It has been over three months since I dove into the first episode of Telltale Games and 2K’s collaborative effort, Tales from the Borderlands. After the opening episode, which I considered to be a five-star experience, I was more than eager to continue my cross-Pandora adventure with Rhys and Fiona, the game’s primary protagonists. But with over three months between releases, my anticipation quickly whittled away by the passage of time.
I forgot the names of the characters I met in Episode 1, and worst of all, I forgot most of what the story was even about.
Telltale never officially revealed why they extended the deadline for Episode 2. Maybe there was an issue on one of the game’s platforms. Maybe Telltale wanted February’s focus to be strictly on Game of Thrones, since GoT is set to be an episode longer than Tales From The Borderlands, and Telltale wants both games to conclude around the same time for production purposes. Whatever the true reason, the general public had to make do with twiddling their thumbs for three months while waiting for Episode 2 to arrive.
So as I downloaded Tales from the Borderlands Episode 2,”Atlas Mugged,” the question floating around in the back of my mind was whether Episode 2 could bring me back into the series, or if three months was too much of wait.
A few short minutes into Episode 2, I was re-acquainted with the crew of misfits and already chuckling at the game’s sense of humor. From jokes that break the fourth wall to the absurdity of Patrick Warburton’s voice work with the villain Vasquez, Tales From The Borderlands certainly did not forget its sense of humor during its three-month vacation.
In “Atlas Mugged,” players will find themselves thrust into all sorts of absurd situations against some absolutely ludicrous antagonists. Like every Telltale adventure game, the player spends most of their time watching the game unfold, making the occasional decision on how to direct the conversation. My only real gripe about Episode 1 was how none of the decisions I made really seemed to matter, and it never felt like any of the characters were ever in immediate danger. The lack of concern is akin to what viewers feel watching Looney Tunes; the characters are almost always in dangerous predicaments, but we’re never really worried for their safety.
But as I said in my Episode 1 review, Borderlands as a franchise has never had a serious tone like some of Telltale’s other partners (ie The Walking Dead, Game of Thones) do. The heart and soul of Borderlands is its gallows humor, an aspect that I was happy to see strongly maintained in Episode 2. Having the game feature heart-wrenching decisions would feel out of place in the world of Pandora. (So really, it’s a minor gripe at best).
The only moment that I actually felt true tension was just seconds before the game concluded. The conclusion, by the way, is very abrupt. The pacing up to that point was good, with interesting characters popping in and out of the story. My personal favorite was Scooter, the man behind the “Catch-A-Ride” terminals found scattered in Borderlands 1 and 2. All the voice acting and line delivery was outstanding in “Atlas Mugged,” but Vasquez (Warburton) and Scooter (Mike Neumann) were the best.
The first episode of Tales from the Borderlands performed very well on my iPad Mini 2 (something which the Game of Thrones series has struggled with), and I’m happy to say that “Atlas Mugged” is no different. While the game typically ran at a smooth framerate, I noticed that during big scene transitions there was always a little hang in the loading times. The game would simply freeze on the last frame of a scene and for a few seconds I wasn’t sure if the game was frozen or if it was just loading something. It’s not a game-breaking issue by any stretch, but it also wasn’t something I experienced in my encounter with the previous episode.
While it certainly took it’s time getting released, Tales From The Borderlands – Episode 2: Atlas Mugged retains the charm and adventure that made the first episode such a memorable experience. Let’s just hope we don’t have to wait as long for Episode 3.