Thoughts on Until Dawn

My girlfriend is an interesting character. She has shown no interest in playing video games, nor does she particularly enjoy horror movies, but for some reason she enjoys watching me play horror games. This started when I was playing through Resident Evil 7, and since then when I end up with a new Horror title to play with, she wants to watch. It works for me, and it gives us something else to bond over, even if the game isn’t particularly good.

Last month, Until Dawn was part of the Playstation Plus monthly free lineup, and I downloaded it without knowing when I’d get around to playing it. I had heard decent things about it back when it released in 2015, but it was never a game I felt I had to have. Having actually played quite a bit of it now I can say that it’s an interesting title, but I’m glad that I didn’t pay money for it.

That isn’t to say it’s terrible. It’s chock full of cliched horror tropes, the voice acting and character models are fine, and it has some jump scares and gore to boot (plus lots of talk of sex, though that typically means someone is about to die). Despite being full of these cliches, it manages to mix themes from several horror movies that we’ve seen over the years, and there are some interesting sub-layers that I would assume make for a more complete experience.

You remember that movie “The Butterfly Effect?” That is one of the main sub-themes of this title. The Butterfly Effect is a principal that goes like this: A flap of a butterfly’s wings can lead to a string of events that cause a hurricane elsewhere. This game splashes this concept throughout, and you choices in individual scenarios change the narrative of the game. Like TellTale games and other titles where “choices matter,” it’s apparent that there are likely multiple endings and ways that things can go with this game.

I powered through the first 6-ish chapters and have found the story line to be intriguing, if not a bit vague and confusing. Scenes between “episodes” have a mysterious figure being seen by a therapist. I won’t spoil anything here but the mystery man plays a major role in the story. I’ve made choices and people have died. I’ve made choices and people lived. Various innocuous actions have various consequences. It’s definitely more of an interactive narrative than a Resident Evil or Silent Hill game, combat is next to non-existent and there is more time spent chatting and watching cut scenes than actually playing. Of course there are plenty of QTE’s as well, which fans of horror/adventure games will be used to. Honestly, if you play TellTale or similarly styled games you’ll probably enjoy this one. As long as you can get past the terrible teenaged drama these kids bring upon themselves.

As I haven’t finished the game yet I can’t say if the ending will make me want to play through again for a different one, but I will see it through to its end. If you got it for free like I did, you should at least give it a whirl. Otherwise I’d recommend waiting for a sale, as it’s not really worth a full $60. Still a mildly entertaining diversion.

TWD A New Frontier Episode 3

The most recent chapter of the newest Walking Dead series from TellTale Games released this past week and I took an evening at home to play through it. I must say, I love the way cameos from the show and comics appear through the series. One season we saw a glimpse of Glen, Michonne got her own spin off series, and now we have Jesus making his own appearance. It also feels that the game has matured, and I don’t just mean because it has graphic elements, but moreso in the story telling itself. It feels wretched when the bad things and the tough choices come about, but there is that sense of following your own personal instincts in guiding the story. I grew tired of the same ol’ formula with TellTale games, just like I did with the same old Call of Duty every year, but because of my deep investment into this series (comics, show, multiple games) I still enjoy this one. It’s of particular note, and I’m not sure if I mentioned it in my last post about the new series, but the game runs much better on a PS4 compared to the first seasons on the PS3. I’m sure PC users don’t have this issue. I chose to stay on console because I played the originals on console. But I digress.

I’m sure that you can infer just from the choices above that there was some difficulty in what to do throughout episode 3. It seems that choices were fairly evenly split if you consider that only two were very far from center. I don’t want to spoil anything further, but just wanted to share some thoughts on my continued playthrough of the game.

GoT: The Ice Dragon

Episode 6 of the Game of Thrones epic from TellTale Games has finally come to a close and with it, the end of the Forrester’s story. Maybe. See, the ending tied up many of the story’s loose ends, but then also left some openings for a second season to be told. However, it seems that portions that would be able to be continued would have to wait for the books and/or TV show to catch up or finish, as the Forresters were squeezed in between recognizable characters from the Books/TV, yet not mentioned at least on the TV show (I can’t be sure with the novels as I have not read them [I know, shame on me or some such nonsense]).

I have to say that my enthusiasm for this particular story line had started to wane with the dramatic ending of the fifth episode. Much like the source material, characters you get attached to have a bad habit of dying off in terrible ways. There was also a marked sense of a rushed product, despite the usual pattern of episodic releases coinciding with another separate game being developed at the same time. However, I didn’t have that feeling with Tales From The Borderlands — it worked well enough and I didn’t really have much to complain about, despite playing both of these newest series on the PS3, the least powerful of options. I feel that part of the issues I had with performance — namely stuttering, and a complete lack of any sound effects/music (only the voice overs) for the last ten minutes of the final episode — can be blamed on the console and poor optimization for last-gen tech. But I still feel as if this last episode was rushed out the door, but perhaps it was only because I was playing on last-gen. Either way, it felt rather shitty to have played all of their titles on the PS3 with no issues, to have glaring ones this time. So yeah, story and performance were both downers, and honestly I feel like there isn’t much left to see in this genre from this developer.

I really enjoyed The Walking Dead, Wolf Among Us and Tales From The Borderlands, but Minecraft doesn’t appeal to me and I have no idea what their future plans are. I think if they hit on another IP I love I just might have to throw more money at them anyway, but I won’t be doing it unless it’s PS4/PC because the performance on last-gen tech is inexcusable.

Anyway, this last episode was fine and dandy, I completed it in the same amount of time as usual. What I really liked it the end game recap that showed all of your choices broken down through the entire series, and I can see where things might actually turn out quite a bit differently if I would have made other choices. I would have to test this theory to be sure, but it seems the choices in this game had far graver consequences than previous TellTale titles.

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Normally I’d do a break down of how I came to these choices, but honestly, this is probably the last TellTale post I’ll be doing for quite some time, so I’m just going to leave you with my choices and a hesitant recommendation to play it. If you like GoT, you’ll probably enjoy this… however if you are sick of the vulgarity that is GoT, it might be best to just skip it. I would definitely recommend TFTB over this title. Secondly, if you do pick this or any of their other titles up, I’d recommend doing so on something newer, so perhaps the stuttering issues and problems I had might be avoided.

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That’s all for today.

Vault of the Traveler

TaleTell Games’ Tales From the Borderlands series just wrapped up, and I must say it’s one of the biggest and most ambitious of their projects to date. The building anticipation for this final episode was growing exponentially each episode, and the finale didn’t let me down. There were some awesome action sequences while you control Gortys in a semi-Voltron-meets-Power-Rangers type of battle, there was plenty to pull on your heart-strings, and the ending was left wide open for something else to come later… hopefully this means there will be a season 2, even if it focuses on different characters. Finding out who the mysterious stranger that was holding Rhys and Fiona captive through the underlying narrative was a pleasant surprise, and finding Vaughn again was cool as well. Overall the multiple side story lines came together in one epic conclusion and I loved it. Sure, you don’t get to really “play” the game much, it’s more of an interactive story. Sure, there are some optimization issues (particularly on the PS3, where every time the game auto-saves you end up with audio playing, but a frozen screen). But if you can look past the ugly, you’ll find some great features and an even greater story line. I loved it. Fans of the Borderlands IP will love it too. If you haven’t picked it up yet, do yourself a favor and grab it, especially if you can get it on sale. It’s an easy play through with a great payoff. So, hopefully that wasn’t too spoiler-y. Let’s go over my choices for this episode, shall we?

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While playing as Fiona, there’s a portion of the episode where Gortys is engaged with the Vault monster, and you need to get to Vallory to stop her from attacking Gortys with a big-ass rocket launcher. Finch is lying nearby and stops you to gloat about the death of Sasha (which isn’t entirely true). You can either end him, or let him bleed out. I chose the latter, as did the majority of players. This is the last time we’ll see him. Oh yeah, Vallory doesn’t last much longer either.

There’s a portion later on where Fiona and Rhys are questioning the mysterious guy who’s been holding them hostage throughout the game (the rest of the gameplay is actually a story they’re telling to the stranger). Rhys tells her to be the bad cop, and he’ll be the good cop. I went along with this idea, along with the majority of players. He ends up going bad cop too though, and hilarity ensues. Seriously, I don’t usually laugh out loud at video games, but the snappy dialogue in this title had me rolling.

Lastly, when all is said and done, Rhys and Fiona enter the vault and are heading to the ultimate prize — the chest inside it. Fiona had been harping on Rhys for a while about being sweet on Sasha, and at this point, finally has the option of telling him to stay away, or giving her blessing. The overwhelming majority of the playerbase gave him the go-ahead, myself included.

As Rhys, there is a point where you are able to finally rid the world of Jack. Despite being his idol, he finally saw how terrible of a person Jack was. Jack does give Rhys props for bringing down Helios and being “way better at killing people” than him, but it needed to be done. Most players agree, Jack had to go. Watching Rhys pull out all of his cybernetics was kinda rough though.

And finally, as I mentioned with the last Fiona choice, she had been ragging on Rhys about liking Sasha, and there was an oportunity to come clean about it. I admitted to it, and that leads to Fiona giving her blessing.

Not too many impactful choices in this episode, but the gameplay and story was worth it nonetheless. I think this is the first time that I was in the majority with all of the choices in an episode, in any of the TellTale games that I’ve played to this point. Nonetheless, the overall rating I’d give the entire series would be a 9/10. It was fantastic, and I’d urge you to try it, particularly if you’re a Borderlands fan. Even if you don’t like TellTale, you’ll probably like this.

Escape Plan Bravo

Episode 4 of TellTale Games’ Tales From The Borderlands series was probably my favorite so far. There was action, intrigue, humorous dialog and plenty of story choices to keep you busy. Keeping with my usual theme of not giving too much away but still discussing my choices through the episode, let’s jump into it:

Starting with Fiona’s choices, there is a point in the episode where the rag-tag group is heading up to the Hyperion Space Station, which most fans of the Borderlands franchise should already know orbits Pandora’s moon of Elpis. Scooter has joined the crew and it comes to a point where he has to play hero and sacrifice himself (don’t worry, I think he’ll end up being fine). There was a short scene prior to that where he explained that he was going to launch a satellite advertisement while they were on their way, but you had convinced him to wait until the return trip. After his sacrifice, you are given a choice of several things to display on the satellite image, and I chose to honor him as “the best mechanic.” This was a fluff choice and as such it just seems that I picked one of the less popular options.

Later, while on Hyperion’s station, Fiona has to play the part of a tour guide in Handsome Jack’s VIP office tour. This is where he ruled the corporation before his untimely death in Borderlands 2, and has since been turned into yet another way for Hyperion to make money off the backs of dead people. There is a group of douchebag tourists who give you a hard time while wining the tour guide thing, and eventually when coming to Jack’s actual office room, you notice a force field barring entry. Most tour guides warned the tourists of this fact. I did not. I’m in the minority there.

Finally, while trying to escape from this VIP area, you are confronted by a guard and have to make the choice of escape plans. It was unclear what the effects of each choice would make, as there was only the images of a mural of Jack and of Butt Stallion, but no real way of knowing what would happen dependent on your choice. I went with Butt Stallion, because earlier I had talked about how it “poops guns” and thought I might make use of those, but instead Fiona shoots at the horse, and it started to bleed! Not sure if Butt Stallion will be ok, but Fiona is whisked away to the prison level at this point. I was with the majority on this choice.

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On to Rhys, there is a scene where Fiona is questioning if you are 100% in going through with the plan to go back to the Hyperion station, and Jack has been talking to you in his holographic form that only you can see. He warns against telling your companions about his presence, and since I’ve been keeping that a secret throughout the previous episodes, I continued to lie. Turns out Jack told Rhys where the next Gortys piece would be, because Jack had it in his office. I told the others, but since Rhys couldn’t possibly know that, it took being quick on my feet to lie and say the information was hidden in my database. Rhys is part machine after all. I was with the majority here.

Later, while disguised as Vasquez (I’ll leave that part spoiler free for you to discover) Rhys is confronted by Yvette who seems to have double crossed him and Vaughn. There’s a point where she starts to call security, and I used Dumpy (the little flying robot from previous episodes) to shock the shit out of her. No security calls today, not for you. It seems mostly every other player to this point took another route, but fuck people who backstab their friends.

Near the end of the episode, Rhys finally makes it into Jack’s office and gets the next Gortys piece. Knowing what is at stake here, Jack starts to weigh on Rhys. He thinks Rhys has what it takes to rule Hyperion. He wants to stay with Rhys and rule the company together. As much as I like Jack, and as much as I’ve used his help to this point and wanted him to be on my side, I just couldn’t bring myself to be a part of that scummy corporation, so I rejected his offer. He wasn’t happy, but I’ll leave that bit spoiler free as well. I was with the majority of players here too, but I wonder if they went about things the same way I did?

I encourage those of you who have played these TellTale games to let me know your choices so we can compare notes! It’s interesting to see how much or how little the overall story changes with these facets. That’s all for now. There’s only one more episode of this series left, along with only one more of GoT, so we’re nearing the end of this round of adventures.


Another Crystal run, and this ended up being the furthest I’ve gone in a Daily since I started doing this, for lack of a better term, daily.

#talesfromtheborderlands #telltalegames #narrative