REVIEW – After the demise of Telltale’s original form, there was no way to produce a sequel of the same style and quality as the episodic first game. It didn’t work out for Gearbox Quebec, so it’s probably not an exaggeration to say that New Tales From The Borderlands was the worst game in the franchise, which doesn’t reflect well on it or Gearbox.
Steam’s synopsis: “Decide the fates of altruistic scientist Anu, her ambitious, “streetwise” brother Octavio, and the fierce, frogurt-slinging Fran. Claw and con your way through five thrilling chapters!”
In the original Tales from the Borderlands, Rhys and Fiona’s story was well-rounded and entertaining in its own right. The comparison with it is justified on all fronts, as both are within the same franchise and style. Except (as the game’s name suggests), it comes with NEW tales. Anu is a brilliant but psychologically neglected scientist. Octavio is her adopted brother who is street-smart but not that clever, and he works for the erratic, crazy Fran in the floating wheelchair (okay, that was a bad joke, a hoverchair). The characters are unique, and perhaps the most identifiable is Anu, as Fran tends to go close and personal with everyone, while Octavio also goes to extremes. The synergy is there, but the interaction between the three characters seems somehow forced. In Tales from the Borderlands, it felt more natural to see the two main characters helping each other and bonding. At least the story starts strong, as an invasion brings the three heroes together, whose backstory we quickly get to know, and then, we immediately focus on the primary target, a healing gun.
The three characters discover a new chemical element that can heal any wound (regardless of its severity), but, as expected, it leads to conflict. While it sounds reasonably good as a start, it drags its feet too much by the time it gets to the end, and the humor typical of the franchise is in vain, as the jokes don’t always work, and there were more than a few instances where there was no reaction to a quip. In many cases, the scenes felt overlong, and it can last for minutes in all five chapters, even with the action scenes. The first three chapters felt strong, but the fourth felt like a turn upside down, as it felt surprisingly dull and disappointing. And no, the QTEs (suddenly, you have to press a button, mainly popularised by Resident Evil 4 in 2005) don’t change it positively. The same can be said for the beat’em up minigame that forces you to mash the buttons (it’s Vaultlanders; it doesn’t change significantly), and the hacking puzzles don’t improve the atmosphere either. It’s as if all of these were put into the game as an afterthought to make it not so short (padding is inadequate, m’kay?). It would have been better without them or, at most used once during the whole game. It is tedious as it is.
Fortunately, it’s not entirely hopeless (true, it’s fitting for the franchise since it’s not precisely a civilized world) because the actors behind the characters and their performances weren’t that bad. It could probably be argued that they saved New Tales From The Borderlands from a 5/10 rating. Another positive could be said to be the presentation of the Psychos differently, as Anu unexpectedly saves one. The name is Stapleface, and it could have had more of a presence.
The same could be said for the Tediore (they started the corporate invasion…) gun named Brock, which comes with many emotional issues. Somehow, Gearbox Quebec managed to screw it up here, too, because in almost every case, it’s a case of someone reacting to an emotional scene in an almost inhumanly clumsy humorous way. Even when someone dies, death is indeed an element of Borderlands (death is natural, as you need to kill enemies to loot and get new guns), but it was almost distasteful to see and hear. It’s as if Gearbox was trying to make the players laugh at all costs, and the gameplay and even the atmosphere paid a heavy price for it, which is why it was mentioned at the very beginning of the character bunch that this is probably the worst Borderlands game.
New Tales From The Borderlands gets a six out of ten because it has the basics of the story and the cel-shaded visual style typical of the franchise. Still, apart from these elements, it has shortcomings or flaws in everything, and because of it, the original Tales From The Borderlands is far more enjoyable. It became dissonant: the minigames almost didn’t fit the game, and there were perhaps too many QTEs. Because of it, we cannot recommend this game (mainly on PC, because Gearbox put Denuvo in it.) If the story had been more engaging and the Borderlands insanity had been represented here and there, it would have scored a seven out of ten. Instead, it achieved an uninstall. Good luck with the fourth and fifth episodes, which will be hard to get through, even for a Borderlands fan. What a pity. It should have been better.
+ Performance of dubbing voices
– Synergy between characters
– Forced minigames
– Boring here and there
Publisher: 2K (Take-Two)
Developer: Gearbox Quebec
Style: Action, adventure
Release: October 21, 2022.