Tales from the Borderlands welcomes you back to Pandora in the hilarious first episode, Zer0 Sum. Telltale easily adapted their amazing graphic adventure style to the gritty, cell shaded world of Pandora.
Taking place after the events of Borderlands 2, Tales from the Borderlands chronicles the hijinks of Rhys and Fiona. Eager to fill Handsome Jack’s shoes, Rhys is willing to do almost anything to get ahead at Hyperion.
Fiona, and her sister Sasha, grew up alone on Pandora and work as con artists together. Alternating between Rhys’ and Fiona’s perspectives, the player learns and influences the events that brought these very disparate people together.
Zer0 Sum begins with both characters tied up and forced to relay the events leading up to this moment. Unlike other Telltale games, players control two characters. This creates the unique opportunity of influencing the game in more ways.
The developers also designed unique interfaces for each character to lessen confusion as to which character a player is controlling. By starting at the end and retelling the story, Telltale sets a perfect stage for players to develop these characters. The backwards, Tarantino-esque story telling is fun and interesting, as well as an excellent plot device to switch between the two perspectives.
Dialogue in this game is the star. Telltale and Gearbox understand the strengths of Borderlands and the writing is better than ever. The voice actors knock it out of the park with delivery and there are many notable names. Zer0 Sum created high expectations for future episodes.
The game mechanics are similar to previous Telltale games. There is a lot of style and design added to the interface, depending on which character’s perspective it is. Rhys’s cybernetic eye is a nice addition to the game.
During his free movement sections, players can scan the area to learn more information about certain objects. In this episode, scanning rarely seemed to lead to significant information; nonetheless, this addition has great potential for the future.
The only disappointment of Zer0 Sum was the lack of free movement and exploration. I enjoy moving around and investigating the various objects that populate a world, and I didn’t get to do that often in this episode. Nonetheless, it is hard to hold that against the game for a few reasons.
One major reason is the gameplay appears to be directed towards more action and fighting sequences rather than investigation. Completely logical given the storyline, setting, and characters. Also, this is only episode one. With four more episodes to come, there will be plenty of opportunities for me to walk around scanning everything with Rhys’s cyber eye.
Zer0 Sum is a hilarious and engaging start to Tales from the Borderlands. The gameplay is fun and familiar which introducing some new features. The writing is amazing and the voice acting really hits it home. Hopefully, future episodes will have more opportunities to explore the areas. Zer0 Sum establishes high expectations for the following Tales from the Borderlands episodes.
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