Games / Game Reviews

Review: Tales from the Borderlands: Zer0 Sum

By Sean Booker
December 8, 2014 - 17:25


The first episode of Telltale Games’ new series Tales from the Borderlands, titled Zer0 Sum, drags its feet a bit but sets up an interesting concept to launch from. Playing as two different characters with separate stories allows for the pacing to remain interesting as you move along. The writing is generally quite funny and fans of Borderlands proper will definitely get a bit more out of this series. The beginning stumbles but points towards what could be a fun and interesting time.

You begin with Rhys, a lowly employee working at the evil corporation Hyperion’s space station. Though your company is a major threat in the Borderlands series, this protagonist seems to have separate feelings. You quickly get yourself mixed up in a robbery gone wrong when you rocket yourself, along with your best friend, to Pandora and meet up with our other hero. Like Rhys, Fiona doesn’t have the cleanest of employment but generally wants to do good for herself and her family. The collection of characters in your team are varied and it’s fun to see the hijinks they get up to.

The game jumps back and forth between controlling these two in order to show off the dual storytelling. Without spoiling anything I’ll just note that unfortunately the story itself is a little uninteresting in concept. However, moving between both protagonists helps keep the pacing up the whole way through. It’s fun to see how the two end up influencing each other before eventually meeting up. Boring motivations aside, the end of the episode raises a cool cliffhanger that will definitely cater fans of Pandora’s history. Despite dragging its feet at the beginning, the multi-story dynamic makes for an interesting change from what we have previously seen from Telltale Games.

The writing is generally pretty funny and the characters are definitely key to that. It is definitely nice to see a departure from the meme-heavy gags littered throughout Borderlands 2. As per usual with these adventure games there is an emphasis on difficult decision making. This is definitely one of the low points since there are only a few one vs. one choices you have to make. Two of which didn’t seem hard at all whereas the last did make me pause momentarily. I gauge my investment here on whether they actually feel meaningful and it is a shame that that happened only once.

The only real new element that Tales from the Borderlands brings to this company’s formula is in a brief combat section. At one point you are assisted by a robot to help fight off some bandits and you are able to choose its weapon loadout. Both primary and secondary slots are customizable. Your selected weapons are used in the following action but it didn’t seem like there was any way not to succeed with what is presented. Despite this style of choice being new it seemed meaningless. I only played through the section once but it is definitely hard to see being able to mess that section up. Hopefully this mechanic gets a bigger role in the future and comes across as much more interesting.

There is a bit of a rough start to Tales of the Borderlands but the characters and humor manage to pull it through into a positive light. The story lulls but does end on a note worth exploring. The biggest shame is that I didn’t feel like the stakes were high enough when the major decisions came forward. Hopefully this series can work off this stumble and smartly build on what it has started.

Rating: 6 /10

Last Updated: September 6, 2021 - 08:15

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