New Tales from the Borderlands is a graphic choice adventure video game developed by Gearbox Studio Quebec and published by 2K. The game allows players to navigate their way through situations through the use of dialogues and quick actions.
Since every dialogue alters long-term consequences, there’s a lot of depth involved, from how friendships are crafted to endgame. In short, every word spoken counts.
New Tales from the Borderlands: good characters – bad decisions
New Tales from the Borderlands can be described as a graphic adventure, with the classic Borderlands taking on any situation; Sarcastic voice lines, slapstick humor and, of course, Marcus, who happens to be the narrator (no surprise there).
However, as you peel back the layers of the game, there’s more to it than just more graphical adventure; unfortunately, not everything is well written or executed. Although I’m a “fanboy” of the franchise, New Tales from the Borderlands felt a little off to me in many ways.
For starters, the characters and their backstory are meant to grow in importance in the game. Yet, out of the three protagonists (not counting LOU13), only one really struck a chord. If you guessed Fran, you’re absolutely right. Throughout my 12 hours of play, she was consistent not only in character building, but also in writing.
From the moment you meet her until her sad demise (in my game), you can’t help but feel connected to her in some way. Whether it’s its approach to anger management issues or inappropriate in-game dialogue options; there is something for everyone to look forward to.
There’s no doubt that the voice actors of Anu and Octavio did a brilliant job voicing their respective characters, but their story and brother-sister dynamic were bland. Sometimes I just wanted their dialogue exchange to end, while at others I wished there was a skip option to bypass the lousy writing.
That said, there were a handful of heartfelt moments, but they were few and far between to have a real impact on the player’s perspective on the characters. Characters like Stapleface, LOU13, and Badass Superfan (yes, that’s his name) attracted me more to them throughout my game.
Luckily, aside from the main characters, the story itself sparked enough interest to make me want to finish the game and see what lurks at the end. Although things start off rather slow, they pick up halfway through and smooth out as things progress.
First impressions and gameplay
I’ll be honest, by the time the game started I was preparing for a pure Borderlands Experience – that’s exactly what I got. The early slapstick humor with Anu, Phuong and the escaped Jabbers was a hoot. This was followed by Octavio and his introduction to the script.
Shortly after, players encounter their first in-game puzzle, which I found useless throughout my playthrough. To put it into perspective, if a puzzle can be skipped, why add it in the first place?
I understand the need to break up the monotony of dialogue from time to time, but why add something that doesn’t make sense? Not having them in the game would be a better option as it won’t disrupt the story telling. They are not at all difficult to complete, but they can be confusing the first time.
It wasn’t until LOU13 hit the scene that things got interesting. Help him murder an individual by having him say his name was classic Borderlands. However, the real gameplay (at least for me) started with Fran.
His larger-than-life personality (no pun intended) on many levels is what made me want to play New Tales from the Borderlands. Her character and writing stand out from the crowd and give off a classy Borderlands feel.
There was never a dull moment with her, and I felt absolutely terrible that I couldn’t save her in the end. Next comes his floating chair. The gadget is filled to the brim with devices capable of helping Fran create an incredible Froyo as well as freeze and/or suck opponents into the lower realms.
Mash buttons to perform combat moves with Fran during quick events felt beyond satisfying. However, I have to admit that other quick events around Anu using his healing device (which is definitely not a gun) were also enjoyable.
That said, I don’t understand the logic behind Vaultlander duels. The first time this happened after leaving the vault was fun. Something new to try, but after a certain point it gets weird. The only thing that kept me glued to these battles was waiting to hear the dialogue exchange between the characters and Badass Superfan (again, yes, that’s his name).
Coming to the game itself, it looks stunning. The limited amount I was able to walk around and explore areas was fun. While this pales in comparison to other FPS looter shooter IPs in the franchise, it felt good to be able to do this in New Tales from the Borderlands.
Each cut scene was filled to the brim with detail, and there was plenty to do at every turn. This particular level where the characters explored a vault was really enjoyable. Anu tried to search for clues, with Octavio running away from a Vault monster and Fran asking if anyone needed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
Speaking of monsters, I wasn’t entirely convinced with Susan Coldwell as the main antagonist. Although she did play the part, the whole plot to stop her evil plans seemed a little too practical. For a corporate supervillain, she didn’t put up a fight one would expect, given the storyline.
Unfortunately, towards the end of the game, things stalled. Once the vault entity took over, it was dialogue after dialogue that felt more like a memory game than a decision-making graphical adventure. The fast pace that was relatively important after Tediore’s invasion of Promethea was in reverse. While a lot of soul-searching was done, which created a sort of redemption arc, it was kind of… well, boring.
By the end of the main plot, I was left with more questions than emotions as one should feel after crashing into a planet. On that note, I wish I could have saved LOU13 and Fran; maybe then the ending would have felt saner.
New Tales from the Borderlands, provided by 2K, was played on the system with the following configuration:
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 5800X
- GPUs: RTX 3070 8GB
- RAM: 32 GB
Personally, the game worked like a charm. There was no lag and no visible stutter. However, I encountered problems with GeForce Experience. For some reason, the game was not saving on the app, due to which I occasionally missed amazing screenshots.
Despite all the flaws and some not-so-over-the-top write-ups for certain segments of the game, I have to admit that I had a great time playing it. Do I wish Anu and Octavio were written better? Absolutely, but are they unbearable? Maybe not, but the game has a lot to offer when it comes to replayability.
With each dialogue option dictating the outcome of scenarios, players can spend a lot of time perfecting a game (or Google for quick achievements).
Truth be told, I can’t wait to start over and see the outcome of different choices, but I think I’ve had enough of New Tales from the Borderlands, at least for now. That said, the game is very far from The Borderlands Tree on many fronts, but it still manages to be good for what it sets out to be.
However, for my part, I look forward to a sequel. Seeing the characters continue on their journey of healing the world, fighting the abominations in the vault, and getting 10/10 skateboards from LOU13 would be perfect.
New Tales from the Borderlands
Reviewed on: PC (revision code provided by 2K)
Platform: Windows computer
Developer: Gearbox Studio Quebec
Exit: October 21, 2022