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Tales from the Borderlands: Episode 4 – Escape Plan Bravo Review

After the events of Catch a Ride, our villains-cum-heroes were in a spot of bother. Athena was kidnapped, Gortys was extremely vulnerable and Rhys, Fiona and Sasha were defenseless and outnumbered by Vallory’s goons. Their only plan, without getting killed, would be to surrender and  retrieve Gortys’ second vault piece on Helios.

It’s a sticky situation and one that unfolds without haste. With no other option, our gang is instructed by Vallory to bring back the missing piece from the giant space station overhead back to Pandora. But  due to Rhys’ relationship with Hyperion and Helios, his actions from previous episodes haven’t gone unnoticed. On Helios, Rhys is a wanted man and securing the vault piece requires co-operation and tact.

Escape Plan Bravo has a lengthy introduction: there are resources to be gathered and alliances need to be solidified. It could be over half an hour before players witness a classic Tales from the Borderlands opening cutscene similar to a tight-knit crew boarding for a maiden space voyage. Depending on your choice, having Scooter along for the ride adds so much this episode as the adept mechanic undergoes significant character development – whilst making every scene as awkward as possible. His larger role in the series is most welcome.

Cue Telltale-style intro.
Cue epic Telltale-style intro.

In Escape Plan Bravo, players are given a slower-paced, studied build-up to replace the sense of adventure and frenetic action sequences that Tales From the Borderlands usually delivers. It’s a polarising trade-off and one that, for the most part, actually works against the series. It drifts so far from the familiar formula that the lack of emphasis given to the usual pace of combat – left by previous installments – makes Escape Plan Bravo the weakest entry in the series.

Vasquez makes a return appearance and plays a significant part in the gang’s plans to infiltrate Helios. But despite Rhys’ confidence, not everything goes right – hence the episode’s apt title. Fiona and Rhys have several great encounters as the plan is carried out, but despite some tense dialogue with other characters, it all adds up to nothing.

Familiar tasks like using Rhys’ ECHO eye scanner for prolonged periods decelerates any pace that Telltale Games managed to accumulate. Also, segments like posing as a tour guide in order to obtain a staff ID card linger and genuinely feel like areas of filler.

Due to the pace of Episode Four, your choices in-between the beginning and conclusion carry far less weight. There are few big moments and all feel like simple stepping stones towards the ending. Going back, the opposing choices made with Athena’s girlfriend, Jayne, have no impact. Furthermore, your encounter with Yvette yields no difference to the episode’s conclusion. However, if Telltale Games have done one thing well, it’s been moulding Handsome Jack into the story.

Scooter: the surprise packet of Escape Plan Bravo.
Scooter: the surprise packet of Escape Plan Bravo.

His frequent holographic appearance and ability to assist in certain situations has given Rhys time to create or destroy a potential alliance. If you have decided on the latter path, you are going to have a more troubling time winning Jack over in your moment of need. A fleeting moment of emotion from Jack is a particular highlight, and reveals a chink in his exceptionally thick coat of armour: recalling the relationship with his estranged daughter, Angel. Jack’s involvement inside Rhys’ head has manifested into one moment, and in Escape Plan Bravo, Jack becomes a serious threat. Though his rude sense of humour remains and saves this installment from becoming too dry, this penultimate episode is a point of no return for the two.

Escape Plan Bravo does not deliver an edge-of-your-seat ending and is an unnecessarily bumpy ride. Despite an epic imaginary gun shootout with a crowd of Hyperion accountants, Telltale has left the season finale with all the work to do. Interestingly, almost every character in the game thus far still has a part to play in The Vault of the Traveller. Whilst Rhys and Fiona’s future kidnapper remains unmasked, Vaughn, Athena, and some infamous Vault Hunters are yet to make another appearance. Here’s hoping episode five can end on a high note!

A successful Escape.

A satisfactory lead-up to the finale.


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