HomeReviews2.5/5 ReviewNew Tales from the Borderlands Review

New Tales from the Borderlands Review


Tales from the Borderlands. What a blast that was back in the day, with Telltale Games doing a smashing job bringing the Borderlands universe to life in their episodic adventure format. An adventure which created long-lasting memories and thus helped generate excitement as Gearbox Software primed to unveil a spiritual successor in the form of New Tales from the Borderlands. It’s a new cast, a new story, but with the classic Borderlands humour, so New Tales from the Borderlands is going to be a totally rad offering, right?

Heck no. Sadly it’s too late for me now, but there’s still time for you to avoid desecrating your fond memories with New Tales from the Borderlands. For everyone else, any redeemable qualities it possesses are quite hard to see over the many, many flaws.

New Tales from the Borderlands Anu

New Tales from the Borderlands is a five-part narrative adventure, where your choices are expected to divert the storytelling towards certain junctures. While technically split into five episodes, the entire tale is ready and raring to go from the moment you settle down to get stuck in. Whether that’s a good thing, I’m not so sure.

There are three playable protagonists at the heart of proceedings: the socially awkward yet scientifically brilliant Dr. Anu; the streetwise Octavio, Anu’s brother who’s hungry for fame and short on brains; and the frogurt maker with a hot-head, Fran. Separately, they’re absolute losers with very little to show for their life’s work, but together… well… okay they’re still hopeless. A common goal unites their efforts though, as rumours of a Vault on Promethea may hold the key to changing the world and their lives forever. That’s if the corporate scumbags at Tediore don’t get their filthy hands on it first, of course.

As far as main characters go this trio do themselves no favours; particularly in regards to personality and overall substance as humans. The idiotic nature of Octavio isn’t endearing in the slightest, so you can’t even laugh off the pure stupidity he possesses. It’s not just the things he says, but also that his actions are beyond the realm of regular buffoonery. And then there’s Fran, who ruins any chance of being likeable through the sheer unnecessary letching over anything with a pulse. That leaves Anu to step in and be the ‘hero’, but she’s not a strong enough character to pull it off.

Furthermore, it’s incredibly difficult to become attached or take a liking to any of the supporting cast, which is perhaps due to a lack of commitment to developing their arcs. Introducing folks and then whisking them away to rarely be seen again is a strange move, but that happens to quite a few of the protagonists’ acquaintances. The only real mainstay is LOU13, an assassination bot who provides much needed dry humour to remind you that the adventure is supposed to be fun. 

Actually investing in the narrative is difficult without getting behind any of the tedious trio, however you can usually bank on a credible villain to push you through, armed with the hope of sabotaging their devious plans. The big bad, Susan Coldwell, is a generic CEO that’s devoid of credibility and charisma, meaning you’ll not care one jot whether she succeeds or fails. So, how on earth can you get more involved in the story that’s unfolding?

Well, you can attempt to put your stamp on proceedings via the old choice system as various responses will pop up on-screen to pick from, but the options are consistently lacklustre. What this results in is five laborious episodes seeing you trudging towards a climax, with scenes often drawn out for longer than necessary. The amount of times the group is gathered in a location, going on and on without getting anywhere, is ridiculous. 

Outside of the choice-based conversations, there are a variety of activities vying for your inputs. Should you enjoy a good Quick-Time Event, these occur frequently and require a whole host of different button presses. From mashing and holding specific buttons, to correctly inputting lengthy combinations, the QTE game is strong. Whether used for a fight scene or as part of a hacking mini-game, it does the job as intended. Most impressively however is the thought that has gone into the accessibility factor for such actions, ensuring settings can be tweaked to suit different player needs. 

Another neat idea in New Tales from the Borderlands is the all-out warfare of Vaultlanders. Essentially, it’s a mini-game where plastic figures whack each other until the health bar of the opponent is fully depleted. Winning battles enables you to collect plastic figurines to use in future conflicts which arise at the most random moments throughout the story. The relative easiness of the mini-game is a small drawback for a decent little distraction from the general monotony. 

Moving on though, and the audio of New Tales from the Borderlands is another disappointing aspect. The voiceovers are nothing to write home about, with only the sentient robots delivering noteworthy performances full of personality. In terms of music, there’s a bizarre disconnect between the tracks and the antics being portrayed before your very eyes – they just don’t tie in well together in the slightest. If you’re looking for memorable montages, you won’t find them here.

Ultimately, New Tales from the Borderlands takes the core structure of what makes a Telltale game so good, but forgets to flesh it out with an interesting cast, intriguing narrative, or a reason to care. The humour misses the mark far too often, leaving a hefty burden for any potential laughs to come from the bots and LOU13 in particular. Putting QTEs and mini-games aside, there’s just not enough going on here to consider New Tales from the Borderlands as an enjoyable adventure. 

Save the world? Let it suffer? Who cares?

New Tales from the Borderlands is now available on the Xbox Store

James Birks
James Birks
Been gaming casually since the SNES as a youngster but found my true passion for games on the Playstation 1 (the forbidden word ooo). My addiction grew to its pinnacle with the purchase of an Xbox 360 & Xbox Live Service. A recovering GS hunter that will still play literally any game.
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