Tales from the Borderlands Episode 2: ‘Atlas Mugged’ Review – PC/Steam
Characters are placed in some enjoyable situations
Telltale formula continues to mix with the Borderlands world surprisingly well
Good to see Handsome Jack again, even if he does come off a little bland compared to Borderlands 2
Narrative doesn’t really seem to go anywhere
An anonymous and largely forgettable chapter, which is worrying this early on
It’s difficult to gauge the audience for a review of the second episode in a Telltale Games series. By now, most people interested in the series will have played the first episode, and will have decided for themselves whether or not they are going to invest themselves in the remainder of the episodes. For that purpose, this review is pretty much irrelevant. However, for those who decided to hang back a bit, and decide if the series is worthwhile once they can see where it is going a bit better, then hopefully this review will shine a bit more light on their decision.
Tales from the Borderlands Episode 2, subtitled ‘Atlas Mugged’, begins with a brief recap of what transpired through the first episode, narrated once again by Marcus Kincaid, Pandora’s famous weapons dealer. The recap even makes a slight allusion to the wait between Episode One and Two, a gap of about four months. ‘Atlas Mugged’ itself picks up instantaneously after the end of the first episode, with Rhys and Fiona, our dual protagonists, left in an Atlas facility along with Vaughn, Sasha and a holographic Handsome Jack, who, it quickly becomes apparent, is only visible to Rhys.
Once again, Tales From The Borderlands presents a dialogue-heavy experience, with a slightly shorter running time than the first episode. Clocking in at about an hour and a half, compared to the first episode’s two-plus hours, it certainly felt like less happened, and that episode two serves more as a narrative carry-on than any real establishment of where the story is going and why. There are a couple of new characters introduced, and some amusing interactions between characters already established, but I didn’t come away at the end of the episode feeling like the story has been pushed forwards all that far.
Don’t get me wrong, though, I still enjoyed my time with ‘Atlas Mugged’. Some of the dialogue choices are particularly entertaining, as is the continually unreliable narration from both Rhys and Fiona. The Borderlands-series staples of grisly violence and dark humour is well-adhered to also, with an early eye-gouging sequence reminiscent of the fight with Poseidon in God of War III proving similarly wince-worthy. There are some interesting gameplay additions to the mechanics as well, including an upgrade to Rhys’ Echo-Eye, and a particularly binary choice as to which destination the player would like to travel to in terms of continuing the story, which is a rare departure for Telltale’s usually linear geographic structure.
The problem with second episodes addressed in the introduction isn’t really solved by ‘Atlas Mugged’, but instead perhaps deferred for a time. Sure, an entire Telltale series can’t be judged on two episodes alone, but I didn’t come out of ‘Atlas Mugged’ more or less convinced that Tales From The Borderlands is worthy of a recommendation. I certainly have had fun with both episodes so far, in terms of gameplay, characters and setting, but I don’t feel as though the series has got its hooks into me yet in the same way as The Walking Dead of The Wolf Among Us did. ‘Atlas Mugged’ feels a little too much like the series treading water, almost like one of those episodes in a TV series that comes around the 15th or 16th episode in a series, where nothing really happens, but you still can’t miss it just in case something crucial happens that will come up again later. I can’t recommend Tales From The Borderlands solely on ‘Atlas Mugged’ alone, but I similarly can’t write it off either.