Tales from the Borderlands – Episode 3: review

 Tales from the Borderlands Episode 3

Whilst it may not quite be hitting the standards of Valve time, Tales from the Borderlands Episode 3 seemed to take its sweet time getting here. A full three lunar cycles after we left our heroes in complete peril, we finally get to see how our concluding decision plays out in Catch a Ride. Obviously from here we’re in the prickly tundra of spoiler territory for Episodes One and Two, so if you haven’t played those yet, go back now!

Who you chose to trust at the end of Atlas Mugged heavily influences the opener for Episode 3, even though the two different branches quickly meet up on the same path again. For what it’s worth, we preferred the version where we trusted Jack for sheer spectacle and badassness, whilst Fiona’s plan lacks the punchiness and goes the slightly more subtle route. Still, it’s always nice to know that your decisions can drastically change the immediate outcome (even though the paths merge again within five minutes), something we feel has lacked slightly in other Telltale adventures.

Whichever route you go on, it leads to the introduction of a new big bad character who ends up causing you grief at several opportunities throughout Catch a Ride’s two hour play time. She’s a completely new character to the series, although seems a little copy-and-paste from The Big Book of Generic Small Screen Baddies. At least another psycho boss would have maintained the series of enemies who are as predictable as a bee in a washing machine.

 Tales from the Borderlands Episode 3

“Sweep us up in your arms, you jet-propelled steel prince”

From here things are a little more familiar again, with control shifting between Rhys and Fiona as they recap their story thus far to their shotgun-wielding masked captor. There’s a definite lull in the middle this time around. Whilst the dialogue and interaction between characters is still top notch, our heroes don’t seem to cover a lot of ground. You end up in another hidden research facility that has that ‘apocalypse grime’ look interior, which has become very familiar after the first two episodes. There also doesn’t seem to be much more use for Tales from the Borderlands’ slightly quirkier features, like Rhys’ robot eye and Fiona’s deep pockets.

In fact, at one stage we felt quite frustrated with the state of Fiona’s inventory. We won’t give much away, but remember that single bullet you started with and had the options to save or use? We enjoyed not knowing whether we were squandering ammo or taking the most important shot in the story. Well, limited ammunition no longer becomes an issue as you’re handed a crate of it, kind of taking away from some of the more interesting decisions the game could ask you to agonise over. Still, we won’t fret over it too much, as Telltale are generally good at stirring up difficult decisions out of anything; but it just seems like a wasted opportunity.

 Tales from the Borderlands Episode 3

Is it just us or does this look distinctively Iron Man-y?

Another frustration that gives us the grumbles is the slightly broken save system. Perhaps autosaves are just taken for granted these days, but we would assume that after a loading screen the game would save there and allow you to return to that point after a break from playing. Turns out we were wrong to assume such a thing as we lost a good 20 minutes worth of progress. Unlike other games that allow you to play things slightly differently on a revisit, the majority of the dialogue offered on this forced replay was stuff that we had already heard. It had that feeling of one big unskippable cutscene, which seems like a real shame considering the general quality of the scenes in Tales from the Borderlands.

The concluding quarter of the episode is fairly action packed with a generous helping of that ever brilliant Borderlands humour (we love everything Loader Bot says). Having said that, it still doesn’t quite live up to the concluding moments of the first episode, with Zer0 Sum’s madcap murder rally proving to be a lot more exciting than anything we’ve seen from the game since. It’s not that this series peaked too early as such; it’s just that the bar has been set high. Whilst a few moments have come close, nothing has been as consistently entertaining as the finale of episode one (nor have episodes two and three lasted as long).

 Tales from the Borderlands Episode 3

Do those arms look familiar to you?

One of our major points of praise from the first episode was how game-like certain sections were. There was a lot more interaction and some brilliantly used quick time events. Such things were reigned in a little for episode two, and episode three feels devoid of them in comparison. The two or three sections here are nothing like the loader bot brawl that made us giddy, or the adrenaline-spewing jumps between vehicles that had made us inch closer to our screens like it was a tense episode of our favourite show. This time around the offering was limp, and left us wanting a lot more hands-on elements.

Despite our selection of minor issues, Tales from the Borderlands is still keeping us entertained. We won’t lie, this has probably been our least favourite episode so far, but don’t take that entirely as a criticism. Every story needs a middle, and Catch a Ride serves up the perfect elements for that. We get a few new characters, a surprising cameo or two, and a new goal to focus on. Throw in a splutter of perfectly timed jokes at every turn and we’re confident you’ll find the fun in Tales from the Borderlands episode three. It’s just we’re now at a point where the story needs a badass psycho-sized bang to pick up the pace again.

critical score 7

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Written by Anthony H

Anthony has been playing games for far too much of his life, starting with the MS-DOS classic Mario is Missing. Since then his tastes have evolved to include just about anything, but his soft spot lies with shooters and the odd strategy game. Anthony will inspire you with his prose, uplift you with his wit and lie to you in his biography.

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