Review: Tales from the Borderlands, Episode 2: ‘Atlas Mugged’

Written by Lucas P. Jones

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‘Atlas Mugged,’ the newest offering from the Telltale Game’s Tales from the Borderlands series, continues the tried-and-true system of these bite-sized stories, which continue to muddle the line between movie and video game. For someone who has never played a Telltale Games adventure, let alone the Tales from the Borderlands series, this experience was eye-opening in more ways than one. So let’s dive right in.

The second episode, ‘Atlas Mugged,’ continues the story of the two main characters introduced in the first episode of the series. The pair of main characters are an unlikely duo; one is a Hyperion bureaucrat with his accountant partner in crime, the other is a native of the borderlands who is accompanied by her sister, both of them being lifelong thieves. This pairing allows for a lot of interesting dialogue choices between the two, as well as providing character conflict throughout the story in between the of main events of the plot. The basic premise of the series, is that you have stolen 10 million dollars from Hyperion to buy a Vault Key, and shenanigans ensue. I always hate those game reviews that give away half the story before you play, so I’ll endeavor to not make this one of them. Suffice to say is the story is multi-layered, and takes advantage of the control of two main characters by the player.

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I never quite got around to playing any of The Walking Dead series from Telltale Games. Somehow it managed to slip under my radar. So this was my first foray into the style of game that Telltale makes. I have to say, just based on the format that they presented, I was blown away. I was not expecting a company to be able to tell such a convincing story and offer up such a truly fun experience using the interactive story format. Tales from the Borderlands uses a simple system; you get a limited amount of time to choose conversation options in response to what is happening on screen to move the story, and you also have to do simple maneuvers using your arrow keys and button presses. These maneuvers can be dodging attacks, moving around the room, and interacting with objects that further the story. The decisions that you make in terms of conversation, supposedly affects the story later on down the road. However, I feel like it is too early to determine exactly how much of an impact those options have.

Moving away from the format of the game, on to the game itself, I found it to be extremely well written. Honestly, it’s one of the best stories that I’ve seen in a video game in quite some time. they were certainly moments that blew me away, moments that left me on the edge of my seat. I found myself confused as to what I should do next. All of these things are balanced out of course, for the excellent brand of Borderlands style humor. This is a world you definitely should explore, and looking at objects will often bring up an info panel that contains the vital stats of an object, as well as a description of said object. If you were a fan of Borderlands 1 or 2, you know exactly the type of humor that I’m talking about. Sometimes meta, sometimes pop culture, sometimes straight up ridiculous. It provides a nice break in the action karma and keeps the game from feeling too out of place with its full scale counterparts. To be honest, I didn’t even miss the lack of gunplay and RPG elements. That’s how good the story is, that’s how smoothly the game plays.

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Getting an opportunity to review Tales from the Borderlands has made me a happy convert to the Telltale Games format. And considering the extremely reasonable price., there is no reason why these games shouldn’t be played by the vast majority of users. If you’re interested in a good story and characters that you actually come to care about, then Tales from the Borderlands is for you. If you enjoyed the humor in the first Borderlands games, and want to take another trip back to Pandora, then this game is definitely for you. Lastly, if you’re like me, and just have never given these games a shot, do it. It will be totally worth your time and money as this game provides a fantastic experience that is lost in many modern video games.

 ‘Atlas Mugged’ Rating: 9.5 out of 10


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