By Marty Mulrooney
Escape Plan Bravo is the penultimate episode of Tales From The Borderlands, a five-part episodic video game series from Telltale Games (The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us). Continuing right where the previous episode left off, Episode 4 follows Rhys and Fiona’s unlikely band of heroes (and baddies) into outer space. Their mission: infiltrate the Hyperion moon base…
Disappointingly, Escape Plan Bravo doesn’t start with a highly memorable musically accompanied opening title sequence, a staple (and continual episodic highlight) of the series so far. Instead… this title sequence comes at the midway point – and it’s spectacular. Set to the tune of Twin Shadow’s new song To The Top (video game fans may recognise him as the DJ of Grand Theft Auto V’s Radio Mirror Park – his hit song Old Love/New Love also featured heavily in that game), we see our heroes embarking on their most dangerous mission yet… but we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
Before any of that happens, things pick up right where they left off on Pandora with Episode 3’s cliffhanger ending. With Athena out of the picture, Rhys and Fiona’s gang are captured by Vallory and her goons. Held at gunpoint, they’re forced into helping Vallory continue the search for the Vault beacon, which is located on the Hyperion moon base – Helios. There’s only the pesky problem of all that ‘space’ in the way, but luckily Fiona and Sasha know just the mechanic for the job…
Meanwhile, Rhys needs to peel off and recover a recently removed face that is being worn by a bomb vest-wearing psychopath… it’s absolutely disgusting and surprisingly hilarious (don’t ask). The first half of the episode is all about planning – it’s the classic heist formula with a twist. Yet the best parts of the episode come when the gang are actually on Heilos, the shit hits the fan and they need to improvise, improvise, improvise.
It’s an episode that offers an embarrassment of riches. The comedy is on point throughout, the story has twists and turns that are genuinely surprising and engaging and despite the absurdity of many of the situations, there’s even enough room for moments of genuine emotional impact that will pluck at player’s heartstrings. It’s a balancing act that Telltale Games has seemingly perfected with Tales from the Borderlands – this is without doubt their most consistently crowd-pleasing endeavour to date.
Escape Plan Bravo is yet another fantastic episode of Tales from the Borderlands. Yes the game engine still struggles from time to time when transitioning between camera angles, but the incredible performances, stylised art direction and accomplished dramatic storytelling – treading the fine line between on-target comedy and outright slapstick – is an achievement well worth shouting about. The ending will leave your mouth hanging open, before your brain catches up and you realise there’s only one episode left. Based on what’s been released so far, it’s going to be the bittersweet cherry on top of a very satisfying cake. Let’s just hope it doesn’t bleed when we cut it, eh Fiona?
9 OUT OF 10