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Tales from the Borderlands: Episode 1 - Zer0 Sum

Moby ID: 75355
PlayStation 3 Specs


Zer0 Sum is the first episode of Tales from the Borderlands, a five-part episodic adventure series based on the universe of the Borderlands first-person shooter titles. The game is set in the world of Pandora where the Borderlands is a dangerous region where advanced alien technology is stored in vaults. It draws the attention of hunters who travel there to raid the vaults and acquire the technology. The introduction mentions Handsome Jack and his Hyperion faction of pirates, but then starts in medias res.

The game opens with the character Rhys in a desert. He is looking for someone called Fiona, but is captured by a man interested in the Gortys project. It turns out he has captured Fiona as well and the entire game is then told as flashbacks, alternating between Rhys and Fiona, to explain how they got up to that point. In the first extensive flashback Rhys is introduced. He is a company man working for Handsome Jack's Hyperion. Rhys is about to get a promotion, but finds out his boss Henderson has been murdered and is replaced by his nemesis Vasquez. He is promptly demoted Senior Vice Janitor. He overhears a shady deal of Vazquez and involves his friends Yvette and Vaughn to obtain the vault key Vasquez is after. They travel to Pandora carrying Hyperion funds to make the deal, but quickly become involved with bandits and then the people who want to trade the key for money.

The second flashback introduces Fiona. She is a con artist born and raised on Pandora with her sister Sasha. Together with their mentor and surrogate father Felix they devise elaborate scams. They try to sell a fake vault key, which is what eventually brings Rhys and Fiona together. She uses a false identity as an archaeologist to gain the trust of August, who has a good reputation to interest Vazquez at Hyperion. The meeting between the two parties is eventually crashed by a fight between the two characters Bossanova and Zer0. Bossanova gets away with the money and the parties of Rhys and Fiona reluctantly team up to sneak inside Bossanova's facility to retrieve the money. The game then splits up for two pairs of characters who taken different routes. Rhys and Sasha try to enter the underground, while Fiona and Vaughn discover the briefcase has become a prize in a death race. The episode ends in the present with the captured protagonists at the moment of the flashback when they find out about the Gortys project.

The game uses the same cel-shaded visual style as the original Borderlands games. Similar to other Telltale adventure series, the game is story driven and largely cinematic. The player can influence and steer the story through dialogue options that have a time limit. If time runs out, silence or the neutral option is chosen automatically. Choices are carried over and influence the story and the relationships with other characters. The game has many humorous moments and lighter themes than other Telltale games. There are short quick time events for fights and some other actions where prompts need to be followed. For certain scenes there is complete freedom of movement to walk around, examine and talk to other characters. There are also minor puzzle-solving elements. Fiona can collect money hidden in the environment, stored in her bank account. A sufficient amount of money can be used as an additional option in some situations, for instance to bribe a bouncer or to buy a better helmet for the death race. As control over the characters alternates often quickly in succession, and they often bend the truth their way, the player has to adapt quickly between their mindsets as they can cause each other trouble by constantly pursuing their own interests.

For all platforms listed here this first episode is available separately (unlike the PC version) and is entirely free. The remaining four episodes can be purchased as single episodes or as episode packs, depending on the platform, with this first episode as the base game.

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Credits (PlayStation 4 version)

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Average score: 81% (based on 4 ratings)


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Game added by Sciere.

Game added October 21, 2015. Last modified November 18, 2023.