Top 100 Games of All-Time: #75

Tales From The Borderlands

Release Date: November 25, 2014 (Ep. 1) – October 20, 2015 (Ep. 5)

Platform Played On: PS4

2018 Placement: #59 (-16)


What It Is:

It’s another Telltale game in the same style that they got famous for. A mostly choice-oriented dialogue-based game with some action quick-time events and a few puzzles scattered throughout. And like most of their games it’s expanding on someone else’s franchise. This time, however, it’s based in the video game world of Borderlands instead of a movie/book/comic property. And let me tell you, Telltale knocks it out of the park with this one.

The big sticking point with the Borderlands franchise for a lot of people isn’t its setting, it’s everything else. From the slightly-too-meme-y humor to the fact that it’s made by Gearbox (whose CEO is Randy Pitchford, a strange case all by himself), there are a lot of reasons that some people don’t like the franchise. Telltale takes the Borderlands universe to its utmost and tells the best story yet, using new and old characters while doing it. It keeps the same tone but puts a new twist on the humor and it ended up being not only Telltale’s best work, but the best game associated with Borderlands and a testament to letting developers make different genre games in established universes.

Why It’s Important to Me:

With Telltale games, I always waited until the entire season of episodes was released before diving in. And I basically binged Tales of the Borderlands because the story kept me glued to my screen for the entire game. The characters and humor are fantastic, the plot twists are excellent, and the game itself is just worth every positive adjective you can come up with.

It’s a game I hold in high regard because it’s not a “game”-heavy game but still keeps me entertained and involved. Most of the decisions are dialogue-based and the choices it makes you make are some of the best of Telltale’s work. While the story itself is more on rails than Batman: Enemy Within, the execution of the plot and seeing the results of your decisions is still world-class. And this game came off the heels of Borderlands 2 when I was at my most interested in Borderlands so seeing fantastic writing in a universe I adored just make me swell up with pride and tears.

My Strongest Memory:

The Borderlands franchise is known for having awesome song introductions for each of their games – the first starts with Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked, for example. Tales from the Borderlands keeps up this trend for each of their five episodes and let me tell you, the intros for both chapters 3 and 4 not only have awesome songs that were immediately added to my playlist after hearing them, but were also intros that kept me hooked and I watched from start to finish even though they were credit sequences. Here’s the chapter 3 intro – just watch it – and look how it not only gives you easy characterizations of all the main characters as well as being entertaining on top of a jam.

I’ll also include the chapter 4 intro, but be warned, it has a song that goes under the classification of “song you can’t help but sing emphatically with your fist clenched towards the sky.” You know the kind of songs I’m talking about. So I remember both of these intros very fondly. But in addition, something happens shortly after the episode 4 intro where I was absolutely blown away that they had the balls to do it in a spin-off game. I won’t spoil it here but it was one of the most shocking moments in the entire Borderlands franchise and that’s saying something.

Why It’s #75:

It’s been a while since I played this but whenever I think about this game I get a dumb smile on my face. And I can instantly hear both “The Pieces of the People We Love” and “To The Top” and see the intros in my mind. It’s a weird comfort game that I would enjoy playing again with people so they can witness the story. It’s hilariously stupid at times and utterly heartfelt at other times. Just a perfect mix for a narrative-focused game. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go sing “To The Top” again with my fist clenched in the air.