Review: Tales from the Borderlands: Episode 2 – Atlas Mugged (2015)
Crotch jokes, a chase through a hidden underground town, familiar faces and an amazing opening makes for a dream come true for Borderlands fans.
Atlas Mugged comes in at one and a half to two hours which while short it crams in a lot of story, jokes and gameplay. Much like episode one Rhys and Fiona continue to tell their story as Rhys is confronted with a hologram of Handsome Jack that only he can see. Jack is still the smart mouth from Borderlands 2 and is funny from start to finish talking to Rhys and the player. But while Jack is great as a character he just becomes another person you’re not sure if you can trust. This episode gave one clear fact through out – that you don’t really know who you can trust and why should you really trust them at all?
Atlas Mugged continues in the same fashion as episode one with Fiona and Rhys feeling like they are trying to one up each other and put the other down while retelling the story. Whether it’s falling from a ledge and looking like an idiot or jumping from a roof onto a moving motorbike they constantly both want to look cooler then the other which is very effective when we are constantly jumping between both of them. So the way we see the story is because that’s how the character remembers it or wants to portray it. Very strong voice acting backs this up from Troy Baker, Dameon Clarke, Laura Bailey and many others. They give stand out performances that bring life to a very funny script and bring the comedy we have come to expect from the Borderlands series.
Much like the first episode and other Telltale games there is a strong focus on dialogue trees and sometimes having to make quick decisions. While that is still the case here, this time around there is some time for humour as jokes that in normal games would be over in seconds are long extended. A character’s appearance when shirtless is delivered in a very dry way that is very funny. It doesn’t move the narrative along in anyway but is just enough of a break from the action for you to catch a breather and remember just how funny the writing is. This is also done again with a crotch joke that is very much in the style of Borderlands and any fan of the series will appreciate it, then with the added dialogue options of how to approach it just makes for one of the best jokes of the episode.
The music and overall pacing of the episode is handled to expert fashion which Telltale have managed to do very well. This along with the music makes for a very well produced episode that is one of the finest the studio have created. The music however is where this episode really shines as the opening and the ending credits show vast improvement on the editing side from previous titles from the studio. It also helps to make the opening credit sequence really shine out as everything plays out in slow motion and pulls you back in like you never left even after such a long period of time between the episodes.
The story doesn’t have any major reveals this episode or anything too tense that will have you sweating but for what it lacks in reveals it makes up for in humour. Episode 2 starts with you pulling a mans eye out with a spoon to use on a scanner, with jokes being made about what your doing and how disgusting you are while your doing it. Story focuses more on are protagonists again which now feels like three protagonists rather then two. With Jack brought into the mix and always constantly being over your shoulder throughout he feels like the little voice in your head telling you what choice to make. It just brings back the feeling of who can you really trust and I found myself making a lot of choices just on blind faith because I knew that either choice was going to effect me badly. The one thing I’m safe in knowing is that no matter what, my choice is still going to be entertaining and a real treat to watch.
The gameplay surprised me about how much movement I had while playing a shorter episode of a Telltale game. It felt less like a short film and more like I had some consequence to the world and had something to do and had a purpose for being these. With more consequence on money management in this episode it gave me a reason to handle my money, and that next time I am given the choice to steal money from someone maybe I should just do it. With returning characters from previous titles in the series popping up it makes for some fun gameplay and just makes me want more of it.
When I finished playing Episode One of Tales from the Borderlands I left feeling so happy about my choices, and just how much potential there was there for something great. Leaving Atlas Mugged I realised that I wasn’t wrong. While my choices are now being made more on blind faith rather then clear choice, its great to know that my choices are still going to be a treat to watch play out. Tales from the Borderland wants to entertain you and make you laugh rather then make you sweat under pressure trying to make the right choice. With huge laughs and great gameplay Atlas Mugged shows some of the best work coming from Telltale in a long time.