Tales from the Borderlands: Episode Two - Atlas Mugged (PlayStation 4) Review

By Drew Hurley 29.03.2015

Review for Tales from the Borderlands: Episode Two - Atlas Mugged on PlayStation 4

The first episode of Tales from the Borderlands, Zer0 Sum, set a considerably high bar, with some fantastic storytelling and great comedy moments, along with some really great three dimensional characters. Can this second episode, Atlas Mugged, meet the standards set? As with all episodic reviews from Cubed3 there are spoilers for previous episodes, so please beware…

This episode suffered from slight delays but it was well worth the wait to be thrown back into the world of Pandora with Rhys and Fiona as they continue their tale to the Bounty Hunter who has captured them. As with all Telltale games, it's hard to give a good review without giving too much away, since the real strength of the game are the storytelling elements. Immediately, the first episode is recapped in a cool comic book style based on the choices made in the first episode. Regardless of choices, the big story beats from episode one can be summed up quite simply.

The first protagonist, Fiona, and her surrogate family, try to scam Hyperion boss Vasquez with a fake vault key. Vasquez's rival, and the second protagonist, Rhys, with his friends, try to steal Vasquez's deal to buy the, unbeknownst to them, fake vault key. The sale is interrupted by the bounty hunter Zer0 and his target, Bossanova, makes off with the money and everyone heads off in pursuit. After a lot of violence, humour, and some betrayal, the money is destroyed and the unlikely group find themselves in a secret bunker with some strange technology and a lot of angry people hot on their heels.

Screenshot for Tales from the Borderlands: Episode Two - Atlas Mugged on PlayStation 4

That brings everything up to date, with the ensemble cast of miscreants in a bunker with a ghost and the mysterious "Gortys Project." This episode separates the two protagonists and works through reuniting them once again, allowing each to develop and grow while introducing newcomers. It's this character development that continues to be one of the biggest strengths of the series. The primary cast is very likeable and this episode continues to show them off. Fiona has had a more dramatic story arc - the hard childhood, now losing her surrogate father, and a betrayal at that. Now she's not sure of her place in the world and is just short-sightedly looking for that big payoff. Atlas Mugged lets her try out her feminine wiles and her… surgical… skills.

Rhys, in the meantime, developed from quite clearly a "bad guy" to more the loveable rogue. If Han Solo and Malcolm 'Mal' Reynolds taught people anything, it was that this type of character is going to instantly become a fan favourite. His bumbling and charismatic manner, along with his grey morality scale, works really well throughout and he becomes a highly likeable character. Rhys, at the end of the last episode, found a small side effect to plugging unknown software into his brain when he found what seemed to be a hologram of Handsome Jack that only he could see. This is further developed through this episode and leads to some great prospects.

Screenshot for Tales from the Borderlands: Episode Two - Atlas Mugged on PlayStation 4

Speaking of Handsome Jack, along with him there are a handful of new characters here, some completely new - like the bounty hunters that are tracking the party (don't mention their hair!) - and some established characters from the Borderlands universe. Handsome Jack is a fantastic addition introduced as the new best "frenemy" and somehow Hyperion is aware of him and eager to get their hands on Rhys' head to acquire him.

The story is still told in past tense of what happened, each from alternating points of view - from Rhys and Fiona in their captured state. It's great to see how they look at this time in the future and try to guess what has happened to them through the story. The storytelling continues to be a fantastic device, allowing for surprising moments and failures in QTEs to be explained away as the storyteller remembering something wrong, elaborating, or just flat out lying. It also goes for some great funny moments as they lie about what each other did in the past, trying to make each other look worse and themselves look better. Fiona's retelling of how much the "Bros" Rhys and Vaughn totally love each other bro, totally bro, bro. Bro! is a great example.

Screenshot for Tales from the Borderlands: Episode Two - Atlas Mugged on PlayStation 4

The gameplay has a little more environmental exploration but sadly still no problem solving, but that's to be expected really. What is a little unexpected is there is no shooting section. The loader bot does make a return but not in a playable way, which is a pity as it was an interesting experiment in the last episode that would have been good to expand upon.

Being at the awkward second episode point, Atlas Mugged is full of exposition and setup for the later chapters, with plenty of explanation and the moving of pieces towards a greater picture that's hard to see right now. It feels a little like there's not been a lot of progress or resolution throughout. This is easily ignored, however, considering so many aspects of this are simply superbly done; from the fantastically stylish opening, the comedy responses in tense situations, to the great soundtrack and simply amazing voice work.

Screenshot for Tales from the Borderlands: Episode Two - Atlas Mugged on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Tales from the Borderlands is already on par with the best Telltale has put out previously, and is quickly becoming a contender for the top spot after this, Atlas Mugged. Those who aren't fans of the Telltale style will not find anything new here to change their minds and the limitations often complained about (lack of gameplay and interaction, for instance) are still there. However, for storytelling and compelling character development, this series is really impressing. This second episode feels a little slower (curse of episode two!) but even taken as a standalone it's superb. The storytelling and development are top notch, and if the low point is this good, it shows some much promise for the future.

Developer

Telltale

Publisher

Telltale

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

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   

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