At the very beginning of Tales From The Borderlands‘ first episode, the game’s omniscient narrator explains a little bit about narrative. While folks’ varying accounts of certain tales can become biased or subjective, our narrator calmly tells us that the beauty of a good story is that it will “remember both sides of the tale.” Now, as we cross the halfway point of Telltale’s latest interactive storyteller, it’s both refreshing and welcome to realize that the developers have kept this thought in their minds as the adventure has progressed.
From early in Zer0 Sum, players have been experiencing wacky adventures through the eyes of two protagonists, Rhys and Fiona. In the first two outings, this action was well spaced and evenly divided between the two, meaning that the most intriguing details of the story and its host of characters could always be fully realized. That trend continues with aplomb in Episode 3, and Catch A Ride delivers some of the series’ most tense moments to date.
Now that there is a clear goal in place, players will instantly find a welcome sense of direction once the action restarts inside Atlas’ hidden base. The tense showdown that brought the curtain down on Atlas Mugged continues immediately, with escape the only objective for the ragtag group. The threats are closing in thick and fast, and protecting the mysterious Gortys becomes a tough ask.
Once the early danger has passed and players have become fully acquainted with the simply adorable Gortys, the direction becomes clear for Rhys, Fiona and their growing group of fledgling Vault Hunters. And, as with Telltale’s other episodic titles, the interactions between players and their group continue to form the largest part of the the game’s activities and it remains vitally important that decisions are taken carefully and with a measured eye on just who an action could impact.
That being said, it certainly feels like this is Telltale’s most forgiving game in that regard, as a few of the decisions and dialogue choices that I regretted earlier in the series were undone by the opportunity to redeem myself with another option later on. This isn’t a bad thing, of course, and it actually speaks volumes of a more realistic and fluid approach to character relationships.
As players find their way across Pandora’s surface, things start to get more exciting and varied than the monotonous browns of the planet’s desserts. The journey moves swiftly through thick snow drifts and ice plains to take players into another Atlas facility, which presents the series’ most intriguing visuals so far.
Entering a dome full of glistening, frozen trees and dense plant life, the bursts of colour are a welcome change to the typical style. A few of these flashing colours and heavily populated areas did bring about a couple of minor drops in frame rate and texture quality, but it was never enough of a problem to detract from the experience.
What the addition of this new setting also does for the game is introduce a whole new set of challenges and obstacles for Rhys and Fiona to overcome. Both characters benefit from some interesting development in this episode as the game continues to mould them away from the stereotypical tropes they were when we were first introduced to them. Rhys finds some much needed depth and selflessness, and his continued interaction with a certain ‘mystery guest’ offers up some real intrigue. Fiona’s move toward a more aggressive, devil-may-care approach also grants her some really exciting sequences before the episode reaches its conclusion.
And what an end it turns out to be! Catch A Ride’s final moments will leave players crying out for more as a number of tense showdowns leave our heroes facing some pretty dire straits. The introduction of some even more ruthless and dastardly antagonists make the final quarter of this episode an absolute thrill ride, spanning the jungle floor and clambering up through its trees with frantic pacing. The last twenty minutes or so had me nothing short of mesmerized.
Catch A Ride is the strongest episode that Tales From The Borderlands has released so far, and with excitement, danger, emotion and humour all in abundance, Telltale’s winning formula continues to shine. There may be a few technical issues and performance problems along the way, but as the characters in this impressive cast are able to forgive the failings of the player, we’re able to overlook the minor flaws of a wonderful game. Catch A Ride is immense fun, and makes the wait for the series’ next episode even more unbearable.
This review is based on the PC version of the game, which was provided to us.
Catch A Ride is Tales from the Borderlands' most exciting episode thus far, and its tense finale certainly ramps up anticipation for future episodes.