Tales From The Borderlands first episode – Zer0 Sum – debuted to critical acclaim and was a marvelous execution on Telltale’s promise to conserve the humor, action and wicked style of Gearbox’s first-person-looter series through its transition to a new cinematic and bite-sized form.
That said, the series’ three-month hiatus had a lot of fans worried. Telltale’s last series, The Wolf Among Us, never managed to really recover the narrative momentum it lost during its own three-month gap and it’s all too easy to imagine history repeating itself. Fortunately, this isn’t the case. Atlas Mugged is a very different episodic tale to its predecessor – but it’s one that’s no less funny, thrilling or enjoyable to play through.
Minor Spoilers Below
Atlas Mugged picks up right where Zer0 Sum left off and – after dealing with a few of the series’ more-immediate plot threads – it launches itself right back into the thick of things. While the hunt for (yet-another) vault on Pandora is the episode’s main concern, there are a number of other interesting subplots that get a lot of (well-deserved) attention. There are some great moments for the whole cast with scenes exploring the friendship between Vaughn and Rhys (as described by Fiona) proving a hilarious highlight. This episode doesn’t have quite as many laugh-out-loud lines or moments as the first one did, but it’s nice to see very little in terms of recycled jokes or humor.
The much-teased presence of a digitized-Handsome Jack in the episode is also refreshingly constrained in terms of screentime. It’s great to see Timothy Lawrence reprise his role and he manages to find a sweet spot when it comes to making himself memorable without dominating the plot.
Like Zer0 Sum, Atlas Mugged is oozing with the style and flavor that sets Borderlands apart. The opening credits in particular this time around around are particularly impressive and number of familiar faces from both Tales and the main series make an appearance. As is becoming typical for Telltale by now, action scenes are also handled quite well – and the story does a great job of leveraging its two unreliable narrators to get away with all sorts of fun set piece sequences.
The only real niggle I had with the episode was that it didn’t feel quite as self-contained as its predecessor did. Part of me would have really liked to have seen Telltale tackle a different ‘con-gone-wrong’ with each episode – but not so much as to deter me from enjoying Atlas Mugged as much as I did.