Game Review: Tales from the Boarderlands (with Mod Zan!)

Hi readers, watchers, and listeners! It’s Mod Zan with a game review for your reading pleasure. I already talked about how my game of the month was Tales from the Borderlands, but since I’ve finally finished it up I felt that it was time to sit down and give it a thorough review so that you can decide whether or not it’s something that you want to pick up for yourselves!

In my review, I’ll cover Visual and Audio, Gameplay, Story, and then give you my final thoughts. All of these will be coming from a feminist perspective to give you the most accurate overview of the game.


Visual and Audio:  

This is a telltale game and a Borderlands game. Therefore, the graphics aren’t going to be mind-blowingly realistic and unrealistically beautiful. However, seeing the two games come together was incredible, particularly since their styles are so similar. The art style was a perfect combination and made me feel like the game I was playing really mattered in the scope of the Borderlands universe. The game also preserved the feeling of the Borderlands universe in its backgrounds and its character models, which worked well.

From a feminist perspective, the characters were all well-made and didn’t have a lot of the usual issues that often come with female characters. Borderlands is better than most about including well-made ladies but isn’t immune from the design flaws that often appear in their costumes.

In this game, the costumes all made sense and didn’t show a ton of skin just for the sake of it, though I might add that Moxxxi was absent from this game for the most part short of a brief voice-only cameo.

And speaking of audio, the soundtrack to this game was nothing short of excellent. I ended up downloading many of the songs that they played during the intro credits for me to listen to on my own time. Overall, they did really well with the design and graphics for this game and it all worked together really nicely with a few exceptions that I’ll mention later in the game.

Gameplay:

The gameplay is a classic for a telltale game. Choice based, occasional combat but mainly operates through quick time events and button mashing prompts. To go into some more technical aspects, I’d like to say right now that I started attempting to play this on my Xbox 360 with my roommate. The game glitched so intensely by episode 4 (and not to mention all of the glitches that skipped dialogue and exposition in earlier episodes) that it was completely unplayable. I was only able to play it on my PS4, where I didn’t have any issues. If you are going to buy this game, don’t get it for the last gen because you will be wasting your money.

Telltale historically has had problems with glitchy games before, and this one is not an exception if you’re purchasing for last gen. It’s pretty unacceptable, and I haven’t seen any attempt from their end to solve this problem, which is disconcerting at best. Regardless, the gameplay was well integrated with the story and made for an excellent experience when it worked.

Story:

And here we are, at the big player in this game. The story is integral to this game as it is with every telltale game. Borderlands and Borderlands 2, however, are usually not games that are renown for their epic storylines as standalones. When you put them together, along with the Pre-Sequel and all of the DLC you get an intense (but somewhat convoluted) epic story that spans multiple parties of people and even planets. Tales from the Borderlands is by far one of the best stories that I’ve seen so far out of all of the Borderlands games I’ve played. The characters are incredibly endearing and have distinct personalities that all work very well together.

Fiona and Rhys both being playable was a wonderful method to the game and gave you some variety in a story-based game that could be easy to stagnate. There was consistent action throughout each episode, and it was well-paced. I never wanted an episode to be over so that I could finally get to a new point in the story. I loved each character, and they never prioritized the male characters over the female characters. There is a canon gay relationship, and it’s two of the most dangerous/skilled women in the game. In intense emotional scenes, the relationship between two sisters is portrayed as the deepest.

It’s a perfect culmination of action, adventure, friendship, romance, and humor. That being said, the representation in this game from a feminist perspective has its good points and bad ones.

The main villains are (as always) Handsome Jack, a man with complete confidence in his moral and personal superiority regardless of how many horrific acts he commits, and Valerie, an older crime overlord who lugs around a giant rocket launcher and has no problem murdering whoever she needs to get what she wants. It’s nice to see an older woman represented in a game with her age, weight, and appearance never being mentioned in a negative light.

However, when it comes to racial representation the game is sorely lacking. One of the main characters who is white has dreads (and granted, she could be a black person with incredibly light skin, but I think that’s a bit of a long shot.) There are only two people of color that I can recall from the game, and one of them turns out to be a backstabber, and the other worked for an evil corporation and now lives in one of their derelict facilities in hiding.

Though the game has good gender representation and some representation in sexuality, its racial representation has a lot to be desired. Though I loved this game, I hope to see a lot more from Telltale in the future when it comes to representation as well as the mechanical functioning of their games.

TALES-FROM-THE-BORDERLANDS adventure action fighting shooter tales borderlands


Overall, Tales from the Borderlands gets a 7/10 overall: a 10/10 on Story, 9/10 on Visual and Audio, and a 3.5/10 for Representation. If you can pick it up, you should while it’s still free. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next time!


– Mod Zan

Feminism in Gaming: The Wolf Among Us with Mod Knight!

Hey everyone! Mod Knight here with another round of Feminism in Gaming! This time, we’ll be covering a really, really great game: The Wolf Among Us by Telltale games.

Now, if you’ve ever played a game by Telltale, you know they they’re rich in story, character, and depth; and this game is no different!! But, this isn’t a review of the story or gameplay, we’re here to take a look at how this game handles important issues. Be warned! Spoilers will follow in this article.

Lets begin by looking at the premise of the game: Sheriff Bigby Wolf (formerly the big bad wolf) must investigate a series of murders in a New York town filled with fairy tale characters; as he digs deeper, he stumbles onto a much darker plot.

Let’s start off by taking a look at some of the issues this game addresses. In the very first chapter, you’re called in to handle a dispute which appears to have turned into an assault, with a drunken man attacking a female prostitute. During the confrontation, not only is she not shown as powerless. Ultimately, she is the one who ends the fight by burying an axe into her attacker’s head (he gets better). Bigby befriends the woman, only to find her dead later on, beginning the true investigation the game revolves around.

Now, while this gets dangerously close to “Fridging” territory, ultimately the murder in question is much more, as not only are we meant learn more about her and the circumstances regarding her death, but also, we see the effect it has on the community as a whole. And when the deaths continue, we see that the game really wants us to feel the impact of each loss.

Now, luckily, the game doesn’t only present it’s female characters in the form of meaningful deaths! No, instead we have several great examples of strong, well developed female characters, both protagonists, antagonists, and major side characters.

Let’s look especially at one who is, arguably, the second most important character in the game after the protagonist: Snow White. Snow is presented as a strong woman with a bit of an independent streak, to the point that she can seem aloof or cold. However, she is actually deeply compassionate and cares for the people under her watch. Not only does she serve directly under the deputy mayor, by the end of the game, she becomes the new mayor; unsurprising due to her talent for leadership and charismatic nature.

Not only does the game deal with violence, it also goes into themes revolving around sex workers and the way that they are treated. In the game, the women who work in the sex industry are shown to be respectable, good people. Rather than treating the workers badly, the game goes and points out the corruption in the industry, and how sex workers are often treated as if they were of little value. Not only that, but it goes out of its way to vilify those who treat them with disrespect!

Ultimately, The Wolf Among Us, is a game that takes deep, dark themes, and handles them with extreme grace and ease, the characters in game are dynamic and multifaceted, and the story bends and twists along with them. Ultimately, I have to say that this game is beyond my expectations, and it’s one that many game companies could learn from.