The good news is that Tales from the Borderlands is an excellent series; the bad news if that The Vault of the Traveler is a bit of a letdown. It’s not a bad episode per se, but the selection made in previous entries can make this a bit of an [em]eh[/em] last chapter. Make the… not right selections, I guess, but ones that make Rhys a bit more sympathetic, and the game walks down a more humorous path than if you didn’t. If you made more selfish choices, this episode feels a bit empty.
The upside, if nothing else, are two paths that in all relativity differ pretty drastically.
Either way, The Vault of the Traveler makes Tales from the Borderlands feel more disjointed than it needed to be. How Rhys and Fiona ended up at the Stranger is glossed over with a quick “this is what we did during the months after the story we just told” speech, and I wonder if Telltale didn’t have the time to put those details into the game. At least the Stranger’s identity, and this might say more about me than anything, surprised me.
Again, if you had Rhys make more sympathetic choices, the episode ends up having its fair share of fun moments, and the humor lives up to previous episodes. Particularly an introduction of one character—he only shows up depending on a selection made in this episode—should make fans of the franchise chuckle.
Yet again, when things look good, you get treated to one of the incredibly predictable and shallow death scenes Telltale likes to put into their last episodes, albeit one with a good twist to it.
This all sounds negative, I know, but in the end Tales from the Borderlands is well up in the upper echelon of Telltale’s games. It’s funny throughout, and in many ways it reminds me of Monkey Island. Rhys could easily be considered Telltale’s Guybrush; Fiona its Elaine.
There will, of course, be a sequel, and I welcome that. Games like Tales from the Borderlands and The Wolf Among Us are the odd little franchises Telltale is good at working with. I do wish they could make better last episodes: Tales of Monkey Island and The Wolf Among Us are the only ones I can think of during newer-ish history.
That doesn’t take away from Tales from the Borderlands being one hell of a ride, though.