Review: New Tales from the Borderlands
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An underdog story is a great way to tug at someone’s heartstrings. Consequently, no matter how cold and callous you are, you secretly want them to break free from their rut, and succeed at least once in their lives. This possibility arises in New stories from the borderland. It is a narrative story that is full of humorous and crazy cinematography. Consequently, it takes you on a strange journey full of wonder and familiar surroundings.
Developed by GEARBOX and published by 2K, this is a fun and dark narrative-focused adventure title. Moreover, it captures many of the much-loved elements from the main series, while delivering something completely unique. Filled with QTEs, mini-games and crazy text, it keeps Borderlands charm, while delivering a fantastic stand-alone experience. Unlike the 2014/15 predecessor from Telltale game, this is much more intelligent and sophisticated. Also, it couldn’t be further from the classic shooter that we’ve all grown to love. However, its well-timed plot, interesting characters and moralistic choices are exciting and silly and offer plenty of replay value.
New Tales of Borderlands: new story, similar setting.
If you love the franchise, you’ll know that the bleak Borderlands the world is a bit run down. Criminals run wild, and you’re pretty much free to do what you want, when you want. Nevertheless, there is still some order in this chaos thanks to the indulgent and all-seeing companies. Unfortunately, there is little room for underdogs, as you will soon find out. You control 3 of life’s biggest losers who have ambitions to change their lifestyle. Unfortunately, however, the system will not allow this to happen and they must stand up and be counted if they want to make a difference.
Set over 5 different chapters, you alternate between 3 low-key but interesting protagonists. First there is Anu. She is a pacifist scientist who ironically works for Atlas. Why is this ironic? Well, Atlas is one of the largest arms manufacturers in the country Borderlands universe. Second, you control Octavio. He is a streetwise young man who has dreams of becoming the next big thing. Finally, there is Fran. A restaurant owner who owes too much money but has a bad hover chair that is filled with deadly weapons.
Each of these personalities is set perfectly in the narrative and cinematic heavy game. The slow pace and often methodical action is characterized by film sequences, fast time events and the odd moralistic dilemma. As such, you feel more like a voyeur than a key player in this unsubtle but comical game.
3 players, unique abilities and Vaultlander toys.
ONE Borderlands the game would be total nonsense if the main characters were weak and unremarkable. Fortunately, the 3 heroes have unique abilities that are central to the progress of the story. Anu uses her special glasses to scan for hidden objects and other scientific tasks. Fran’s chair can freeze things with the push of a button, and the robotic prosthesis is a great defensive tool. Finally, Octavio is quite the talker and can hack electronic devices with his wristwatch.
These abilities are perfectly synchronized with the interesting, if predictable QTEs! Push the analog stick in the right direction or hit each button before the timer runs out. Each of these elements is fairly well established and lacks any originality. However, I enjoyed the occasional teams of shooting, the odd boss fight and the mini-games you have to complete.
Each of these activities lack challenges, but are still fun. Octavio has a hacking game to sink his teeth into, while there are plenty of sequence-based challenges that require quick reactions and accuracy. This is most evident in the Vaultlander combat encounters. During each chapter you will undertake a button bashing event which is unfortunately far too easy. With little effort, you will overcome any opponent and move on with your life. This was disappointing, as it had the potential to add a challenging distraction from the harrowing yet enjoyable plot that unravels. Unfortunately, this never happened and you want something that pushes you a little harder.
New stories from the borderland look amazing.
When a game focuses on slow and demanding action, the visuals have to be on point. Fortunately, the cartoon styling and excellent steampunk approach is incredible. On top of this comes the classic cartoon art, the rich color palette and the striking and easy-to-read dialogue. Furthermore, fans of the franchise will recognize many key elements from the shooter looter series. With loot boxes to open, terrible cities to explore, and the usual grunts to fight, the familiar graphics were greatly appreciated.
Alongside this, the excellent sound sets the scene. With incredible acting, fantastic music and excellent sound effects, the gruesome atmosphere is well set. Furthermore, when a game relies on the cinematics, it needs to be on point with the audio. Fortunately, it delivers on every element, and this produces a fun, yet dramatic, final product.
An excellent user interface and responsive controls.
QTE adds pressure to any gaming experience. Therefore, you want responsive controls that work immediately. Luckily, that’s exactly what you’re getting New stories from the borderland. With plenty of advance warning, you know which button to press at any given time. Consequently, fast input ensures that errors are reduced. However, the slow gameplay and ample recording time reduce the stress and make this an easy title to play.
When there are multiple story branches and moralistic choices on offer, the replay value is at its peak. Unfortunately, its roughly 10-hour playtime and £35 price tag prevent this from being really good value for money. Then new players to this genre can look elsewhere, and this is a shame.
New stories from the borderland delivers what is expected.
I enjoyed 2014/15 Tales from the borderland game. As such, I couldn’t wait to see how the second part would develop. Fortunately, the developers have done a fantastic job with practically every layer. Aesthetically, it’s stunning, smooth and trouble-free. Furthermore, it is sprinkled with humor; it’s easy to play and the QTEs are fun if not a little too easy. Disappointingly, though, it’s not long enough, and the Vaultlander battles aren’t challenging enough. Nevertheless, it’s still a great experience and I recommend you buy it here! Will you help each protagonist redeem themselves? Explore the gloomy world, uncover its secrets and fulfill your dreams.