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Found 6 results

  1. We Happy Few turned a lot of heads when it debuted in 2015. Its intriguing premise of a drug-fueled utopia, combined with the Bioshock-esque presentation and gameplay, gave the impression of narrative-focused shooter on-par with Ken Levine’s work. That excitement turned to disappointment when the game’s multiplayer entered early beta in 2016. Even though developer Compulsion Games promised a single-player component from the beginning, an off-put player base didn’t react kindly to this first offering. They weren’t alone. My own enthusiasm for We Happy Few waned significantly in light of this direction. Fast-forward months later, and Compulsion has found a publisher in Gearbox Software. The financial backing of a triple-A publisher has allowed the developer to expand the project’s scope–particularly its single-player. After spending an hour with We Happy Few’s revamped story campaign, I can confidently say that it feels like the experience people wanted from the get-go. On a personal note, I fell in love with the project all over again. To quickly recap the game’s premise, We Happy Few takes place in the retrofuturistic city of Wellington Wells. Set in an alternate 1960’s Britain, citizens live their lives constantly hopped up on a drug called Joy. As the name suggests, the drug basically brainwashes them into a creepy, forced happiness, causing hallucinations and general insanity. Those who don’t take their Joy get labeled as Downers, and become exiled as enemies. The demo I played picked up immediately after the conclusion of the game’s E3 2016 trailer. Protagonist Arthur Hastings, a newspaper censor, (and one of three available characters) was outed as a Downer and narrowly evaded capture by the authorities. We last saw him enter the sewers where I continued his escape. I immediately felt the Bioshock vibes, from the quirky writing (though We Happy Few leans harder into black comedy territory) to the the exaggerated characters. Logs and books filling in the world’s lore littered environments for the player’s reading pleasure. Every piece of furniture, as well as bodies, can be searched for supplies. And search for supplies you should because We Happy Few focuses heavily on crafting and survival. Food, medical supplies, tools, and even clothing must be whipped up using random parts. Additionally, players can discover blueprints to make other items. As someone who enjoys picking up junk to create not-junk, I felt that unexplainable but familiar satisfaction of hoarding everything in sight and got excited for every new blueprint. Player’s maintain Arthur’s hunger and thirst by devouring food and water. Most of the food I found barely qualified as edible, so I needed to craft food poisoning remedies to keep on hand at all times. Maintaining Arthur’s statuses seemed like a potential burden, but these meters depleted slowly. I also frequently found food (albeit decayed), which left me to enjoy myself without stopping every few minutes to stuff Arthur’s face. The map’s enormous scale stood out as I roamed the scenic British countryside. In fact, my lengthy trek only uncovered a relatively small portion of it. Furthermore, the area I occupied only represented one of around five or six zones players explore. Needless to say, We Happy Few seems poised to offer plenty of game to across its roughly 20 hour campaign. A huge world needs plenty of side activities. We Happy Few features traditional NPC side-quests as well as extra objectives. I found maps that revealed dig spots where I unearthed buried treasure. Discovering certain ingredients opened up crafting quests which essentially acted as tutorials for assembling a new recipe. It remains to be seen just how much We Happy Few has to offer outside of the critical path, but the diversions I found left me feeling optimistic on that front. I eventually reached my objective: a dilapidated, poverty-stricken town. Its population appeared to consist of sullen Wellington Wells outcasts. Since they resented their former home, they didn’t take kindly to Arthur’s fancy city garb and proceeded to band together and give chase. I fled into a nearby church. Inside, I met a character recommending I tear up my clothing to appear more downtrodden. Blending into the surroundings is another crucial element of We Happy Few. That could involve posing as a exile on the outside or maintaining the illusion of Joy-fueled cheerfulness within Wellington Wells. After crafting a crappier version of my outfit, I stepped outside to greet the unruly mob. Upon noticing my new digs, they instantly shrugged and dissipated in a somewhat comedic moment. I could now freely explore the town. Citizen interactions have an Elder Scrolls-like flavor. For example, intruding into homes uninvited or getting caught stealing possessions can cause residents to violently retaliate. Now that I’ve successfully assimilated myself into the local populace, crossing a bridge to reach the next region became my next goal. I reached the gentleman guarding the bridge gate; however, it turned out a local gang swiped his precious war medals and he wouldn’t let me pass until I recovered them. Furthermore, I also needed to find a necessary power cell. To recover the medals, I had to locate and infiltrate the gang’s stronghold. Despite sneaking through a back opening undetected (one of multiple routes), the gang were prepared for intruders all along and captured me when I rode their elevator. The reason behind their setup: to lure potential competitors to battle to the death in their popular fighting arena. After stripping me of my belongings, the thugs led me into their battlefield. I met my opponent: a former associate of Arthur’s who blamed him for not publishing one of his articles in the newspaper. Arthur explained that the man’s piece blatantly plagiarized Arthur’s own work, but the man still swore revenge in a humorous exchange. I had the option of choosing to use non-lethal or deadly force. I went with the non-fatal pipe wrapped in padding. My adversary swiftly opted for a deadlier weapon, much to Arthur’s chagrin. Despite having this choice, We Happy Few doesn’t feature a morality mechanic. When I asked Compulsion’s Narrative Director Alex Epstein about this, he told me he’d rather players feel the consequences themselves rather than gamify it. Judging by this response, I wouldn't expect any horns to sprout on Arthur's head if you opt for a bloodier approach. Combat resembled the style of BioShock or Dishonored. The right shoulder button initiated attacks while the left shoulder button blocked. Players can also perform a guard-breaking shove. Picking up downed bodies and hurling them at opponents became my favorite offensive move for its silliness. After incapacitating the writer, more enemies entered the fray. I found it easy to drop foes by backing them into a corner and wailing on them, though I had to remain mindful of Arthur’s stamina meter. After finally beating my challengers, the gang allowed me to walk free, but I had no intention of leaving without accomplishing my mission. I snuck my way into the underbelly of the hideout. Navigating unseen, I creeped up behind unsuspecting foes and choked them out. To distract others, I lobbed glass bottles. These mechanics won’t surprise stealth fans, but players can access more abilities by unlocking them in the skill tree. I eventually found the gatekeeper’s medals, along with a power cell and my stolen inventory, and chose to escape without making a ruckus. After returning the medals to the grateful veteran, I passed through the gate and took a train to the next area. Unfortunately, I had to end things there before I could see what lay ahead. Had I not had to hoof it to another appointment, I’d have gladly kept playing. We Happy Few’s strange world begs to be explored, and I got hooked on gathering as many resources to make Arthur as capable as possible. With a world this large, We Happy Few will live or die based on the number of interesting things to do. Ultimately, I’m relieved to have substantial single-player component to sink my teeth into as the idea of the multiplayer doesn’t excite me in the same way. The wait for We Happy Few won’t last much longer, thankfully. It launches August 10 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  2. We Happy Few turned a lot of heads when it debuted in 2015. Its intriguing premise of a drug-fueled utopia, combined with the Bioshock-esque presentation and gameplay, gave the impression of narrative-focused shooter on-par with Ken Levine’s work. That excitement turned to disappointment when the game’s multiplayer entered early beta in 2016. Even though developer Compulsion Games promised a single-player component from the beginning, an off-put player base didn’t react kindly to this first offering. They weren’t alone. My own enthusiasm for We Happy Few waned significantly in light of this direction. Fast-forward months later, and Compulsion has found a publisher in Gearbox Software. The financial backing of a triple-A publisher has allowed the developer to expand the project’s scope–particularly its single-player. After spending an hour with We Happy Few’s revamped story campaign, I can confidently say that it feels like the experience people wanted from the get-go. On a personal note, I fell in love with the project all over again. To quickly recap the game’s premise, We Happy Few takes place in the retrofuturistic city of Wellington Wells. Set in an alternate 1960’s Britain, citizens live their lives constantly hopped up on a drug called Joy. As the name suggests, the drug basically brainwashes them into a creepy, forced happiness, causing hallucinations and general insanity. Those who don’t take their Joy get labeled as Downers, and become exiled as enemies. The demo I played picked up immediately after the conclusion of the game’s E3 2016 trailer. Protagonist Arthur Hastings, a newspaper censor, (and one of three available characters) was outed as a Downer and narrowly evaded capture by the authorities. We last saw him enter the sewers where I continued his escape. I immediately felt the Bioshock vibes, from the quirky writing (though We Happy Few leans harder into black comedy territory) to the the exaggerated characters. Logs and books filling in the world’s lore littered environments for the player’s reading pleasure. Every piece of furniture, as well as bodies, can be searched for supplies. And search for supplies you should because We Happy Few focuses heavily on crafting and survival. Food, medical supplies, tools, and even clothing must be whipped up using random parts. Additionally, players can discover blueprints to make other items. As someone who enjoys picking up junk to create not-junk, I felt that unexplainable but familiar satisfaction of hoarding everything in sight and got excited for every new blueprint. Player’s maintain Arthur’s hunger and thirst by devouring food and water. Most of the food I found barely qualified as edible, so I needed to craft food poisoning remedies to keep on hand at all times. Maintaining Arthur’s statuses seemed like a potential burden, but these meters depleted slowly. I also frequently found food (albeit decayed), which left me to enjoy myself without stopping every few minutes to stuff Arthur’s face. The map’s enormous scale stood out as I roamed the scenic British countryside. In fact, my lengthy trek only uncovered a relatively small portion of it. Furthermore, the area I occupied only represented one of around five or six zones players explore. Needless to say, We Happy Few seems poised to offer plenty of game to across its roughly 20 hour campaign. A huge world needs plenty of side activities. We Happy Few features traditional NPC side-quests as well as extra objectives. I found maps that revealed dig spots where I unearthed buried treasure. Discovering certain ingredients opened up crafting quests which essentially acted as tutorials for assembling a new recipe. It remains to be seen just how much We Happy Few has to offer outside of the critical path, but the diversions I found left me feeling optimistic on that front. I eventually reached my objective: a dilapidated, poverty-stricken town. Its population appeared to consist of sullen Wellington Wells outcasts. Since they resented their former home, they didn’t take kindly to Arthur’s fancy city garb and proceeded to band together and give chase. I fled into a nearby church. Inside, I met a character recommending I tear up my clothing to appear more downtrodden. Blending into the surroundings is another crucial element of We Happy Few. That could involve posing as a exile on the outside or maintaining the illusion of Joy-fueled cheerfulness within Wellington Wells. After crafting a crappier version of my outfit, I stepped outside to greet the unruly mob. Upon noticing my new digs, they instantly shrugged and dissipated in a somewhat comedic moment. I could now freely explore the town. Citizen interactions have an Elder Scrolls-like flavor. For example, intruding into homes uninvited or getting caught stealing possessions can cause residents to violently retaliate. Now that I’ve successfully assimilated myself into the local populace, crossing a bridge to reach the next region became my next goal. I reached the gentleman guarding the bridge gate; however, it turned out a local gang swiped his precious war medals and he wouldn’t let me pass until I recovered them. Furthermore, I also needed to find a necessary power cell. To recover the medals, I had to locate and infiltrate the gang’s stronghold. Despite sneaking through a back opening undetected (one of multiple routes), the gang were prepared for intruders all along and captured me when I rode their elevator. The reason behind their setup: to lure potential competitors to battle to the death in their popular fighting arena. After stripping me of my belongings, the thugs led me into their battlefield. I met my opponent: a former associate of Arthur’s who blamed him for not publishing one of his articles in the newspaper. Arthur explained that the man’s piece blatantly plagiarized Arthur’s own work, but the man still swore revenge in a humorous exchange. I had the option of choosing to use non-lethal or deadly force. I went with the non-fatal pipe wrapped in padding. My adversary swiftly opted for a deadlier weapon, much to Arthur’s chagrin. Despite having this choice, We Happy Few doesn’t feature a morality mechanic. When I asked Compulsion’s Narrative Director Alex Epstein about this, he told me he’d rather players feel the consequences themselves rather than gamify it. Judging by this response, I wouldn't expect any horns to sprout on Arthur's head if you opt for a bloodier approach. Combat resembled the style of BioShock or Dishonored. The right shoulder button initiated attacks while the left shoulder button blocked. Players can also perform a guard-breaking shove. Picking up downed bodies and hurling them at opponents became my favorite offensive move for its silliness. After incapacitating the writer, more enemies entered the fray. I found it easy to drop foes by backing them into a corner and wailing on them, though I had to remain mindful of Arthur’s stamina meter. After finally beating my challengers, the gang allowed me to walk free, but I had no intention of leaving without accomplishing my mission. I snuck my way into the underbelly of the hideout. Navigating unseen, I creeped up behind unsuspecting foes and choked them out. To distract others, I lobbed glass bottles. These mechanics won’t surprise stealth fans, but players can access more abilities by unlocking them in the skill tree. I eventually found the gatekeeper’s medals, along with a power cell and my stolen inventory, and chose to escape without making a ruckus. After returning the medals to the grateful veteran, I passed through the gate and took a train to the next area. Unfortunately, I had to end things there before I could see what lay ahead. Had I not had to hoof it to another appointment, I’d have gladly kept playing. We Happy Few’s strange world begs to be explored, and I got hooked on gathering as many resources to make Arthur as capable as possible. With a world this large, We Happy Few will live or die based on the number of interesting things to do. Ultimately, I’m relieved to have substantial single-player component to sink my teeth into as the idea of the multiplayer doesn’t excite me in the same way. The wait for We Happy Few won’t last much longer, thankfully. It launches August 10 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  3. He's all outta gum and could be the live-action face of Duke Nukem. The one and only John Cena could become the man who kills aliens and doesn't afraid of anything while spouting one-liners and smoking a chunky cigar. According to The Hollywood Reporter, John Cena has entered into negotiations with Paramount to play the lead role in an upcoming film adaptation of the classic gaming franchise. More details beyond Cena's possible involvement are scarce. Platinum Dunes, Michael Bay's company, is set to produce the movie, but no director has been attached quite yet. The company previously worked on the Purge films and the modern incarnation of the Ninja Turtles. On top of that, no writer has been attached to the project, which means that the script for the adaptation of the 27-year-old franchise is still up in the air. All of that means that Cena's casting would be entirely based on the actor's chiseled chin and past association with Paramount. He appeared in Daddy's Home 2 and is slated to play a prominent role in the upcoming live-action Transformer's spin-off film titled Bumblebee. Is this good casting or would John Cena be a poor choice? Let us know what you think! View full article
  4. He's all outta gum and could be the live-action face of Duke Nukem. The one and only John Cena could become the man who kills aliens and doesn't afraid of anything while spouting one-liners and smoking a chunky cigar. According to The Hollywood Reporter, John Cena has entered into negotiations with Paramount to play the lead role in an upcoming film adaptation of the classic gaming franchise. More details beyond Cena's possible involvement are scarce. Platinum Dunes, Michael Bay's company, is set to produce the movie, but no director has been attached quite yet. The company previously worked on the Purge films and the modern incarnation of the Ninja Turtles. On top of that, no writer has been attached to the project, which means that the script for the adaptation of the 27-year-old franchise is still up in the air. All of that means that Cena's casting would be entirely based on the actor's chiseled chin and past association with Paramount. He appeared in Daddy's Home 2 and is slated to play a prominent role in the upcoming live-action Transformer's spin-off film titled Bumblebee. Is this good casting or would John Cena be a poor choice? Let us know what you think!
  5. The Tales from the Borderlands series stands as the most entertaining collection of episodes released by Telltale Games to date. I can’t remember the last time I smiled and laughed during a game as much as The Vault of the Traveler. Through the obscure alchemy known as “fantastic writing,” Tales from the Borderlands elevates itself from simply being funny (a difficult feat by itself) to a place where it conveys genuine pathos. By Episode Five, we’ve grown attached to the characters and we’ve become invested in the stakes. Important figures in both Tales from the Borderlands and the broader Borderlands universe have died in previous episodes, but The Vault of the Traveler ups the body count considerably. While the finale powerfully hits other emotional notes like sadness or anger, it remains fundamentally lighthearted. Some of what lies ahead could be considered spoilers. If you haven’t played any of Tales from the Borderlands yet, do yourself a favor and download the first episode for free. It comes with our recommendation. Tales from the Borderlands Episode Five was reviewed on PC. Telltale Games has been given an almost shocking freedom to change the game world of Borderlands. Previous episodes in the series have made smaller changes, but Episode Five goes all out and completely changes the fabric of the in-game universe. By the time the credits roll, staples of the Borderlands franchise have been left shattered and broken, leaving an exciting and intriguing future in store for upcoming entries in either the Gearbox or Telltale series. We’ve grown so used to game worlds and characters that remain relatively static that something as simple as following a story through and leaving the world different seems novel and progressive. While there have been no announcements regarding future Tales from the Borderlands seasons, the cliffhanger ending of Episode Five practically begs for a follow-up. As the series has progressed it has become clear that Telltale made a conscious decision to incorporate the jokes directly into the story. What might have seemed to be a funny, one-off moment in the first episode becomes a hilarious gag an episode or two later and somehow grows into a huge set piece during the finale. This does two things that are vitally important and really difficult to pull off. First, it cultivates humor and attachment. Sure, it might have been funny the first time Rhys and Vaughn fist bump and call each other “bro,” but seeing that friendship develop and those fist bumps become more and more ridiculously elaborate eventually makes the gesture really meaningful during the more serious moments. We understand that it means something more to the characters in whom we’ve become invested, so we empathize and feel closer to them by proxy when things become solemn. Second, the jokes become ground the serious moments of the story in a happy-go-lucky territory. Sure, the finger-gun segments at Hyperion were smile-inducing in the first episode. Sure, they were hilarious during the infiltration segment. But that particular joke coming back as a large-scale plot device during a tense life-or-death battle? Brilliant. That kind of set-up and pay-off is one of the hallmarks of great writing. Lesser writers often don’t look that far ahead in their stories. The hero just happens to be fluent in Mandarin for reasons that are explained in a bit of throwaway dialogue. The escaped heroine stumbles randomly into the room where the pivotal McGuffin has been hidden. Less talented writing occur when things just happen; where cause and effect don’t seem to exist. Tales from the Borderlands sets everything up from the beginning and propels itself forward with the almighty writers’ rule of “and then.” Beginning with Rhys and Fiona making active decisions to engage in a risky endeavor, every story beat from then on is a series of “and then” moments deriving from those fateful decisions. This leads to an unprecedented, breathless pacing that manages to move assuredly even in the insane world of Pandora. Because of that logical structure, players are able to easily understand the stakes and the various motivations of everyone involved with a minimal amount of effort. The entire finale is one big highlight of the best that Tales from the Borderlands can offer. Rhys finally confronts Handsome Jack. We at last learn the identity of the masked man who kidnapped Fiona and Rhys back in the first episode. The Gortys Project reaches its full potential. Players get a chance to assemble a team of vault hunters to take down the vault guardian. Fiona and Sasha fly into an alien portal and encounter vault dwellers. There are few moments that feel anything less than awesome. One of the few studios that puts a heavy emphasis on writing, Telltale Games will have put out six entire games in the past two years when the final episode of their Game of Thrones series lands next month (seven if you include Minecraft: Story Mode, though that won’t conclude until next year). That kind of output seems insane for such a small studio. Since the release of their first season of The Walking Dead, all of those games have ranged in quality from good to superb. I’d argue that the reason both seasons of The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us, Game of Thrones, and Tales from the Borderlands have been so successful has been because of the commitment Telltale shows to high caliber writing. People don’t play Telltale games because they have fun quick time events or heart racing gameplay mechanics; they do it to experience a well-told story and make meaningful choices. Storytelling carries the entire company. If a smaller studio like Telltale Games can be so successful by emphasizing story above AAA graphics and revamped gameplay mechanics, why can’t other studios learn from their example? Or rather, why are we content with lesser, lazier writing when we know how much better it could be? We should expect from all our games because of what Telltale routinely shows us is possible on a shoestring budget. On that small budget, Telltale delivers swashbuckling space heists, world-shattering disasters, giant robot fights, and gorgeous scenes that play just as well on a mobile phone as on a tricked out PC. Constrained art direction combined with some fantastic composing and licensed music selection by Jared Emerson-Johnson really elevate the presentation above what many have come to expect from Telltale Games, which is no small feat. There are very few criticisms to level against the conclusion of the Tales from the Borderlands series. The largest problem I encountered was the lip syncing running off track once or twice for a few jarring seconds. I also noticed some graphical stuttering, but given the sheer number of effects and moving objects on screen it’s likely that the fault lies with the aging Telltale engine which allows for so much multiplatform flexibility. The only other thing that really stood out to me as being moderately irritating were a few instances of obvious set ups for dramatic turns. Episode Five contains some incredible surprises, but a few of its most meaningful moments are a bit too obviously telegraphed. All told, however, these insignificant nitpicks didn’t really detract from my enjoyment. Conclusion: Tales from the Borderlands begins as one of the best game series Telltale Games has made to date and ends as a serious contender for Game of the Year. Vault of the Traveler is the perfect conclusion for the series. It will tickle your funny bone, pull your heartstrings, and punch you in the gut while keeping plenty of surprises and fake-outs in store to keep things incredibly interesting. I wouldn’t be upset Episode Five was the last we saw of Tales from the Borderlands, but I hope we see more and that we don’t have to wait years for a season two to become a reality. If you value games as vehicles for compelling stories, you owe it to yourself to play Tales from the Borderlands. Tales from the Borderlands Episode Five is available now for PC, Mac, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, iOS, and Android. --- Don’t forget to sign up for Extra Life’s Thunderclap to donate a tweet or Facebook post on October 24 to help raise awareness of Extra Life! It’s super easy and will only take you a minute to set up.
  6. The Tales from the Borderlands series stands as the most entertaining collection of episodes released by Telltale Games to date. I can’t remember the last time I smiled and laughed during a game as much as The Vault of the Traveler. Through the obscure alchemy known as “fantastic writing,” Tales from the Borderlands elevates itself from simply being funny (a difficult feat by itself) to a place where it conveys genuine pathos. By Episode Five, we’ve grown attached to the characters and we’ve become invested in the stakes. Important figures in both Tales from the Borderlands and the broader Borderlands universe have died in previous episodes, but The Vault of the Traveler ups the body count considerably. While the finale powerfully hits other emotional notes like sadness or anger, it remains fundamentally lighthearted. Some of what lies ahead could be considered spoilers. If you haven’t played any of Tales from the Borderlands yet, do yourself a favor and download the first episode for free. It comes with our recommendation. Tales from the Borderlands Episode Five was reviewed on PC. Telltale Games has been given an almost shocking freedom to change the game world of Borderlands. Previous episodes in the series have made smaller changes, but Episode Five goes all out and completely changes the fabric of the in-game universe. By the time the credits roll, staples of the Borderlands franchise have been left shattered and broken, leaving an exciting and intriguing future in store for upcoming entries in either the Gearbox or Telltale series. We’ve grown so used to game worlds and characters that remain relatively static that something as simple as following a story through and leaving the world different seems novel and progressive. While there have been no announcements regarding future Tales from the Borderlands seasons, the cliffhanger ending of Episode Five practically begs for a follow-up. As the series has progressed it has become clear that Telltale made a conscious decision to incorporate the jokes directly into the story. What might have seemed to be a funny, one-off moment in the first episode becomes a hilarious gag an episode or two later and somehow grows into a huge set piece during the finale. This does two things that are vitally important and really difficult to pull off. First, it cultivates humor and attachment. Sure, it might have been funny the first time Rhys and Vaughn fist bump and call each other “bro,” but seeing that friendship develop and those fist bumps become more and more ridiculously elaborate eventually makes the gesture really meaningful during the more serious moments. We understand that it means something more to the characters in whom we’ve become invested, so we empathize and feel closer to them by proxy when things become solemn. Second, the jokes become ground the serious moments of the story in a happy-go-lucky territory. Sure, the finger-gun segments at Hyperion were smile-inducing in the first episode. Sure, they were hilarious during the infiltration segment. But that particular joke coming back as a large-scale plot device during a tense life-or-death battle? Brilliant. That kind of set-up and pay-off is one of the hallmarks of great writing. Lesser writers often don’t look that far ahead in their stories. The hero just happens to be fluent in Mandarin for reasons that are explained in a bit of throwaway dialogue. The escaped heroine stumbles randomly into the room where the pivotal McGuffin has been hidden. Less talented writing occur when things just happen; where cause and effect don’t seem to exist. Tales from the Borderlands sets everything up from the beginning and propels itself forward with the almighty writers’ rule of “and then.” Beginning with Rhys and Fiona making active decisions to engage in a risky endeavor, every story beat from then on is a series of “and then” moments deriving from those fateful decisions. This leads to an unprecedented, breathless pacing that manages to move assuredly even in the insane world of Pandora. Because of that logical structure, players are able to easily understand the stakes and the various motivations of everyone involved with a minimal amount of effort. The entire finale is one big highlight of the best that Tales from the Borderlands can offer. Rhys finally confronts Handsome Jack. We at last learn the identity of the masked man who kidnapped Fiona and Rhys back in the first episode. The Gortys Project reaches its full potential. Players get a chance to assemble a team of vault hunters to take down the vault guardian. Fiona and Sasha fly into an alien portal and encounter vault dwellers. There are few moments that feel anything less than awesome. One of the few studios that puts a heavy emphasis on writing, Telltale Games will have put out six entire games in the past two years when the final episode of their Game of Thrones series lands next month (seven if you include Minecraft: Story Mode, though that won’t conclude until next year). That kind of output seems insane for such a small studio. Since the release of their first season of The Walking Dead, all of those games have ranged in quality from good to superb. I’d argue that the reason both seasons of The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us, Game of Thrones, and Tales from the Borderlands have been so successful has been because of the commitment Telltale shows to high caliber writing. People don’t play Telltale games because they have fun quick time events or heart racing gameplay mechanics; they do it to experience a well-told story and make meaningful choices. Storytelling carries the entire company. If a smaller studio like Telltale Games can be so successful by emphasizing story above AAA graphics and revamped gameplay mechanics, why can’t other studios learn from their example? Or rather, why are we content with lesser, lazier writing when we know how much better it could be? We should expect from all our games because of what Telltale routinely shows us is possible on a shoestring budget. On that small budget, Telltale delivers swashbuckling space heists, world-shattering disasters, giant robot fights, and gorgeous scenes that play just as well on a mobile phone as on a tricked out PC. Constrained art direction combined with some fantastic composing and licensed music selection by Jared Emerson-Johnson really elevate the presentation above what many have come to expect from Telltale Games, which is no small feat. There are very few criticisms to level against the conclusion of the Tales from the Borderlands series. The largest problem I encountered was the lip syncing running off track once or twice for a few jarring seconds. I also noticed some graphical stuttering, but given the sheer number of effects and moving objects on screen it’s likely that the fault lies with the aging Telltale engine which allows for so much multiplatform flexibility. The only other thing that really stood out to me as being moderately irritating were a few instances of obvious set ups for dramatic turns. Episode Five contains some incredible surprises, but a few of its most meaningful moments are a bit too obviously telegraphed. All told, however, these insignificant nitpicks didn’t really detract from my enjoyment. Conclusion: Tales from the Borderlands begins as one of the best game series Telltale Games has made to date and ends as a serious contender for Game of the Year. Vault of the Traveler is the perfect conclusion for the series. It will tickle your funny bone, pull your heartstrings, and punch you in the gut while keeping plenty of surprises and fake-outs in store to keep things incredibly interesting. I wouldn’t be upset Episode Five was the last we saw of Tales from the Borderlands, but I hope we see more and that we don’t have to wait years for a season two to become a reality. If you value games as vehicles for compelling stories, you owe it to yourself to play Tales from the Borderlands. Tales from the Borderlands Episode Five is available now for PC, Mac, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, iOS, and Android. --- Don’t forget to sign up for Extra Life’s Thunderclap to donate a tweet or Facebook post on October 24 to help raise awareness of Extra Life! It’s super easy and will only take you a minute to set up. View full article
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