When Telltale Games announced that their newest project would take place in the Borderlands universe, the gaming world let out a collective “huh?” The Borderlands series from Gearbox Software is certainly beloved, but it seemed odd that they would take on another game franchise for their next adventure series. While initially there was a lot of doubt surrounding how Tales from the Borderlands would pan out, I’m happy to report that the first episode isn’t just amazing – it’s some of the best work Telltale has ever done.

Tales from the Borderlands has you take on two playable roles: Rhys, a company man trying to work his way up the Hyperion Corporation; and Fiona, a con artist from the streets of Pandora. Telltale elects to this story in a Quentin Tarintino-style way by starting form the end and retelling the events from both Rhys and Fiona’s perspectives. Rhys thinks he’s in for a big promotion at Hyperion, until he finds out the boss he’d been brown nosing for so long had been jettisoned out into space by Rhys’ self appointed new boss, Vasquez, who isn’t terribly fond of Rhys and demotes him to a janitor. Furious from this series of unfortunate events, Rhys gathers his co-workers and friends, Vaughn and Yvette, to help him intercept a vault key deal that he overheard Vasquez setting up during his demotion. Meanwhile on Pandora, Fiona is helping her sister Sasha set up a con deal. Without giving too much away, the deal goes south quick and soon Fiona and Sasha find themselves with Rhys and Vaughn as both groups try and pick up the pieces and come out alive.


Rhys and Fiona, the two playable characters

It’s delightfully refreshing to see Telltale have a more lighthearted universe to work with this time around. Unchained from the more serious worlds of The Walking Dead and Fables, we get to see Telltale flex its humorous muscle that we’ve seen small glimpses of in the lighthearted moments in the aforementioned games and from their very first games. Hilarious situations and set-ups are aplenty, and I can’t remember laughing as loudly and as often as I did during this first episode.

What makes the humor work so magnificently is the chemistry of the cast. When Rhys and Fiona’s respective groups meet, it’s a constant barrage of witty banter and targeted insults. Most noteworthy is the chemistry between Rhys (voiced by Troy Baker) and Vaughn (voiced by Chris Hardwick), because they play well off of each other and their friendship seems organic and natural. The cocky nature of Rhys and the oft-worried Vaughn often make their interactions between themselves and with other characters a shoot out of quips, and if one of them is involved in a scene, there’s sure to be a highlight moment.


If you’ve ventured into Telltale’s other games like The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us, you”ll be right at home with the style of gameplay, which hasn’t changed much at all. You’ll still primarily be choosing dialogue in conversations to build relationships with other characters, and there’s a handful of quick time event prompts during more action-oriented scenes, though there aren’t too many in this first episode.

Perhaps what I love most about Tales from the Borderlands is that it’s made me love a universe I didn’t love before. Borderlands certainly has its characters and mascots, but it’s never had characters to root for.  It not only shows Telltale’s pedigree with character creation, but also its ability to take a franchise and make it their own. Tales from the Borderlands was admittedly my least anticipated Telltale game, but it’s arguably the best episode Telltale’s ever created.

This review was played on a PC, and I experienced very few instances of slow down, which has unfortunately plagued most Telltale games, specifically on consoles.

It’s hard to find anything to dislike about Telltale’s first venture into the crazy world of Pandora, and any minor issue I came across was instantly eclipsed by the great set pieces and hilarious dialogue that is dripping throughout the entire episode. The cast of characters – which are voice acted brilliantly – are instantly likable, and I can’t wait to see where Telltale goes with the unlikely team in future episodes. Telltale Games makes Tales from the Borderlands a must play for those with even the faintest interest in the Borderlands Universe, and those who haven’t yet set foot in Pandora will find a lot to love, too.

This review is based on a review copy of the PC version provided by Telltale Games.

Perfection in Pandora | Tales from the Borderlands: Episode One - Zero Sum Review
  • Instantly likable cast of characters
  • Chemistry of the cast, specifically Rhys and Vaughn
  • Writing drips of great humor
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About The Author

Josh is a Senior Editor for New Gamer Nation. He'd love to chat with you about games on Twitter.