Article first published as PlayStation 4 Review: ‘Tales From the Borderlands: Episode 3 – Catch a Ride’ on Blogcritics.
Fans of TellTale Games’ Tales From the Borderlands adventure game series will be happy to know that Episode 3: Catch a Ride is now available. The three months between releases is shorter than the four month period between the first and second episodes. It’s hard to imagine that delays of even two months is helpful for maintaining the relevance of a new episodic game series. Luckily the source material just received a high definition rerelease with Borderlands: The Handsome Collection that includes both Borderlands 2 and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, between the last two Tales From the Borderlands episodes.
TellTale’s Tales From the Borderlands adventure games follow the same basic formula that their other current series use. Based on the classic point and click adventure games of decades past, TellTale changes the formula by introducing a small amount of 3D gameplay, branching dialogue, and a heavy dose of cell shading. Of course, the subject matter is hugely popular and there is little debate about the quality of TellTale’s storytelling. From top-notch writing, and voice acting to their cinematic staging, TellTales adventure games are nothing if not compelling, and Tales From the Borderlands is no exception.
Episode 3: Catch a Ride picks up with the outcome of Rhys’ choice, to go along with either Fiona or Handsome Jack’s solution to the second episode’s standoff. The decision made in Atlas Mugged significantly alters the way the first act plays out, but by the second chapter, the branches have mostly reconnected. One of two party members will immediately pay the price for the decision, though by the ending, at least one of them can be remedied. As for the choice’s full impact, with two episodes to go, there may be some lingering after effects.
Besides the result of Episode Two’s big decision, Catch a Ride does significantly alter the group’s situation. A couple of new characters are introduced, and a handful of others make a return. If you thought August and Vasquez were bad, get ready for things to get worse. As soon as the party gets out of their first mess, August’s fear inspiring, warlord boss shows up. Luckily, this showdown allows Rhys and Fiona to eliminate one annoyance, and also pick up a surprising and effective ally. Of course, whatever progress is made during the third episode, is quickly negated by its end, though it does appear that the adventure is on its way off of Pandora.
Frustrations aside about TellTale’s Tales From the Borderlands release schedule, the alternate gameplay at the beginning of Episode Three is a positive. As a matter of fact, Catch a Ride is easily the series’ best episode. In terms of pacing, plot execution, and variety in environment and gameplay, Episode Three might be one of the best episodic segments they’ve ever put together. Of course, considering the episode can be easily completed in under two hours, and the consistent technical limitations of TellTale’s game engine, it makes its relative gaming value a tough sell.