Tales from the Borderlands Episode Five: ‘Vault of the Traveler’ Review

“All that work to find a vault, and here we are”

With this superb final episode, Tales from the Borderlands cements itself as one of Telltale’s best series, on the same calibre as the masterful first season of The Walking Dead. The way it effortlessly blends goofy comedy with real emotional depth is something to be applauded. Moreover, it’s the consistency of this series that has made it stand out; there hasn’t been a bad episode, or anything even close to one. They’ve all been excellent, with an immensely satisfying finale that ties up all loose ends and possibly setting up the lead-in for the inevitable Borderlands 3.

The Vault of the Traveler immediately deals with the fallout of the big decision made last time with Rhys either voluntarily giving control over Helios to Jack, or not so voluntarily shall we say. Turns out Jack was somewhat unsurprisingly manipulating Rhys all along, planning to use his body as a conduit to form a Hyperion army of Jacks. Rhys and his gang manage to escape from the space station, but the small matter of the vault still needs to be dealt with as they return to Pandora.

There are also a few ongoing mysteries that still need to be answered, such as the identity of the Stranger who kidnapped Rhys and Fiona right at the start, and the whereabouts of Vaughn. These plot threads are resolved with aplomb, with the reveal of the Stranger in particular being a complete delight to experience.

All the decisions you’ve made count for something too, as it has a huge impact in how the finale develops, be it the friends you’ve made, cash you’ve saved or words you’ve said, all are taken into account when preparing for the final clash. It’s a development that will demand multiple playthroughs to unlock every possible eventuality, which is something I’m certainly keen to do.

The narrative in general is so emotionally satisfying, the big set-piece moments are woven into the story more naturally than it’s ever been, with extended combat sequences complementing the dialogue and pacing, instead of being included for the sake of variety. The big final act provides the proof, a monumental confrontation that takes the form of an old-school fighting-game battle, but infused with the series’ fantastic humour.

The writing is once again wonderful, with a breadth of character arcs and heartfelt moments handled with real elegance, the comedy meanwhile is as good as ever, witty exchanges and scenarios revel in absurdity. Premier voice casting talent such as the likes of Nolan North, Laura Bailey, Ashley Johnson and Troy Baker are all involved. It’s abundantly clear then, that this series is a real passion project for the team, and this love has been reflected in the game’s overall quality.

Tales from the Borderlands has been a joy to play from start to finish, staking its claim to be not only Telltale’s finest series but also one of the best modern adventure titles ever made.

9/10

+Outstanding characters

+Brilliant writing and sense of humour

+Decisions do matter

+Character arcs and other mysteries satisfyingly resolved