When I put down the controller after finishing Tales from the Borderlands: The Vault of the Traveler, my smile – the one that was stuck on my face for the last two hours – melted away and I became depressed. Depressed at the fact that this series that’s blown me away from its first episode has finally ended, and this high standard of entertainment would be hard as hell to reach.
Telltale has taken a universe in Borderlands that I couldn’t care any less about and populated it with arguably the most memorable cast of characters I’ve ever encountered. Characters I’ve grown to love and many who I hope to see again soon in a (hopeful) second season. Telltale didn’t just knock a home run into the stands – they hit a moonshot into the parking lot.
Picking up right after episode four, Telltale still finds a way to squeeze humor out of even the most dire of situations the gang finds themselves in. We finally learn who the hooded figure is, and, without spoiling anything, it’s certainly intriguing.
What surprised me (pleasantly) was how long this final episode was. Just when I thought we reached the climax, a character comes back and before I knew it a whole new goal was established. This wouldn’t have worked with every other game, either. But because the characters are so engaging and the writing is so clever: more is always good.
Near the climax, you’ll be able to form a squad from characters you’ve met from earlier episodes. What’s interesting here is that certain variables can affect who can join your party. Someone may have died in a previous episode because of your choice, or they could be alive and can help you. Some are available because of certain conversations and interactions you’ve had with them. Currency even comes forward and can open up some options. I thought this was a really cool freedom to the player, and I got to work side-by-side with some characters that I really enjoyed from other episodes.
The final fight in the finale hits on so many notes that I didn’t know how to react. At one moment I’m laughing hysterically at a Power Rangers nod, and the next I’m on the edge of my seat wondering if certain characters are going to make it. This balancing act is handled with finesse, and the ability shown to switch at will is unseen and impressive, to say the least.
Technical issues are going to rear their ugly head in every Telltale episode until they fix their engine – it’s inevitable. It’s more evident this time around, because busy action scenes and jumps between characters occur more frequently. Playing through these hiccups feels like driving a stalling car down a freeway, and it’s annoying to have awesome scenes be tarnished by something that seems like it could be avoided. With hardware in PCs and current generation consoles, this shouldn’t happen.
The Vault of the Traveler is a confident, hilarious and insane finale – and I love almost every second of it. This is the bow on top of the present that is, for now, Telltale’s greatest series to date. You can practically feel the fun Telltale had creating this universe, and we should consider ourselves lucky that we can come along for the ride.
This review is based on a review copy of the PlayStation 4 version of Tales from the Borderlands – Episode 5: The Vault of the Traveler provided by Telltale Games.
- The final climax
- Consistently hilarious
- Fun team building segment
- Performance issues (still)