|System: PC, PS3, PS4, PS Vita, Xbox 360, Xbox One|
|Dev: Telltale Games|
|Pub: Telltale Games|
|Release: June 23, 2015|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Violence, Blood and Gore, Suggestive Themes, Strong Language|
by Angelo M. D’Argenio
After a not-so-short wait, we return to Pandora for Tales from the Borderlands: Episode 3. Episodes 1 and 2 were fantastic masterpieces of comedy writing, and Episode 3 is no different. Once again Telltale shows us that they are masters of knowing their universe, allowing us to simultaneously enjoy an adventure in the world of Borderlands while poking fun at it at the same time.
Tales from the Borderlands has the uncanny ability to make fun of everything, including itself. This time around, it makes fun of you for being “back so soon,” which itself is making fun of its previous joke, “it’s been a while,” which referenced the long period between Episode 1 and Episode 2’s release.
It also makes fun of classic adventure game tropes. Early on in the game you come across a broken drone, and while it has absolutely no apparent use to you right now and is no different than the tons of other broken items you have stumbled across, Rhys puts it in his pocket, stating “I’m taking you with me for… some reason.” Ha!
It even goes as far as to make fun of the Telltale formula as well. The Telltale reminder text is snarkier than ever. Sometimes it doubts your decisions, and other times it makes sarcastic remarks about the situation you are in. It also loves to joke about things you really should be remembering without its assistance.
The game is saturated with quirky Borderlands style humor. Even in a life or death shootout, you get the chance to save your life by knocking down a statue, via a robot caressing its supple butt cheeks. Handsome Jack got a kick out of that one.
But the game also experiences a pretty heavy shift in tone. Up until now, no one important or named has gotten killed. However, Tales from the Borderlands: Episode 3 likes to suddenly go The Walking Dead on you and kill characters rather suddenly, which packs quite a punch in a game that otherwise treats death with lighthearted humor. Though even these serious points of the game are fuel for jokes. For example, one character is killed mere seconds after you make a decision that would be remembered, according to the Telltale reminder text. Oops?
In fact one of the most enjoyable things about Episode 3 and Tales from the Borderlands in general is this roller coaster of tones. The game goes from humorous to serious at the flip of a switch. At one point, you are discussing the secrets of the universe, and in another you are talking with a cut buddy robot. Then you are shooting thugs who are trying to kill you, and afterward you are poking a dead body with a stick.
Along with these tonal shifts come interesting explorations of the main characters’ backstories. They become less like tropes and more like fully fleshed out people with wants and dreams. Vaugh, your nerdy best friend, actually has a scene about how he really hates being the nerdy best friend, and it’s rather unexpected. But this is par for the course for a Borderlands title. Underneath the shooting and humor, there always has been a serious and well crafted plot that handles many current political and social issues very well, like some sort of hyper drugged out gun toting version of Star Trek. What’s even better, Tales from the Borderlands even lampoons itself for these tonal shifts, harassing you in a tongue in cheek manner for making things so dramatic.