Tales from the Borderlands: Escape Plan Bravo
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One (Reviewed)
Release Date: August 19, 2015
Price: $4.99 – Available Here
Telltale Games has had their work cut out for them throughout most of 2015 as they’ve had to juggle fans of both Game of Thrones and Borderlands expecting to see a new episode released for their respective series. While they may have stumbled at the start, the company has found a solid pace and now that the penultimate episode of Tales from the Borderlands has been released, does Escape Plan Bravo continue to be as enjoyable as the last three have been?
It is worth noting that since this review is for the fourth episode of Tales from the Borderlands, that there will be story elements from the third episode of the series discussed in this review so if you haven’t managed to complete Catch a Ride yet then you should do so before progressing.
Anyways, at the end of the last episode Rhys and Fiona were in a bad way. With Athena defeated and dragged away by Mordecai and Brick, the pair as well as Sasha (and potentially Vaughn depending on how you handled certain situations in the past) have been captured by Vallory and her men. With the only other choice being death, Fiona agrees to help Vallory find the Vault of the Traveler but in order to do so they must find the last missing upgrade for Gortys.
As we previously found out, this upgrade isn’t simply sitting in some isolated location on Pandora, it is on Hyperion’s Helios base. With August and Vallory’s two main men joining to make sure that the pair don’t try to alter the deal, Rhys and Fiona must find a way to go to space and through the help of Scooter and another familiar character to build a rocket ship to take them there. Of course it wouldn’t be Borderlands if something like a rocket launch was taken seriously and one of the best moments in the episode involving plenty of slow motion moments with well-timed facial expressions set to a dramatic song makes this intro sequence the best yet.
It is easy to make a player laugh with some well-written jokes but using facial expressions like in the aforementioned sequence is just great. Of course that is far from the only funny moment in this episode as there are plenty of great jokes scattered throughout the episode such as Fiona’s sarcastic nature leading to many great quips, the adorably naïve Gortys, and of course plenty of jokes coming from everyone’s favorite holographic psychopath Handsome Jack. There is even a ridiculously nerdy air gun fight that has to be seen to be believed as it is practically impossible to explain other than being chock full of visual gags.
It isn’t all fun, games, and references to past events however, as there are still plenty of story developments that take place over the course of Escape Plan Bravo including a major decision at the end that will likely play a large role in how things unfold in the next episode. Of course Rhys and Fiona’s mysterious masked captor still remains an unknown meaning that he/she will likely be revealed in the next episode but there is more than just that.
So far Tales from the Borderlands has appeared to be nothing more than a side-story that may bridge the gap between the second and possibly third game in the series. That changes in Escape Plan Bravo as it solidifies itself as part of the cannon by delivering a heartbreaking loss right in the player’s lap with there being nothing the player can do. Swinging from comedic highs to emotional loss and then trying to bring players back to laughing is a difficult task but Tales from the Borderlands manages to pull it off here in a splendid way.
It is worth noting that players will be spending only a small amount of time actually exploring anything in Escape Plan Bravo as most of their time will be spent simply selecting dialogue responses as well as taking part in some quick time events. That being said, this episode does move at a much slower pace than past episodes as there is only one major action sequence and even then it is played entirely for laughs.
This slow pace doesn’t really damage the title too much but don’t expect much customization either. Players can choose once again to use money to alter Fiona and Sasha’s appearances, though this time it is required. Rhys’ enhanced Echo Eye continues to be a delight as all of the updated descriptions of environmental objects and people from Handsome Jack are littered with great jokes and references, especially since one moment does signify how this AI was created before certain events in Borderlands 2.
Visuals & Audio
As with past episodes Escape Plan Bravo continues to look great thanks to the Borderlands aesthetic blending in well with what Telltale is used to. A number of different customization options in the past will show up once again here depending on what you selected which means that there may be a few cosmetic differences here and there. Some great facial expression animations really help make the aforementioned slow-motion sequence stand out which could have fallen flat otherwise and these expressive faces continue to delight throughout the episode.
The voice actors perform their roles well and really help serve up some great jokes in this episode thanks to proper delivery while the soundtrack is fairly standard fair for a Borderlands title minus of course the exceptionally well-fitting song performed during the intro slow-mo sequence.
Attempting to create something new and entertaining within an ongoing storyline that the company usually has no control over has given some of Telltale’s past titles noteworthy limitations. However with Tales from the Borderlands taking place in an area where the company isn’t’ shackled by another work such as a television show, the company has so far managed to expand on Borderlands’ lore a bit and now that Tales from the Borderlands: Escape Plan Bravo they have likely made a change that will play a significant role if a third game is ever made. While the story may slow down a bit this time around, it takes players on an emotional roller-coaster and has left me excited to see how everything will wrap up in the end.
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