Tales From the Borderlands Ep. 4: Escape Plan Bravo Review
Tales From the Borderlands Ep. 4: Escape Plan Bravo Review
Continues the series' trademark humor and characterization, but falls flat when it comes to agency and story development
Posted: 01/24/16 | Category: Review | Developer: Telltale Games | Publisher: Telltale Games | Platform: Xbox one, Xbox 360, Playstation 4, Playstation 3, Windows, Mac, Ios

Genre: Point-and-Click Adventure
Release date: August 18, 2015

All throughout its run so far, Telltale Games’ Tales from the Borderlands has managed to delight and entertain with a witty plot, hilarious characters and choices that seem to matter in the overall Borderlands lore. Episode 4: Escape Plan Bravo, while good, doesn’t live up to the high bar set by the earlier episodes.

A Running Start
 

Picking up where Episode 3 left off, Escape Plan Bravo tasks Rhys and Fiona with infiltrating Hyperion in order to get the last Gortys piece needed to open the Vault of the Traveler. Under the watchful eye of Vallory, the crew puts together a ramshackle rocket ship (with some help from Scooter and Janey) and sets off towards Hyperion’s headquarters.

The episode starts off strong, with a weird, gross Rhys moment that feels right at home on Pandora. Fiona and Sasha trade witty banter with Scooter, and the team sets off in what is quite possibly the best title sequence in the entire series. Following that, there's one scene in particular that carries an emotional weight and impact that will go on to affect the entire Borderlands universe, and it hits especially strong for fans of the series. However, after that moment, the episode stalls and begins to lose steam.

A Series Stumble
 

Rhys and Fiona’s infiltration of Hyperion feels rushed in comparison to the rest of the series. In fact, the whole latter half of Escape Plan Bravo feels like it was pushed out the door before it was ready, with credits rolling after only 2 hours. While duration should rarely be a deciding factor in a review, it stands out as something worth mentioning.

The events on Hyperion station also feel less grounded than the events in the earlier episodes. From Rhys’ “shootout” to Fiona’s tour, the stakes just don’t feel as high in comparison to the duo’s previous excursions. Rhys and Fiona have escaped death numerous times at this point, but Hyperion never comes across as dangerous. It is an unfortunate byproduct of the rushed nature of the episode, and it makes me wish Telltale Games had fleshed out the Hyperion sections more. By the time the credits roll, it feels as though none of the lingering questions the series has been building up to have been answered. Escape Plan Bravo feels less like a full episode and more like a setup towards the finale.

Additionally, the choices made in this episode don’t feel as though they have much weight to them. In fact, the whole Hyperion section feels much more linear than the rest of the series, with decisions that lack impact or consequence. There are less choices to make, and they feel less important in the grand scheme of the story.

Bright Moments
 

That doesn’t mean Escape Plan Bravo is bad. It still carries a lot of the trademark humor the series has become known for, and Rhys and Fiona continue to be charming and likeable protagonists even as they fumble their way across Pandora. The action scenes are also very well done, with Rhys’ shootout in Hyperion standing out as one of the better action sequences in the whole series. While if felt unnecessary, it was well done and got a laugh out of me.

Gortys and Loader Bot remain the best characters in the series, and their goofy conversations continue to elevate whichever scene they find themselves in. However, Loader Bot becomes less important as the episode goes on, and it’s Gortys who shines as the real star of Escape Plan Bravo.  Her naïve interactions with Hyperion staff are simply hilarious.

The end of Episode 4 is one of the better cliffhangers in the series. It sets up the finale well, and has me excited to see what happens in the end. I just wish the lead up to the cliffhanger had been a bit better.

Conclusion
 

Following on the heels of the exceptional first half of the series, Escape Plan Bravo feels like it wasn’t given enough time to be fully fleshed out. It continues the series' trademark humor and characterization, but falls flat when it comes to agency and story development. In a series where choices are supposed to matter, I finished the episode feeling like nothing I'd done really mattered. While the episode isn’t bad by any means, it feels rushed. And in a series that's had nothing but great episodes up to this point, a mediocre episode stands out that much more.

 

Grade: B-
Gortys
Solid Opening and Great Cliffhanger Ending
 
Feels Rushed
Inconsequential Choices
Short (~2 hours)
 
 Logo
 
 
Trailer:
 
 
 
System Requirements
 
MINIMUM PC:
Microsoft® Windows® XP Service Pack 3
Processor: Core 2 Duo 2 GHz or equivalent
Memory: 3 GB RAM
Graphics: ATI or NVIDIA card w/512 MB RAM
Hard Drive: 3 GB available space
Sound Card: DirectX 9.0c sound device
Additional Notes: Not recommended for Intel integrated graphics
 
MINIMUM Mac:
OS: Snow Leopard 10.6.X 
Processor: 2.3 GHz Intel
Memory: 4 GB RAM
Graphics: 512 NVIDIA or ATI graphics card
Hard Drive: 3 GB available space
Additional Notes: Not recommended for Intel integrated graphics or Mac Minis or early-generation MacBook
 
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