“Catch a Ride!!!”
*This review may contain spoilers for the series
Telltale Games is largely known for its episodic renditions of heavy content such as The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us. It was a huge risk to take on a franchise like Borderlands and adapt it to their game style. The result for the prior three episodes was an action-packed misadventure with hilarity that does Gearbox justice. Escape Plan Bravo dares to give the series much more than clever jokes – it packs an incredible amount of heart that I didn’t think the citizens of Pandora could muster. However, Telltale unfortunately packs a lot of the episode’s punch early on and doesn’t always satisfy the rest of the episode in an equal manner.
The previous episode left our heroes at the mercy of Vallory and her vault hunters. Rhys, Fiona, Sasha, and Gortys are placed with the task of obtaining the beacon for the Vault of the Traveller. With the help of Handsome Jack, still living in Rhys’s systems, a good old-fashioned heist that doesn’t pan out as well as one would hope is what takes place. The episode will hook you in from the get-go, as our beloved characters, with the help of good old Scooter, assemble their ship to space and blast off toward Helios.
One particular feature worth mentioning is the masterful intro cinematics that Telltale delivers in every entry to this series. Varying in style, each musical accompaniment sets the tone for the overall mood of the episode. Escape Plan Bravo features a powerful track titled “To the Top” by Twin Shadow. I say in nearly every review that soundtracks can elevate a game to something special. I knew I was getting something different the minute the rocket elevated and the first notes struck.
What follows in space is one of the most heartfelt moments I’ve seen in a Telltale game since The Walking Dead season one, episode five. Without giving spoilers, I can only say that pulling off daring plans doesn’t always end happily for those we care about. And sometimes, we only realize how much we care for certain individuals once it is too late. Yes, a Borderlands game successfully brought a tear to my eye, and I couldn’t be happier about it.
Unfortunately, after a series of major events, the episode comes to a frustratingly slow pace. It’s understandable that a successful infiltration requires subtlety as opposed to frantic action, but it ultimately leads to some silly hijinks that aren’t always exciting. It acts as a point of slowdown as compared to last episode’s frantic combat moments. Players would like to see more of Sasha or Gortys, but the majority of the episode focuses almost entirely on Rhys, Fiona, and Jack.
That being said, the episode packs one of the most hilarious and creative scenes ever concocted for the Borderlands universe. A rather insane imaginary shoot-out using fingers takes place between Rhys and Hyperion accountants. Does Rhys survive this oh-so dangerous scenario? You’ll have to play to find out. Escape Plan Bravo even goes as far to give you potential reasons that Handsome Jack may have a heart after all. Can you trust a madman? These are the things you’ll need to decide for yourself.
Overall, Escape Plan Bravo packed some of the highest points in the series, but also some of the weakest instances of gameplay. It proudly demonstrates the range of emotion that the world can offer, and is an example of strong character development within the short episode format. The series leaves us off with a cliffhanger, causing us to wonder how on Pandora Rhys and Fiona will be able to finally free themselves of Hyperion grasp. Tales From the Borderlands continues to be one of Telltale’s greatest achievements.