Tales from the Borderlands: Episode 1 - Zero Sum Review
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Tales from the Borderlands: Episode 1 - Zero Sum Box Art
System: PC*, PS3, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS4
Dev: Telltale Games
Pub: Telltale Games
Release: November 25, 2014
Players: 1
Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p Violence, Blood and Gore, Suggestive Themes, Strong Language

Even the U.I. is themed around Borderlands. Rhys’s U.I. is themed around the sleek polygonal blue on blue design of the Borderlands menu. Many times his options will not simply be laid out as text, but as menu options on his palm device, and this is kind of cool. Fiona’s U.I. is lower tech and has a wild west sort of feel to it. She has less context sensitive options than Rhys but more complex dialogue options. This trade off feels good, actually. When Rhys is at the helm, you’ll be summoning down loader bots and hacking databases, and when Fiona is in charge, you’ll be sweet talking your way past guards just to shoot them in the back.

The U.I. does fail in one critical aspect though--the mouse cursor is usually black or grey with a black outline. Sometimes it will light up teal when you hover over an option but otherwise it’s still this dark and barely noticeable arrow. This is a real problem when playing on the PC version. It’s nearly impossible to figure out where your cursor is on screen. I would frequently find my dialogue sequences timing out because I couldn’t locate my mouse cursor in order to click the option I wanted. It’s also frustrating that your choices are presented as a sort of top down list, rather than the big four boxes that you saw in games like The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us. Everything is just a little bit more finicky in this game and I’m not sure why. I had to play in windowed mode and moved my cursor outside of the game window just to figure out where it was for every choice I had to make.

Tales from the Borderlands: Episode 1 - Zero Sum Screenshot

Finally, Tales from the Borderlands: Episode 1 - Zero Sum also shakes up the Telltale formula a bit by adding a couple extra game mechanics. For example, Rhys has the ability to go into first person and scan the world with his computer eye. It works a lot like the way it did in Metroid Prime, as scanning objects around you gives you more information on them, as well as more jokes, and can get you special items or new dialogue options in the future.

Fiona’s big change to gameplay is cash. She starts with a meager 10 dollars and through her decisions can end up with more. She can then spend that money to bribe people in special dialogue options, or to buy interesting items. For example, at one point in the game she needs to pick up a bandit mask to disguise herself, and more money could give you a rarer more badass mask.

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There’s also a couple other interesting twists to the gameplay here. You’ll many times find guns and items lying around, with their classic Borderlands pillar of light marking their rarity. Players who know that orange means legendary will likely go for these first and that changes how the game plays out. Inventory plays a much bigger role in this game, and at times you’ll even be able to select loadouts of loader bots that will fight on your side. There is just something so incredibly Borderlands-y about the game, and that’s what makes is so great.

I will say that Tales from the Borderlands: Episode 1 - Zero Sum didn’t immediately grab me as a must see piece of game art like The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us did. However, it did grab me as a well written piece of game comedy, and those might be even rarer than the dramas, horrors, and mysteries we have seen throughout gaming’s history. Tales from the Borderlands: Episode 1 - Zero Sum is undeniably fun, and I can’t wait to see what further episodes bring. Until them, I AM THE CAPTAIN OF THIS POOP TRAIN! I’M GOING TO FILL YOU UP WITH BEES AND PLAY YOU LIKE A HARMONICA!

By
Angelo M. D'Argenio
Contributing Writer
Date: November 25, 2014

RATING OUT OF 5
RATING DESCRIPTION
4.0
Graphics
Very good graphics with an unfortunately lacking U.I.
4.0
Control
Once again the point and click nature of the game works fine but the hard to see cursor ruins some of the experience.
4.5
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Incredible performances all around.
4.5
Play Value
Well it has me hooked. I can’t wait to see the next episode.
4.5
Overall Rating - Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
Review Rating Legend
0.1 - 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 3.5 - 3.9 = Good 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair 4.0 - 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Incredible narrative that picks up after the end of Borderlands 2.
  • Appearances by all your favorite vault hunters.
  • Interesting new systems beyond the simple dialogue choices.

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