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Cute: Borderlands 2D

Ahhh, brings back the non-existent memories, doesn't it?

Yes, the 2D demake thing has been done many, many times before, and yeah, retro-nostalgia-mania is currently sweeping the planet so thoroughly that the Louvre has recently undertaken a project to update all its most priceless pieces of artwork with Instagram filters, but damn it, I sort of like this silly little 2D version of Borderlands 2. I mean, it’s called “The Border Lands.” That alone is weirdly brilliant. Also, in spite of being extremely limited and simple, it’s actually sort of fun.

The basic formula is – fittingly enough – nothing new. It’s kind of a top-down twin-stick shooter, except without the intuitive aiming of a real twin-stick game. And yes, it fits with the clunky retro aesthetic, but it also creates this awkward setup where you have to already be firing if you want to, say, back up and continue attacking at the same time. Otherwise, you’ll just turn and walk in the other direction.

That aside, though, Borderlands’ randomized weapons steal the show here, and I think that’s probably why I ended up playing for [distressing number of minutes that will not be divulged for fear of revealing my terrible taste in all things]. Heck, I even kept going after it became apparent that the rail gun that fires from both sides is, in fact, the true essence of gun, as described by Plato. And then I discovered an Eridian blaster that did basically the same thing, only rapid fire. And all the while, a same-y selection of enemies (and no bosses) only grew slightly stronger while I evolved into a tiny, 16-bit god.

There is, in other words, not a lot of challenge here. But it’s good for a quick laugh and – in spite of some rather glaring issues – even a bit fun on its own merits. So go! Try it! Reward Gearbox for its strange ability to be both horrifically unoriginal and somehow novel at the same time.

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Nathan Grayson

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