‘Tales From The Borderlands’ Episode 5: ‘The Vault of the Traveler’ Review

Platforms PlayStation 4/Xbox One/PC/Xbox 360/Playstation 3

Developer TellTale Games Publisher TellTale Games

Genre Point and Click Adventure Platform Played Xbox One

Picking up with our protagonists both in very difficult situations (both in present time with the masked captor and the past on Helios), The Vault of the Traveler begins with intense action and refuses to let up until the episode reaches its finale.

After freeing themselves from the initial threats on Helios, Handsome Jack remains at large throughout the computer network, granting him access to everything from turrets and holograms to security cameras and hatch controls. Attempting to locate safe passage from the moon base, the band of heroes must adopt new strategies at every turn while Jack attempts to thwart every plan. Several near-death scenarios are encountered and a heart-wrenching scene is placed before players as Rhys makes his way to safety. Given the majority of interaction and dialogue between Rhys or Fiona and any NPC is a series of choices made by the player, the relationships established with key characters is unbelievably strong, and TellTale Games is well aware of this fact. Heartstrings are tugged in an expert fashion, ensuring the player is completely helpless to do anything as negative consequences befall the characters they have grown to love. This is not the only instance of players being forced to watch in horror as the narrative takes unavoidable, undesirable twists and yet it only causes a desire for more.

Over the course of the episode, players are taken on a longer journey than any of the previous installments, while being asked to input more commands and choices than ever before. This makes a monumental difference, as the plot is able to take its time reaching the conclusion but ensuring the player never feels they are watching a movie rather than playing a game. It also makes the payoff feel far more significant when the relationships that have been nurtured or destroyed over the course of five episodes reach their conclusion.

With this being the final episode in the season, The Vault of the Traveler brings back almost every familiar face which is not deceased and incorporates them back into the story to varying degrees. It may sound awkward or cliche, but it is done masterfully, and in some cases, completely unexpected. Even characters who have not been spotted for an episode or two may be involved in the final sequence, all depending on choices you made while dealing with them. The impact each character has in this segment may be minimal, but they all have their own unique input and the simple limitation of options based on decisions made much earlier in the season helps alleviate some of the feeling that choices made in-game do not amount to much. The decisions which impact this final choice are not necessarily significant ones either, as many rely entirely on which dialogue option the player chose while being interrogated or whether all of your money was spent on frivolous items. Actively preventing one character from murdering another may be a relatively obvious choice to result in a different outcome later on in a story, but blaming someone for a fraud scheme at the outset of an episodic series is not something one generally expects to influence a scenario at the end.

Over the course of the final episode, any questions about certain characters or events are answered, loose ends are tied up, and beloved characters become even more cherished. Fiona and Rhys evolve into much deeper characters by the end, displaying significant change from their initial introductions, and even the planet of Pandora has been shaped by the events of Tales From The Borderlands. The variety of emotions felt while playing through this episode is absolutely phenomenal, even within the same scenes. One segment in particular has a character on their deathbed after making a sacrifice and several seconds later, there is a hilarious reference to the Pokemon movie being made. It almost results in a feeling of guilt for laughing during such a sad moment, but TellTale knew what they were doing while designing the narrative, and the game never loses that constant Borderlands brand of humour.

The only issues encountered were slight latency issues while the game attempted to catch up to scenes at the end which varied wildly depending on which choices were made. There were a number of these in rapid succession which resulted in the game’s video degrading to screenshots for a few seconds before resuming while the audio continued to run without issue. Considering these problems were only encountered at the end of the episode and for extremely brief periods, the experience will not suffer greatly because of them.

Given that The Vault of the Traveler is the finale episode of Tales From The Borderlands, it is likely to be what leaves a lasting impression with gamers. Fortunately, this episode is the pinnacle of the series, offering a wide variety of choices and actions, tying up all of the loose ends from previous episodes, giving weight to choices long forgotten, and providing players with the overall sensation of fulfillment upon its completion. It is hard to think of a game or series possessing an ending as satisfying as The Vault of the Traveler‘s, which is a true testament to how well TellTale Games have crafted the story. Fans of Borderlands or TellTale Games need to play through Tales From The Borderlands if for no other reason than to experience the craftsmanship and payoff found in this finale episode.

The Good

  • Choices made throughout season affect/limit final choice
  • No loose ends left after conclusion of story
  • Trademark sense of humour found throughout whole episode
  • Emotions are expertly influenced
  • Conclusion of story is incredibly satisfying

The Bad

  • Slight latency issues on consoles near end of episode

The Score: 9.5