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Review: Tales from the Borderlands Ep. 5: The Vault of the Traveler

In the final episode of Tales from the Borderlands, Telltale Games has managed to create one of their funniest, yet darkest episodes yet. The episode takes you on a roller coaster of emotions as you laugh, feel uncomfortable at times, and want to tear up at others. The game ties up loose ends, characters die, and other characters return. In the Vault of the Traveler, Telltale actually makes it feel like your choices from the previous episodes greatly impact the way your story ends. Characters react to you based on how you treated them in previous episodes, and there is even a choice that you make earlier in the series that can determine if one of your main characters lives or dies at the end. There are throwbacks galore to previous Borderland titles and Easter eggs that range from Power Rangers to Final Fantasy 7. Much like Telltale’s other games, episode 4 was a drag, but they always knock it out of the park with the finale. Telltale continues to finish strong.

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As always with Borderlands, comedy was one of the stronger parts of the game. Much like the main Borderlands games, I caught myself caring about the robot characters more than the human characters. Their innocent, yet comedic charm makes them more likable in my opinion. Loaderbot and Gortys speak to me much like Claptrap did in the previous games. That being said, a lot of the human characters came into their own in the finale. Characters I could care less about previously suddenly made me care, even Handsome Jack made me feel sorry for him.
The final boss battle of Tales from the Borderlands was phenomenal. There is a nod to the Power Rangers here that I thought was brilliant. The combat itself was a mix of the usual run of the mill Telltale combat that we are used to from previous games from the developer, but they have added in a fighting game style that reminds me of Street Fighter. Even the combat animations are nods to move from Chun Li as well as Ken and Ryu.

I do however have a couple of issues with the story. In times it felt too rushed. This is in part because Telltale left a lot of plot holes that needed to be tied up from previous installments. The game would have benefited from having more substance in Episode 4 to spread out the content instead of trying to fit the amount of content that they did in a mere two hours. This seems to be a recurring trend with Telltale games, as The Wolf Among Us and The Walking Dead season two suffered from the same criticisms.

Another recurring trend with Telltale games is the hiccups that the game engine seems to suffer from. In several spots of the game, frame-rates would drop, scenes would stutter and seem to skip. The company seems to be pushing out title after title, where they could really benefit from taking a little down time to optimize the game engine to make the game more enjoyable for their fans. I played the game on PS4, so I can only assume that the last gen versions of the games suffered from these issues more than I did.

The audio for the game was on point though. There were a couple of license tracks that really added to the experience, especially Retrograde from James Blake that plays during the title sequence of the episode. Voice acting wise, as always Telltale are at the top of their game. The characters voices fit them, the lines were delivered with meaning and were all around enjoyable to listen to.

Tales from the Borderlands Episode 5: The Vault of the Traveler gives the series an amazing conclusion, in what I believe is the best ending that Telltale has given us next to The Walking Dead Season 1 and definitely the strong episode of this series. All of the questions that loomed from previous episodes were answered and tied up nicely, as well as new questions to consider about that will in no doubt shape the future of Borderlands, such as is this a sneak preview of what Pandora will look like when we finally get Borderlands 3.

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Tales from the Borderlands Episode 4 Review

The Penultimate episode to the series is closing things nicely.

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The Tales from the Borderlands series of games, if you read my reviews you know, is consistently entertaining and fun.  Each episode so far has provided something unique in terms of story and gameplay that always keep the episode from getting boring or tedious.  I honestly love how much effort and love went into making the past four episodes.  I care about the characters and the universe.  Everything just resonates so well with me in the series and chapter 4 is definitely no exception.

Tales from the Borderlands Episode 4: Escape Plan Bravo finally shines some light on the groups situation. Well, at least for a brief moment. It wouldn’t be a Tales From The Borderlands game if something didn’t go awry and often.  It is expected, but it works because I am always drawn to the characters and how each situation unfolds.  This kind of reminds me of watching and playing your favorite movie and video game series.  You know that the main characters will get into trouble over and over, but they always manage to get out of it using inventive and often times hilarious ways.  How would you expect one of the main characters to get past security with facial recognition technology?  Two words- Face Pizza.

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With each new chapter in this series, Tell Tale games seems to figure out new ways to bring in the action and the gross-outs.  I won’t spoil anything here, but the aforementioned face pizza is equally hilarious and absolutely disgusting.  It really works for the series. What also works is how this episode decided to handle its “violence”.  There is an unforgettable scene where a “shootout” takes place that hits all the right notes and manages to not only be endearing, but my favorite part of the series as a whole so far.  I felt like this break from Borderlands reality along with how it all played out felt so out of place that it worked incredibly well.  I would honestly recommend playing the first three episodes just to get to this wonderful scene.

Aside from all of the humor and “action”, there was a really great emotional weight her as well.  A major event happens, which I cannot spoil here, that actually brings a pause to everything, but this sweet and heartbreaking moment.  Fans of the Borderland series will actually be affected more so than players who have not spent more time in this universe.  Nonetheless, this moment is quite moving and is handled in exactly the right way.  The other bum note that gamers might agree with me on is the of a few familiar characters.  There are some series regular cast that barely make an appearance.  One of my favorite characters only showed up for about ten seconds via a brief phone call that just reminds players that he still exists in the world.

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Other than that one minor issue, I would have to say that Tales from the Borderlands Episode 4: Escape Plan Bravo is as entertaining if not more so than the previous entries.  I have loved where the series is headed so far.  The characters and events that unfold are so entertaining that I really don’t want any of it to end.  This last episode along with the previous three have set up so much that I am not sure how they provide a satisfying conclusion is the one and a half to two hours it takes to finish each one.  I have confidence in Tell Tale however, and I cannot wait for episode five.  I highly recommend Episode 4 of Tales from the Borderlands as well as all previous episodes if you have yet to try them out.