As part of Gamereactor UK's new policy towards episodic titles, we'll discuss individual episodes as they release but leave a final roundup verdict until the entire season is completed. As a reflection on that, these recaps will also pinpoint the strongest and weakest elements we found in each episode, and as such contain spoilers.
We had to wait just over three months for the second episode of Telltale Games' Tales from the Borderlands. Excruciating, especially given the first episode showed such promise and potential. But now that "Atlas mugged" has finally arrived we were naturally all the more eager to find out what Rhys and Fiona had been up to.
One of the main treats of Tales from the Borderlands is the narrative device where the story is retold by main characters Rhys and Fiona - they're not always going to be truthful - especially not since they're being forced to tell their story by an unknown armed captor. It makes for an interesting twist, even if this device isn't used to as great effect in this the second episode as it was in the first.
The pacing is kept up throughout the adventure that is split roughly in two halves where control Rhys (who's teamed with Vaughn) and Fiona (with Sasha). Each duo runs in to one problem after another, whether it's due to Vasquez or Handsome Jack (actually he's mostly helpful) for Rhys or bounty hunters and August for Fiona.
Guns are being pointed at pretty much everyone, the plot gets even more twisted, and at the end we're treated to another massive cliffhanger. Hopefully it won't be another three months until episode three drops.
As you may recall from episode one, Rhys got a whole lot of data uploaded into his brain, and as we learned towards the end of episode one the data came with a bit of a stowaway passenger in the shape of Handsome Jack who appears as a hologram only Rhys can hear and see. It adds a layer of comedy and creates for even more duality in Rhys' life - as if clashing heads with the rest of the cast wasn't enough. Naturally, Handsome Jack takes centre stage and becomes the focal point of the episode.
There isn't as much exploration and optional conversations in Tales from the Borderlands compared to similar games and that serves to help keep the pace high. We don't really mind it. There's always Rhys' ability to use his cybernetic eye to scan the environment for additional tidbits. In fact, you won't find many choices where you're not under time pressure to make a decision. There is loot however, and one of the ways in which we could use the credits we'd collected thus far was to pimp Fiona's ride.
There are a lot of characters in Tales from the Borderlands. And the size of the cast grew a lot with the second episode. There were one and a half pair of bounty hunters chasing Fiona and Sasha, there was your friendly neighbourhood mechanic Scooter, Handsome Jack, and we were also given a tease of Valory - who we think may be the missing component in Felix, Fiona and Sasha's dysfunctional family unit.
We don't know exactly how they fit together, but there certainly appears to be some history there. The gallery of characters is excellent, even some naturally aren't fully fleshed out as they have smaller parts to play.
Overall, the second episode didn't quite pack the same punch as the first one. Then again the first episode blew us away with its brilliant use of the narrative device and explosive plot twists. Here it felt more like your standard Telltale style episodic adventure split up between the two main characters. Then again not overdoing the "big fish tale" character of the story may serve the overall story arc in the long run. Nevertheless, the way it ended we cannot wait to see how the rest of this adventure plays out.
We reviewed the first episode of Tales from the Borderlands (with score and all) over here - from here on we'll review each episode with this kind of recap and then we'll review the full season (with a score) as it concludes.
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