"The Vault of the Traveler": Tales from the Borderlands Episode 5 Review
"The Vault of the Traveler", episode five of Tales from the Borderlands, had some ups and downs. But this conclusion to the series was not as epic as it could have been, or should have been, and made me feel as if the series had not been done proper justice.
Story: Way too predictable
I had the same problem with this episode as I did the previous episodes: most of the storyline we get to play is told through flashbacks. This winds up taking away a lot of the suspense for the episode. I know there are some characters that won’t die. I know that certain things have to happen to get to the future I’ve already seen. Thus, a lot of the high-intensity situations weren’t very intense at all. This made the beginning of the episode feel very underwhelming/
Oftentimes, I found myself wishing the game would just get on with it, because what was about to happen was so obvious that I just didn’t want to deal with Telltale and Gearbox dragging it out any more. Moments like the reveal of Fiona and Rhys’s capturer, the psycho, and the mysterious gift from Felix all felt flat and longer than they needed to be.
Forcing the story along
Some parts of the episode felt very forced, particularly in regard to to all the deaths that occurred throughout the episode. Pandora and Hyperion are messed up planets, so people are bound to die. But it all happened at once in this final chapter. Honestly, it felt as if characters were being killed off just so there wouldn’t have to be any sort of conclusion or ending to them; you don’t have to finalize the story for a character if they’re dead.
I can’t forget the “digi-adapting” aspect of this episode either (you’ll know it when you get to it). As cool as the concept is, it makes the entirety of the last fight a little extreme and over-the-the top. I couldn’t help but just put down my controller and sigh, because I knew that it was cheap way to make all the characters useful for the final fight.
Another big issue is the “romance” between Rhys and Sasha.
I still don’t understand it; it stills feels forced to me, and it got worse in this episode. There are quite a few moments where everything stops to add this romance into the mix. This was even more frustrating right at the end. Fiona seriously dropped everything and held up the entire story, to wonder about their romance. It was really frustrating for me. I’m not sure why it was necessary for Telltale and Gearbox to throw that wrench in there right at the end; it didn’t hold any significance to what happened afterwards.
Pushing endless sadness doesn't work in a game centered around comedy
There was a lot of sadness in this episode due to all the tragedies. Once I got past the fact that these were annoying because of the predictable and forced nature of them, I realized they were supposed to be sad.
All the sadness was packed into this one episode, pushing out most of the comedy and quips the series is known for.
However, it was too much sadness all at once. The game was meant to be funny, and while there are still funny quips here and there throughout the episode, there wasn’t much compared to the rest of the episodes. That made this episode feel out of place. I understand that the sadness is necessary, but pushing it all to the end just didn't work. Where's the comic relief?
There were positives....
Like some awesome comedic quips here and there. Though the last chapter was extremely long compared to the previous five, the pacing felt good overall.
Choices I made in the previous episodes had actual impact on what choices I could make in this episode.
Your choices actually mattered quite a lot, as well. There’s still an illusion of choice. because no matter what happens, you’re still going to get the exact same ending as everyone else (there’s only one ending, so what’s the point of choices?), but at least they mattered more. Choices I made in the previous episodes had actual impact on what choices I could make in this episode. The consequences of these choices weren’t super important, but at least they were more important than the consequences I've received in previous Telltale games.
Overall, the graphics were very good. The characters looked nice and the game flowed smoothly. Some of the new character designs were absolutely amazing too (The Guardians looked absolutely beautiful).
There was one moment, however, where there was a graphical problem. When Rhys pulls out his cybernetic eye (his left eye), the string connecting it to the socket suddenly switches from his left to his right. It was very strange to say the least.
Tales from the Borderlands never fails to disappoint me in terms of audio. The soundtrack is flawless, with the best songs playing at the best of times.
Although Zero’s voice sounded weirdly high-pitched this time around, the rest of the characters were flawlessly voice-acted, with good portrayal of the character’s emotions and thoughts.
As is standard in Telltale's style, the episode consisted of quick-time events, branching dialogue options, and click-and-point exploration. There is also an option to use the money in this chapter as well.
However, this episode was particularly awesome in terms of gameplay. At the end, there was a huge fight that was reminiscent of a fighter style game. This made the QTEs more difficult and more engaging. It wasn’t quite the simplistic style gameplay that has been used previously. It took at least a little bit of skill to get through the QTEs this time around.
This chapter was not as dark as the previous one, which was a little depressing if you’re into that sort of thing like I am. However, if you’ve made it this far into Tales from the Borderlands, you should finish the series. It does conclude everything quite nicely, leaving only a few loose ends and weird plot holes here and there (mainly how Athena magically came back without a problem).
With the ending as it was, there will most likely be a season two for Tales from the Borderlands, or the events in this game will directly affect what happens in the expected Borderlands 3.
What did you think of "The Vault of the Traveler?" Do you agree with me or not? Be sure to let me know in the comments below!