Tales from the Borderlands: Episode One - Zer0 Sum (PlayStation 4) Review

By Drew Hurley 24.12.2014 2

Review for Tales from the Borderlands: Episode One - Zer0 Sum on PlayStation 4

This is the first of five bi-monthly episodes incoming from Telltale Games based on the Borderlands franchise. It's an interesting idea, a spin off title of a manic first person shooter as an interactive story game. The themes, writing and universe of Borderlands have always been fan favourites so the new genre should be just as popular… but is it?

Telltale Games takes on another well loved franchise with Tales from the Borderlands on PlayStation 4, a game based on a franchise already made into a game series instead of being based on comics, movies or TV. Can Telltale's version live up to the original, and will it be just for fans of 2K's releases or will it find a whole new audience?

Tales from the Borderlands is set after the events of Borderlands 2, yet no prior knowledge of the series is required as there are some references to Handsome Jack, Vaults and their Hunters - the world is all set up within the story.

The game follows two protagonists from the opposite sides of the war for Pandora. First there is Rhys, an executive for the evil empire of the series "Hyperion," who is a cynical smartass trying to climb the Hyperion corporate ladder. On the opposite end of the spectrum is Fiona, a resident of Pandora who has had to steal to stay alive since she was a little girl.

This first episode starts out with Rhys telling his kidnapper how he came to be on Pandora. It's a bit of an old trope but works well and playing through Rhys' version of events with his elaborations makes for a fun tale, especially when it comes to playing as Fiona and seeing the same events from her point of view. There are even some options for the player to tailor how the story progresses.

Each character comes with its own unique features. For instance, Rhys is heavily augmented using Hyperion technology, resulting in a robotic arm, a port on his head directly into his brain and an "ECHO Eye" (more on that later). After the fall of Handsome Jack, Rhys is working his way up the corporate ladder when he finds his office nemesis Vasquez (played by the superb Patrick Warburton) is already standing at the top. Rhys is demoted to janitor but, after overhearing Vasquez' plan to buy a vault key, he and his two best friends, Vaughn the typical doormat nerdy accountant and Yvette from requisitions, team up to try and snatch the deal from Vasquez.

On the opposite side there is the seller of the vault key, Fiona, who, along with her sister Sasha, has been stealing to stay alive since childhood. On one such theft they got caught by their mark, Felix. In Fiona's own words, Felix taught them how to do it right - he raised them and they became a family. Their latest scam had them selling the vault key that Vasquez was planning to buy.

Screenshot for Tales from the Borderlands: Episode One - Zer0 Sum on PlayStation 4

This is immediately recognisable as a Borderlands title; the series' signature dark humour is strewn throughout and is as superb as ever. There are many very funny laugh-out-loud moments right from the get go. The previously mentioned "ECHO eye" that Rhys has is a good source for these moments, and scanning different items results in comedy gold descriptions from it. The comedy goes on and on; Tales from the Borderlands is one of those games that can evoke fits of very real laughter.

Fiona brings with her a new feature to the Telltale games - although many have used an inventory system, Fiona has a wallet. There are a number of ways of collecting cash throughout this episode and a few ways to spend it, too. It's very limited in this first episode but hopefully it will be expanded upon later, where frugal players will find new options appearing thanks to saving up.

The humour might be more like Telltale's revival of Sam and Max, but the puzzles are not, and Tales from the Borderlands sticks with the current theme of Telltale's titles - narrative-heavy and lacking any real puzzles. It's one aspect of the Telltale games that feel a little lacking.

It does, however, push a bit more action into the game, which makes sense for a series based heavily on gunplay. The action moments are great and hopefully will grow in the future. The combat feels like that introduced in The Wolf Among Us and the gun combat uses a customisable mech, which is a real highlight.

The end of the episode has one of the best set-ups for the future episodes of all of the Telltale series, grasping the player with promises of what's to come that will make the next episode seem to take forever to arrive.

Screenshot for Tales from the Borderlands: Episode One - Zer0 Sum on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

The comedy, the story choices, the setup - it's all done well in Tales from the Borderlands: Episode One - Zer0 Sum. The next episodes can't come quick enough! Grab the season pass and enjoy waiting with baited breath for each episode to be released. The team here at Cubed3 certainly will be!









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   


Makes no sense how this AND OTHER TellTale games aren't available on the Wii U....and no the Home Star Runner, Monkey Island, Sam & Max or Lego City Games aren't enough....

It is not wise to speak on subjects you do not know all facts about, nor is it smart to judge a game based on looks alone. PSN: Nintendo_Gamer 3DS: 4296-3029-7422

I know what you mean, it'd be such a good fit with the gamepad and the extra functionality it could provide. Here's hoping one day!

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