Tales from the Borderlands: Episode Two – Atlas Mugged

Tales from the Borderlands: Episode Two – Atlas Mugged

Game Review by Natasha Bissett | 01 Apr 2015
  • Tales from the Borderlands: Episode Two - Atlas Mugged
Game title: Tales from the Borderlands: Episode Two - Atlas Mugged
Publisher: Telltale Games
Release date: 17 March 2015
Price: £18.99 for a season pass

Although you don’t need to have played Tales from the Borderlands: Episode One, or even the main Borderlands franchise, it would make sense that anyone playing this game is already somewhat familiar with the first episode and what the Borderlands franchise is about. Either way, the release of Tales from the Borderlands: Episode Two – Atlas Mugged coincides perfectly with the launch of the Borderlands series on next-gen consoles with the Handsome Collection.  As an ideal accompaniment to the Collection, Episode Two has nods to both featured games. Set after Borderlands 2 and the demise of Handsome Jack, we also meet characters from The Pre-Sequel, including assassin Athena and everyone’s favourite Aussie sheila, Janey Springs.

The action resumes with our heroes Fiona and Rhys held captive by the Mysterious Stranger and the two recalling their adventures to find a mysterious weapons bunker hidden by the defunct Atlas Corporation. For most of the episode Rhys, Fiona and their respective sidekicks are going their separate ways to meet at Atlas’ Old Town, and they bid to outdo each other in the action-packed retelling of their stories. If you don’t remember what happened before, don’t worry, Russian gun-runner Marcus will give you the rundown.

Like the first episode, established Borderlands fans will probably feel they’re watching a television episode rather than playing a game. There’s a lot less combat and a lot more dialogue, and the pace is slower and easier although it's a nice change of pace from the constant battles of the main franchise. Like the main games, there’s a predictable gruesome humour reminiscent of the darker humour in classic point-and-click adventures like Monkey Island. When your options to activate a retinal scanner involve a corpse (who may or may not actually be dead) and a spork to the eye, you see where this is going right?

There’s a bit more depth added to the characters in this episode through some emotional choices you need to make along with repercussions from Episode One. Fiona and her sister Sasha grapple with the betrayal of their surrogate dad Felix, whilst Rhys and Vaughn reaffirm their bro-mance. For Rhys, who may or may not have an unhealthy obsession with Handsome Jack, there’s the added bonus of having his ghostly spectre telling him what to do.  As the witless hero, it’s pretty clear Rhys is going to be out of his depth with that one.

Even the bad guys get some character development treatment. Patrick Warburton reprises his role as Hugo Vasquez, and his voice is perfect for the mostly meat-headed but self-absorbed power junkie.  He also reveals his own relationship with Handsome Jack as the besotted bootlicker. We see him as a spectre of what Rhys aspired to be while in Hyperion: successful and able to step into Jack’s boots. Although the game doesn’t shove it in your face, there’s also the opportunity to see where Rhys is becoming his own character away from that Hyperion mould.

Like Episode One and every good Netflix binge-show, this one leaves you on a cliff hanger as the gang unlock a secret Atlas device, surrounded by bad guys. Unlike Episode One though, this chapter offers more opportunity for diverse choices to shape the characters how you want them, and to decide the story more directly. There’s laughs to be had, definite groan-worthy moments, and the feeling that sometimes you’re being taken for a ride only to wonder ‘how did we end up here?’ There’s enough action to keep it interesting and make sure you don't put the controller to one side, but it’s relaxed enough that you don’t have to be sitting on the edge of your seat, brow furrowed in concentration.

As it progresses, it's fascinating to see how giving over part of the series to another developer can introduce more to the franchise as a whole. As such, Tales from the Borderlands is, so far, an excellent addition to an already-excellent series.