-Gregg Dietz (@ChubRockGeek)
The world was recently given a great gift, Telltale Games released the first episodes of 2 brand new series, Tales From The Borderlands and Game of Thrones. Both were a bit of a surprise since Telltale likes to announce release dates the day before it actually releases. I feel like i just finished The Wolf among us and hadn’t even caught my breath before these were thrown in my lap. I know that read like a complaint but i’d happily drown in a telltale sea.
Telltale has been making fantastic content for a while now, but they hit pay dirt with The walking dead in 2012. The series is so well received that they have a 3rd season in the works as you read this. Shortly after that, they announced The wolf among us, based on the fables graphic novel series. I was quite excited about that one and before the series was over, they announced the 2 i'm reviewing here. Lets begin with the first to be released.
Tales from the Borderlands Episode 1 Review
Being a long time fan of the Borderlands franchise, i was quite excited for this title. However, i did have my reservations due to this coming from an action game. The other telltale games were based of titles that were known for heavy dialog. Borderlands 2 did have a lot of dialog but it was more action shooter. I can assure you if you shared my doubt that this is amazing.
In past telltale games, you control one person throughout the season, Lee, Clem, Bigby, but in Borderlands, you take control of Rhys and Fiona. What makes this so amazing is when playing as any of the other characters, you must put yourself into that person, here however, you are thinking for 2 people who couldn’t be more apart in personality. Its like role playing a person with multiple personality disorder.
The story takes place after Borderlands 2 and is told from the perspective of the 2 main characters but from the end of the story. A mysterious person is holding them hostage and asking for their side of the deal, but to what purpose has yet to be revealed. Rhys and Fiona are great characters that I want to see develop over the course of the episodes. The rest of the supporting cast is full of wonderful and interesting characters that I either want to punch in the mouth or protect. Some I hope get more time on screen in later episodes.
The visuals are that of borderlands but have a certain Telltale flair that I thoroughly loved. Its like peanut butter and chocolate. The gameplay is identical to every other Telltale game but I wouldn’t expect it to be different. You can only do so much with point and click adventure games. That being said, I love this style of game, it’s intuitive enough for anyone to play but also forgiving enough that if you fail to hit a button or QTE in time, the game doesn’t punish you with a checkpoint, it just keeps going forward.
My only gripe is that not every character needs a splash card. I get that they are meant to be funny but if i'm only going to be seeing this character for a very short amount of time, I don't need to know their name followed by a joke. This is a nitpick though because it doesn’t interrupt the flow of the game, just something that I found to be slightly annoying.
Overall, I would highly recommend this, especially if you are a borderlands fan. The major thing about this, and other telltale games is they are mostly written for fans of the source material but also for folks who want to good story. I give Tales from the Borderlands Episode 1 a 9.5 outta 10.
Game of Thrones Episode 1 Review
Before I begin with my review, I must warn you that there will be spoilers in this so if you are not caught up to at least season 4 episode 1 of the HBO show, please skip down to my spoiler free overall paragraph.
This was a major surprise announcement during last years train wreck, the spike video games awards. No one expected to see this one but everyone knew it was a perfect pairing. There have been attempts to make a game of thrones game in the past but the mistake they made was creating an action game. Let me explain, if you have watched the show before, you know its not about sword fights and big battles. Its all about politics and mind games, hence why having a company known for making dialog heavy and story driven games was a perfect storm.
As I stated in the Borderlands review, you don't take control of one person throughout the story, but you also don't take control of 2 characters either, you take control of 5 characters from one family, granted episode 1 only has 3 of the 5 playable. This makes things incredibly dynamic for the player. You can choose to play it like every member is noble and good or you can decide which characters are awful and which ones will backstab. Being a fan of the show, I chose to make them all good and loyal to the Stark banner. This may be a poor choice.
A fascinating aspect of having 3 characters split up for most of the episode is that this allows for the story to be told like the books and show. There is Mira Forrester who is one of Margaery Tyrell handmaidens and she is living within King’s Landing. Next is Ethan Forrester, who becomes the lord of Ironrath after his older brother is killed. And finally Gared Tuttle, squire to Lord Forrester and is sent to Castle Black for what he has brought to Ironrath.
I can’t wait for episode 2, I made choices that had unsavory results and I became attached to characters when I shouldn’t have. This makes for good storytelling, keep the player on their toes, not able to guess what’s going to happen next. My palms were legitimately sweating in the final moments of the episode because I felt like i needed to make the right choices. I would like to do another run of episode 1 to see if I could change the outcome but that may spoil the fun.
The visuals are astounding in this game, it still has the classic Telltale design but with a grounded spin to it. The thing that stood out the most to me is how the background looked like a painting where as the characters didn’t. This made every single character stand out in any given scene. The only time I cringed at the visuals was that Natalie Dormer’s face did not translate well to the style. Not sure why but in the show, she is beautiful but here, she looks a little alien like. The voice acting was phenomenal as usual for Telltale. The cast isn’t the star studded affair that the Borderlands game was but it was still fantastic. And good on the cast members that came in to voice their characters from the show for the game. It really does flesh out the world more when I hear the same voice coming out the same character.
Overall this was an amazing experience that I recommend everyone check out. If you love the show, this is something that you will especially enjoy. It carries all the weight of the show and then some. Please do not pass on this game. I give Telltale’s Game of Thrones Episode 1 a 10 outta 10.
I had the privilege of playing both of these games on a stream with a group called Half Empty Energy Tank. You can catch the past broadcasts of the games on their twitch account at Twitch.tv/HalfEmptyEnergyTank.
What do you think of the games featured in the reviews? What has been your favorite moment in a Telltale game? Let us know in the comments below, on our Facebook fan page, or tweet us @MissionStartP
Thanks for reading