Tales from the Borderlands: Episode 5 – The Vault of the Traveler PlayStation 4 Review

Article first published as PlayStation 4 Review: ‘Tales from the Borderlands: Episode 5 – The Vault of the Traveler’ on Blogcritics.

Tales from the Borderlands, Episode 5, The Vault of the Traveler

TellTales adventure game adaptation of Gearbox’s RPG Shooter Borderlands draws to a close with Episode 5: The Vault of the Traveler. The adventure game series has for the most part done a good job of adding some detail to the desert world of Pandora. Where the characters and environments in the source material games are often run through in a flash, TellTale’s version adds some much appreciated depth. That’s not to say that everything is perfect in the series. The game maker’s episodes have become progressively shorter, the actual gameplay is fairly limited, and their version of the Borderlands isn’t nearly as gritty as the originals are.

Episode 5:  The Vault of Traveler picks up in the middle of the chaos that was where Episode 4 left off. For a TellTale adventure, Episode 5 is pretty action packed from beginning to end. For this reviewer, the first half of the two-hour episode is actually where the series is at its best. The action and dialogue is earnest and focuses on the main human characters in the story. The original Borderlands games have always flirted with the absurd, while chasing over the top action with memorable characters. Unfortunately, TellTale has mostly chosen Saturday morning cartoon version of the narrative, albeit a somewhat gory one.

Since the finger gun battle, it was obvious that TellTale wanted to highlight the absurd in Tales from the Borderlands. The second half of this final episode along with its big reveal, cement the series’ place in the canon of nonsense. The Voltron, Power Ranger-esque battle sequence is setup with a Mass Effect 2 or 3 type of accounting of your previous gameplay choices and the relationships throughout the previous four episodes. While nothing terribly significant is really affected, there are quite few different ways the ending can play out. Of course you might need to start the whole series over again to change your final battle line-up.

Tales from the Borderlands, Episode 5, The Vault of the TravelerFor a recent TellTale game, there actually is a good amount of gameplay in this final episode. The Vault of Traveler really is a fitting conclusion, even if it did take the adventure game developer almost a year to release about 12 hours of cut scenes bookended with quick time events and a splash of actual gameplay. While the last statement might seem quite critical, TellTale’s formula is actually fairly entertaining. If there weren’t others moving into the spot of gaming real estate TellTale has staked out, they might still be contending for “Game of the Year” honors.

TellTale Games made a name for themselves with their 2012 adaptation of The Walking Dead. It was a gritty, and emotional journey that was expertly crafted into an interactive adventure. Since that time, TellTale has had numerous scheduling delays, and gravitated back towards a more juvenile point of view, capped with the recent release of Minecraft: Story Mode. Granted, not everyone appreciates a dark story as much as I do, but in my opinion, that was what really separated TellTale’s The Walking Dead from every other adventure game out there, and made it easier to forgive the technical limitations of the proprietary TellTale game engine.

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