Tales from the Borderlands: Episode 1 Zero Sum Review – HTG
Tales from the Borderlands is the latest game from Telltale games, the makers of the Walking Dead and the Wolf Among Us series. Tales from the Borderlands follows the same episodic format as Telltale’s previous games, 5 episodes coming 2-3 months apart, except this time we are in the Borderlands universe. While this game does take place in the Borderlands universe, you will be playing as some never before seen characters, playing events that take place after those of Borderlands 2. If you haven’t played any Borderlands games before you can get through Tales from the Borderlands without missing too much but the story and game is truly great if you know at least the basics of the Borderlands story, so get to reading if you need to, you won’t regret it. For a full playthrough of the episode you watch the videos at the bottom of the page.
As previously stated Tales from the Borderlands takes place after the events of Borderlands 2. For those of you that haven’t been keeping up with the Borderlands franchise the games story wise go in this order: Borderlands, Borderlands the Pre-Sequel, Borderlands 2, and finally Tales from the Borderlands. If you haven’t played any of the Borderlands then you won’t fully understand or appreciate the story or experience but you can still have a memorable experience. Certain characters are referenced or make appearances that you won’t understand without having a basic knowledge of Borderlands lore, but Tales from the Borderlands does an excellent job of filling you in rather quickly either by inspecting items or through story dialogue. I still recommend that you play all of the Borderlands games though, especially 1 and 2, as it makes Tales from the Borderlands that much better. Normally in Telltale’s games you play as one character from their point of view, but this time we get to see the story from two different perspectives which makes this game even more spectacular and helps you to appreciate all of the characters more. Zero Sum plays out almost like a movie making it not only fun to play, but also incredibly fun to just sit and watch. Tales from the Borderlands may just be the beginning of Telltale’s best story to date.
When we played through Tales from the Borderlands we played it on PS4 and it really showed. The graphics were pretty amazing and I had none of the usual Telltale graphical issues that have plagued their past games. If you have played any of the previous Borderlands games then you will be familiar with the cartoony, artistic, Borderlands universe graphics. If you haven’t the graphics can be a little jarring at first, but once you adjust you will start to love them. Telltale worked directly with Gearbox, the makers of Borderlands, to ensure that everything felt like Borderlands, and the graphics are no different. From the second the game starts you would have no idea you weren’t playing a regular Borderlands game which makes it feel very fluid and continuous, especially after having played the Pre-Sequel. The graphics are just another reminder that this game is part of a bigger universe that already exists, and they did a great job in that respect. Playing through the episode it was always a reminder that there were bigger and better things to come.
The audio in this game is another area where Tales from the Borderlands really shines. The voice acting in Tales from the Borderlands is absolutely phenomenal with stars like Troy Baker, Nolan North, Chris Hardwick, Patrick Warburton, and Laura Bailey lending their voices. If you’ve played any video game in the last few years you have more than likely heard at least three of those voices even if you didn’t know it was them. Patrick Warburton you probably recognize from TV/Movies having appeared in Seinfeld, starring in Rules of Engagement and the Tick, or as Joe from Family Guy. Chris Hardwick you may know from the Nerdist or as the host of The Talking Dead which airs after, you guessed it, the Walking Dead. All of these actors do a fantastic job as usual and really make this game what it is, absolutely freakin’ hilarious. Tales from the Borderlands is one of Telltales funniest games to date and the excellent cast surely helps. Outside of the voice acting, the game still sounds amazing with every noise sounding just as it should, from the guns to vehicle noises sounding completely authentic.
Normally Telltale episodes can be completed in 60-90 minutes but Zero Sum will take players 2 to 2.5 hours to complete. Telltale games have always been worth their price, but now with an extra hour or more of content, presumably per episode, the price is almost too good. The only downside is after 2 hours in this world I wanted nothing but more of it and with episode 2 a month or more away it will be hard to get through it. Tales from the Borderlands plays slightly different from the usual Telltale game though. Normally there is an area to walk around in with something to figure out or people to talk to, in Zero Sum this is almost non existent. The entire story is almost strictly dialogue and cutscenes with a few very small areas to explore. While this may come across as a bad thing it definitely isn’t. The small areas with little interaction allows the story to be pushed along at a faster pace and allows the laughs and excitement to come much quicker than usual. Ironically the few small areas you can explore almost kill the momentum of the story, almost. This is only negated by the fact that you can inspect items around you, and the descriptions that are provided on items are absolutely amazing. I have never been the type of gamer to inspect and read every bit of text, but Tales from the Borderlands had me reading everything that I absolutely could, and it was worth every second of time.
The usual Quick Time events also make a return in Tales from the Borderlands, this time in higher and more frequent numbers. While the Quick Time Events are still very easy to complete it seems that the response time has been slightly shortened, meaning you will have to really be paying attention to avoid death and having to restart a part of the story. Ultimately I only died once though and it was because I wanted to see what would happen during a specific interaction if I didn’t hit the button, spoiler I died. The newest and most interesting addition to Tales from the Borderlands is the introduction of a currency system. In certain situations you will be given the option to pick up/gain money that you can use to do different things in the story. I only managed to find money once in the two hours and only had the opportunity to buy anything or use money once. As it turns out the one time I found money is also easily missed if you don’t interact with something during an area and the one time I could use the money was to buy a mask, I didn’t think it was worth it for the price. The currency system is an incredibly interesting concept but at this time is completely under utilized and almost completely useless. Hopefully in the coming episodes they expand the use of the currency system, I really want to do something awesome with my money.
One thing I have been asked a lot and I feel the need to mention is does this game have a Platinum trophy. Yes, yes it does. Why is that a commonly asked question, because the Walking Dead Season 2 did NOT have a Platinum so a lot of people were worried that Tales from the Borderlands wouldn’t either. On that note unless you just don’t finish the game there is no way you won’t unlock the Platinum or all of the achievements. Another thing I should mention is that if you are not sold on this game yet, you should be, then there is a demo available for PS3, sorry only PS3, that you can try for free to get a feel of the game. Tales from the Borderlands Episode 1: Zero Sum, is available right now for $4.99 or you can buy the season pass which includes all 5 episodes for $19.99. If you would like to watch a full playthrough of Zero Sum then check out our full playthrough below.
When its all said and done this game is absolutely amazing with almost nothing bad about it, I’m looking at you currency system. Whether you are a fan of Borderlands or not you should definitely play this game, its funny and incredibly addicting. Give it a shot and let us know what you think. If you have any questions or comments about this review, the game in general, or anything in general, feel free to ask them on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Youtube, or in the comments below and we will do our best to get back to you as soon as possible. While you’re on the above pages be sure to like us, follow us, and subscribe to us to stay up to date on the latest news and information that we have for you guys. Also be sure to follow us on Twitch so you will know when we livestream and on Instagram so you can see all our awesome pictures. We hope you find this review useful and are enjoying the game!!!