characters.
The art direction and writing in the fifth and last episode of Tales from the Borderlands may be the best out of the episodes. Everything we know about Borderlands whether it’s the Vaults, the monsters, the double crossing, or even the robots, are all there. The voice acting is still some of the best this year thanks to Troy Baker, Nolan North, Chris Hardwick, Dave Fennoy, Laura Bailey and Erin Yvette, just to name a few.
The flashback plot device that has been used to tell the story thus far comes to an end in the middle of the episode with pleasing results that explains what the whole point of Rhys and Fiona being captured in the first place, which makes the last part of the game very surprising. At the very least, Telltale had a system in place to where the choices do matter in a sense, but ultimately there is no real consequence no matter what, so the replay value for this series is extremely low. Hopefully you scavenged the area for some coins over the last four episodes as there may be a surprise, if the money is right that is.
As far as this particular series as a whole is concerned, Telltale has spun a story by incorporating what fans know and keeping the wit and violence that fans love. Even more impressive that they took a series that is revered for those things, but added a story and dialogue with a lot of heart to it. We tend to look at the characters as snarky, greedy, violent people…which they are, but there is also room for character development along with a team friendship angle to compliment it. Hopefully we get another season of Tales from the Borderlands, but even if we don’t maybe Gearbox can incorporate what Telltale has done with character development into the next game in the series…or they can just keep going with the witty banter, shooting, and bloody violence.
We’ll probably play it either way.