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New Tales from Borderlands review: Fascinating characters, no breathing room

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New Tales from Borderlands eager to please. The game’s script, perfectly presented by the voice cast, maintains a rivaling cadence of jokes. chirping for pure frequency. It took me about 10 hours to complete the game, I lost count of pop culture references. baby and Fans Only. You may not like all of the jokes (first, I didn’t care for a particular fart joke), but God, there’s enough here, some just Have ashore.

New Tales from Borderlands True to its name, it is a spiritual successor. Tales from the Borderlands. Although developed by Gearbox and not Telltale Games, if you’ve played any of these branching narrative games, you’ll feel right at home here. You control a trio: Anu, Octavio and Fran. The sister-brother couple Anu and Octavio are obvious flaws. Anu is a worried scientist who hates animal testing and any form of violence; Octavio, by contrast, sits comfortably in the cute buffoon archetype, insisting that he is street smart according to Anu’s smart book (though the evidence for these so-called smarts is weak). Fran, finally, Octavio’s friend and once employer, is an openly sexual frozen yogurt salesman with anger issues. The three are joined by supporting characters along the way, but their relationships with each other, narratively and mechanically, form the central driving force of the story. New Tales.

Anu, Octavio, Fran and LOU13 hold hands in front of a fire in New Tales from the Borderlands

Image: Transmission Software/2K Games

The first of five parts – and the game is the best in my taste – it does an excellent job of promoting these three in their own separate parts. Anu is shown in a high-stress scenario that punctuates her commitment to animal rights just before a dramatic conflict between the two feuds takes center stage. Octavio comes with LOU13, a robotic assassin that needs to hear your full name before he shoots you in the head for whatever reason. Fran appears to us in a casual moment of frustration that spirals into the irrational levels of anger that I, as a player, choose to embrace throughout the game.

Their stories gradually coalesce with a novel-like patience, as the script was sure enough of every single thread to take time before putting them together. Episode 1, as expected, ends with the gang, but most importantly, they still get to know each other, aside from some shared histories between the individuals.

At least until episode 2 begins, at this point we’re treated to a montage (set to great music) that shows the central cast as well as LOU13 hooking up and wordlessly connecting, resulting in them making the wave. It’s a funny, absurd image, but when you take back control of the characters after the music video, the band has its own dynamic: Fran, who had just met Anu the last time we saw her, is now comfortable making the same kind of jokes about her. overthinking tendencies, as did the scientist’s own brother. While the first episode was thought to be stoic in its plot and characterization (especially regarding the deliberately loud Borderlands aesthetic), the sequel felt completely appropriate, as if these characters had known each other their entire lives.

In New Tales from the Borderlands, a car with Atlus stickers shoots off a large wall in a shower of sparks

Image: Transmission Software/2K Games

This may sound like an overly literary complaint, and maybe it is. But in this genre, narrative is the primary driving force of the game. These Telltale-style games put the player in the role of a fiction writer putting together a first draft, and having to make instinctive decisions about how and why a character does what they do. The rest of your interactions are secondary to these decisions, especially New Tales, non-narrative episodes often take the form of unsatisfying (albeit skippable) pirate mini-games; an action figure/fighting mayhem that plays the same way as the first for the seventh time; or putting the player in a place where they can walk around and interact with people, objects and the occasional garbage bag with money. (This is Borderlands, after all.)

after all, New Tales suffers from pacing issues at both the character and plot level. Team cohesion is introduced as a mechanic that affects story beats, but when I failed my first behind-the-scenes roll of the dice, it resulted in the death of a cute, dog-like character (Okay, dog-Request), I struggled to see when and where I went wrong in my interactions in the short time given to me.

The plot loses steam in episode 3, which is an admittedly entertaining diversion featuring a long riff. shark tankI just wished it was more detailed to get to a fiery chapter 5 where significant character losses have piled up alongside the narrative enhancements. Fran, in particular, suffers from a frustrating mix of genuinely funny interactions and an over-reliance on playing her sexuality for comedy, especially for a character with multiple gender interests. Wonderful pieces, such as a slow-paced joke with an anonymous mod in his flying chair, which caused a traumatic scene of bloodshed in his childhood, are overshadowed by the ubiquitous jokes he enjoys having sex with.

In New Tales of the Borderlands, the jester brother Octavio holds a rifle with a confused expression on his face.

Image: Transmission Software/2K Games

There is plenty of laughter in the game though. The dialogue is fast and well-voiced, and the jokes hit when they hit. In particular, I’ve found a soldier you consistently find funny in freezers, morgues, and vents in Gene Parmesan fashion, and I’ll be laughing at Fergus, a free Chippendales for weeks. The esque intern dancing to a song called “Free Labour,” the only word she knows, like a Hodor of late capitalism.

There was also some truth in Anu and Octavio’s journeys as brother and sister, but the path I took in the story was overwhelmed by some of the game’s more magical elements, setting aside quiet, emotional conversations to achieve the more traditionally dramatic video game. plan things out that include pieces and glowing green energy. i really like it New Tales from Borderlands and its characters. I just wished their stories had a little more time to breathe.

New Tales from Borderlands It will be released on October 21 for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X. The game was reviewed on PC using a pre-release download code provided by 2K Games. Vox Media has subsidiaries. While Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased through affiliate links, these do not affect editorial content. You can find Additional information on Polygon’s ethics policy is here.