This release marks the end of Tales From the Borderlands, at least the first season, and what a crazy ride it’s been. Episode 5 is no exception to that insanity, sporting a wide array of ridiculous situations that will keep you on edge and rooting for your favorite heroes as they finally take on what they’ve been searching for this whole time: the Vault of the Traveler. Caution, spoilers ahead.
The last episode ended with Handsome Jack plugging himself into Helios and taking it over, leaving Rhys stuck in a chair holding the beacon that Gortys needs to summon the vault. Episode 5 starts off looking pretty grim, with Fiona and Sasha caught by Yvette and Rhys about to be turned into a robot. Of course, the story can’t end just yet and through a bit of heroism and a lot of luck, the trio manage to all make it off Helios, bringing the ship crashing down to Pandora behind them.
While they made it off the ship, everyone was scattered in the maelstrom. Rhys awakens close to the wreckage and wanders into it, finding the remnants of the bridge and Handsome Jack. The conflict between these two finally comes to a head, with Rhys ripping Jack from his own after he’s tricked once again. Do you finally destroy Jack once and for all, or let his AI live on forever? It wouldn’t be a Telltale game if you didn’t get to make a choice like that, and I personally went with eternal imprisonment but a big part of me wanted to see him gone for good.
Fiona on the other hand is woken by the chaos that Vallory has summoned using Gortys and the beacon. The Vault of the Traveler has arrived, and the vault guardian along with it. It seems Gortys alone isn’t a match for the biggest guardian yet, and with Sasha’s help Fiona has to wreck the beacon to get rid of the vault and its guardian before everyone is killed in the action. It’s all pretty hectic, and I was only about half an hour in.
“There is an absolute ton of payoff in this final episode, as there should be, and Telltale does an amazing job of wrapping up the season with laughs, tears, and some epic loot for these would-be vault hunters.”
I’ll spare you the rest of the details and spoilers, but you do finally get to find out who that mysterious stranger is. There is an absolute ton of payoff in this final episode, as there should be, and Telltale does an amazing job of wrapping up the season with laughs, tears, and some epic loot for these would-be vault hunters. Some of the characters will shock you with how they turn out in the end. Just when you might be thinking that your choices didn’t matter all that much, you’re left with a tough decision based on how you played through the entire game that I didn’t see coming at all.
This is the biggest part of episode 5 that really makes it stand out on its own. For about half of it, you’re no longer telling a story and rehashing the past; you are in the present and now making choices that directly affect the outcome. That vault still needs to be looted somehow, and it’s up to you to make it happen. I have no doubt that these choices are still primarily just giving you the illusion of free will, but it’s done in such a way that you don’t even care or really second-guess it. Telltale Games once again delivers a system that makes you feel like you’re doing something important, when all it boils down to is quick-time-events and choosing A, B, C, or D. The lack of real gameplay doesn’t even matter though: you’re having fun, you’re hatching plans, and you’re about to kick some major ass.
Now that it’s the end of the season, admittedly TftB does feel like as a whole there was less exploration and gameplay than there has been in other Telltale products. While episode 5 moved back towards action and taking control, my only real complaint is that at times it felt a little bit too much like I was just watching a show and occasionally giving my input on the current situation. However, Vault of the Traveler redeems itself with some fantastic action sequences that are a ton of fun if you actually enjoy QTEs. There was also a bit more exploration than in the previous couple episodes, though admittedly not much as you’re still basically just walking down hallways.
All in all, this final episode is a great way to wrap up the first season of Tales from the Borderlands. You’re taken on an emotional roller coaster, you’ve been dragged all over Pandora, and there’s just something so incredibly charming about the series as a whole that you can’t help but smile at the end and wonder what’s to come next. I was dubious of TftB, but after this experience I don’t think I’ll ever doubt Telltale Games again. If you like the kind of narrative-driven games this studio makes, don’t miss out on Tales from the Borderlands. It’s easily their funniest creation yet.
***Reviewed on PC with a code provided by the publisher***
- Incredible Story
- Interesting Character Development
- Beautiful Artwork
- Needs More Actual Gameplay