Tales from the Borderlands has officially reached its halfway point with the release of the series' third episode, "Catch A Ride." As one might imagine, the stakes have risen significantly, with the hunt for a Vault key only intensifying. Interestingly, while there have been some key references made to the first two episodes, there have also been some pieces shuffled. It makes "Catch A Ride" a captivating halfway point; one that advances the plot of the main two characters, while also introducing even more big-time players from the Borderlands universe.
The story has taken a fascinating turn, with the Gortys Project turning out to be unlike anything any of the characters expected. This revelation sets up the main plot of the episode, which involves finding an upgrade that will lead to the Vault that everyone's looking for. This is where a new main antagonist has stepped forward, one with an interesting tie to Fiona and Sasha. In fact, much of what happens in the episode revolves around the con artist trio of Pandora, with the new players all acting either in the interest of or actively against Fiona, Sasha, and Felix.
The game's other main plotline also takes something of a fascinating turn, as Handsome Jack continues to assert himself in a number of ways, whether Rhys likes it or not. The main Borderlands baddie's influence over Rhys is only growing, leading to what's sure to be a pivotal moment in the story's climax. One thing to appreciate about Jack is that while he certainly has the power to solve many of Rhys' problems, Telltale isn't going overboard with him as a deux ex machina. Jack's power is used within reason, which allows the main characters to solve many of their problems on their own. It's a major part of their overall growth, which they display plenty of in this episode.
Telltale also makes sure to throw in some swerves to those that may have acted too conservatively in the opening two episodes. While players are given a choice to blow their wad or hoard their resources at certain points across all three episodes, one particular point in "Catch A Ride" renders one of those instances entirely moot. Those that were hoping to hoard some resources for the right moment may feel a bit cheated, but this honestly feels somewhat refreshing and offers more encouragement to really take some chances sometimes. Sometimes you'll be rewarded and other times you won't, but that's really part of the gamble of those moments.
The interactive moments continue to take cues from the Borderlands world, though there are plenty of Telltale-style QTEs to be found. There are a lot of action moments, especially as the episode reaches its conclusion. However, the truly enjoyable action scenes come earlier with Telltale employing more traditional Borderlands-style shooting into the mix.
There weren't as many "fish story" moments in this episode (with the exception of one major whopper from Fiona early on), which in some ways is symbolic of the main characters' growth. The more they come into their own, the less they need to rely on exaggerations or outrageous lies. Of course, that somewhat begs the question of how Rhys and Fiona are where they are at the episode's beginning, but that's another story.
Tales from the Borderlands' third episode is surprising in many ways. The character growth is genuinely nice to see, with Telltale sprinkling in moments of friendship, family, bonding, and even romance. And those moments don't exactly come from characters you might expect, either. The game started off as a humorous take on the Borderlands world, but now it's starting to develop into a tale with some real heart.