Saturday, April 4, 2015

Tales from the Borderlands: Episode 2 Review (and Why I am Falling out of Love with Telltale)

One of my favorite video game franchises is Borderlands (my review - albeit way beyond late - of The Pre-Sequel is coming up soon), and until fairly recently, I was a huge fan of Telltale Games. So when they announced last fall that they would be making an episodic series based on Borderlands, I was VERY excited.

The first episode was really funny and was a refreshing break from Telltale's signature misery that seems to run through The Walking Dead, Wolf among Us, and Game of Thrones. There were literary allusions, in-jokes for franchise fans, and enough chaotic nonsense to feel at home in the canon.

That was in November. Episode 2 was promised for January, pushed back to February, and then guaranteed for early March. So when it finally was released in late March, it was a bit of a letdown for fans. Telltale consistently has this problem - and that was the beginning of what led me to fall out of love with them. I don't mind waiting for games, even the episodic games, because I would prefer a better game with no bugs than a rushed delivery (Borderlands is facing this right now with the Handsome Collection, because developers these days are so focused on deadlines and not on whether the game is actually playable). However, I am starting to wonder if Telltale is just in the wrong business. They do this ALL THE TIME and you would think after five very popular franchises, not to mention several others that were smaller, they would have figured out deadline management. Instead, they fill Twitter feeds with more and more marketing - and still can't release an episode on time. Maybe they should become a PR firm instead, since they seem to love that way more than actually developing games.

Anyway, I still looked forward to this and the reviews were amazing, so I expected a lot. Sadly, I was disappointed. It was still funny and definitely had plenty of jokes, but I just felt like they weren't really trying. As a whole, the entire episode just felt like there was no passion left for the game. There are three more episodes, so that's a really bad sign. Maybe it was my mood on the day I played, but I didn't get the same energy from this as from the first one. The ending did leave a lot of questions and finally seemed to get the story back on its feet, though, so again, it could just be sophomore blues.

I think my biggest concern is that Telltale Games doesn't appear to be handling growing pains well. They went from a fairly small developer to a leader very quickly, but now they are just starting to look like all the other big ones - faceless corporations more concerned about the bottom line than quality. They market until you end up unfollowing them, but they don't interact anymore. They are only interested in communicating with the same groups of people, and their fans, who used to be their lifeblood and really did seem to have a community going, are now seemingly behind a wall - good enough to pay, but not to acknowledge or consider anymore. I hope that it's something they evaluate and adjust to soon, because a studio that was a favorite is now starting to wear me down. A year ago, I would have bought anything they produced - regardless of interest because I would have known it would be great. Now, I feel like I am only reluctantly continuing the games I already have the season passes for, with a whole lot of a bitter taste in my mouth. (I do still enjoy the Game of Thrones game, but I feel like all my love for Telltale is gone and that's disappointing.)

No comments:

Post a Comment