New Tales from the Borderlands Review: A Slapstick Successor That Feels So Right

Promethea is back, and right now, fans are preparing to explore the lawless land once more. New Tales from the Borderlands is the franchise's next release, and it promises to follow up on the narrative adventure set up by Telltale Games in 2014. As a successor, expectations for this latest entry are high, and its heroes have big shoes to fill if they want to stand with the series' vault hunters. And luckily for the team, New Tales from the Borderlands gets it right.

The story unrolls itself like any good book or movie just as you'd expect from a visual novel. Set a year after Borderlands 3, New Tales from the Borderlands heads to Promethea and welcomes its three hilariously dysfunctional leads. Anu, a high-strung scientist from Atlas, finds herself at a crossroads while her younger brother Octavio seeks fame in the seedy streets with a murder bot named L0u13. Their paths cross with a jaded frozen yogurt fanatic named Fran with anger issues, and from there on out, the formula becomes pretty familiar.

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(Photo: 2K Games)

After all, this is a Borderlands game at heart. The game's heroes go belly up with a trigger-happy corporation comes into play, and another alien vault makes itself known. Throw in a bevy of edgy jokes and gore, and bam – you've found the receipt for Borderlands' success. The IP doesn't buck that trend here, and The New Tales from the Borderlands feels safer for it.

A review for games like this one is difficult as they come down to something subjective, and that is storytelling. New Tales from the Borderlands is a narrative-centric game, and it unfolds like a visual novel as opposed to a third-person adventure game. Split into five episodes, fans are asked to write their own Borderlands novel essentially as Anu's crew tries to reach their own goals, and their missions go much as any Borderlands operation would. So if you are all about the franchise's humor, New Tales from the Borderlands is a solid buy.

Whether you're new or old to Borderlands, its new graphic adventure is compelling, and it hits all the important beats. However, the story's pace does fall apart by the end of episode four. Without going into specifics, the narrative feels incredibly tight even through a rough reality show arc in episode three, but the following part throws our heroes into a laughably unreal situation. The mismatched pacing is smoothed over by our heroes' humor, but in a game all about the story, episodes four and five feel like a misstep.

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(Photo: 2K Games)

The game also suffers from a disappointing variety of quick-time events. When you're not making story decisions, New Tales from the Borderlands has a predictable set of gameplay events to challenge fans. From hacking mini-games to a button-mashing Skylanders parody, the routine is simple if not boring. These events may not be the main focus of the game, but more variety would be nice. And when things get creative in New Tales from the Borderlands, the gameplay shines.

At about 10 hours, New Tales from the Borderlands is a solid successor to the first title under Telltale, and its story has all the right emotional beats. I cannot count the number of laughs the episodes drew from me, but towards the end, the game's uneven pacing was hard to ignore. Paired with its stale quick-time events, there is more New Tales from the Borderlands to improve on, but this sequel is a step in the right direction.

Rating: 4 out of 5

New Tales from the Borderlands releases October 21st for the PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, and PC platforms. A PC review copy on was provided by the publisher.