PS4 Review: Tales from the Borderlands – Season 1: Episode 1: Zer0 Sum

Telltale sets their sights on Pandora…

I only finished the first Borderlands a few months ago and haven’t made a crack at the DLC, or Borderlands 2 and haven’t got around to picking up the Pre-sequel yet…so I had a fair idea of what the series was about, but was a little lost as the “Tales” series seems to take place between the ones I’ve not played yet. I did however; find a whole new appreciation for the original…
Episode 1 takes place on Pandora and the story follows two groups of characters, brought together by a deal for a Vault Key, which turns out to be fake. Rhys (Troy Baker, famous for being in more or less every videogame ever) is a Hyperion worker who tries to make the deal to outdo his boss Vasquez (voiced by Joe Swanson from Family Guy AKA Patrick Warburton) with stolen funds from Hyperion. The deal is between Rhys and his colleague Vaughn and August (Nolan North, also famous for mass-videogame voice acting) as well as Fiona and Sasha who are sisters. Then there’s Felix, an old con artist who took the sisters in when they were young.

The deal goes sideways, obviously and a small fortune gets nabbed in the confusion. You won’t get to make that many tough decisions, apart from 1 or 2…the episode is more about getting to know the characters and the world of Pandora, which is full of insanity-induced enemies and monsters, as well as a kick-ass ninja with a katana. The two groups unite to recover the money and split it between them, which results in some pretty crazy action scenes involving a death race.
If you’ve played past Telltale games, then the gameplay will feel familiar. The choices and quicktime events are used as you would expect, while still having that Borderlands look and feel to it. I was sceptical about the series from the beginning, but after about 10 minutes I knew Telltale made the right choice. It may not be the longest episode, but it does set up things for a fantastic and hilarious 5-parter where no doubt we’ll see more of Vasquez, who is ruthless and my favourite character, mostly because he sounds exactly like Joe from Family Guy, heh.

Visually, the game retains the cel-shaded look of Borderlands while looking so much crisper and detailed than the actual game it’s based of, making me pine for the Borderlands series in 1080p…which I hope we get at some point! The animation is smooth and there doesn’t seem to be any drop in framerate that I could see. Voice-acting is superb as you can imagine when you have the likes of Nolan North, Troy Baker and Patrick Warburton onboard. Kudos to Telltale for landing them, while the music as ever is brilliant thanks to Jared Emerson-Johnson…keep it up!

The Verdict

Zer0 Sum is a great opener for the Tales’ series. It reintroduces you to Pandora’s harsh nature, while unleashing a great cast of characters, hilarious dialogue and making you want more and more. It may be over quickly, but it does set things up nicely for Episode 2. I can’t wait to see what Telltale do with the series, but if this first episode is any indicator, then we are in for a real treat.