A trend in recent years of gaming is taking existing games and expanding on them in new and creative ways. One of these games is Telltale Games’ “Tales from the Borderlands,” which takes shoot-and-loot, first person shooter and turns it into a vivid storytelling experience.
The original Borderlands was told through exploration, questing and the vivid characters that fill up the Borderlands universe. Questing and exploration, at least in an open world sense, were removed from the game, which left Tales completely dependent on its cast.
Telltale largely succeeded with this.
The first thing I noticed with Tales was the diversity in the character lineup. With two women (both of color) and two men paving the way, there were plenty of characters to relate to. Even better, the diversity remained intact when you zoom out and look at the cast as a whole. Rhys’ best friend, Yvette, serves as the brains to Vaughn’s brawn and Rhys’… Rhys-iness, is also a woman of color. The secondary antagonist is a powerful crime boss, who also happens to be female.
Let’s not forget the inclusion of two Borderlands veterans, Janey Springs and Athena, a power-couple hailing from Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel
Additionally, Tales is a story told by characters new and old. While Rhys and Fiona are inarguably the protagonists, old characters come, go and come again. With each interaction, bits of their story come out and those small snippets serve to further the main story overall.
Take, for example, Athena. The original Borderlands introduced the sword-swinging gladiatrix as a woman on a mission to destroy the Atlas corporation, a company that ruined her life. It becomes obvious in the second episode of Tales that she has not yet given up her mission.
And when Athena finally joins the traveling band of misfits, her grudge mission rears its head and serves to further the main plot.
If there is any failing when it comes to existing characters, it comes in the form of Handsome Jack.
While Rhys’ “internal” conflict with Jack was interesting, it was too much of the same content. Don’t get me wrong, Handsome Jack was a brilliant character and an amazing villain.
In Borderlands 2.
But now Tales has introduced a new, unexplored part of Pandora; its people. The presence of Fiona and Sasha, as well as everyone that came along with them, brought focus to the idea of surviving as a local.
Jack’s presence diminished that plot by returning to an already worn down, fully explored character.
Still, despite this minor blunder, Tales from the Borderlands manages to tell a brilliant story. Every character brings something to the table, and the union between original and existing characters allows for fans both new and old to come into the story.