In The Game: ‘New Tales from the Borderland’ is for Die-Hard Franchise Fans Only

Guest writer Ryan Breedon returns with a review of New Tales from the Borderlands on PlayStation 5.

For better or worse, Gearbox Software’s New Tales from the Borderlands is exactly what you would expect from the tin: a point-and-click adventure in the style of Telltale Games, set in the Borderlands universe, and written by Gearbox.

It is a successor to 2014’s Tales from the Borderlands, which had been developed by Telltale. Gameplay will be familiar to anyone who has ever played a Telltale game. This is a point and click adventure punctuated by frequent quick time events. The formula seemed novel in 2012, when The Walking Dead became a breakout hit for Telltale. This is no longer the case.

I am sure that there are gamers who really enjoy the Telltale formula, and those gamers will enjoy the gameplay in New Tales from the Borderlands. I am not one of them. I personally find the gameplay tedious, but have enjoyed most Telltale games due to the consistently strong writing, characterization, and stories. That brings us to the main issue with this new game.

Tales from the Borderlands was well-received mainly on the strength of its surprisingly good writing. The announcement that Gearbox be developing the follow-up in house was met with some scepticism, as writing and characterization are not notable strengths in the Borderlands franchise. That scepticism was well founded.

Writing in New Tales from the Borderlands is on a level with Borderlands 3. That is not a compliment.
Characters are paper thin and annoying. The writing itself is facile, punctuated by incoherent, jumping between the perspectives of the three protagonists seemingly at random. I worry that playing this game has made me stupider.

The biggest problem I had with New Tales from the Borderland is that, without a compelling story, I found it boring. Playing this game was a chore that literally put me to sleep. Technically, New Tales from the Borderland is fine. It looks fantastic and runs well on the PS5. The voice acting is uneven but acceptable, and music is serviceable.

From my perspective, the point of a review is to give the reader information to help them decide whether a game is worth their time. I think New Tales from the Borderland will appeal to two groups: die-hard fans of the Telltale Games formula, and die-hard fans of the Borderlands franchise, who enjoy the writing and “humour” of the mainline entries. For everyone else, this should be a hard pass.

Ryan Breedon is some guy on the internet who talks about slow video games and fast cars.

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