Guardians of the Galaxy starts off with a tremendous action sequence. It’s refreshing to see you thrust into the midst of events right from the get-go. Instead of building up to a thrilling confrontation, the Guardians take on Thanos—one of the most powerful begins in the Marvel Universe—at the start of the game. While the title has a multitude of thrills, it doesn’t quite live up to the quality we expect from past Telltale experiences.
Contrary to expectations, you control Peter Quill, better known as Star-Lord, throughout the game. The promotional material made it sound like you could play as all the characters but that only occurs during certain quick time events. This is rather surprising because the plot focuses on the motivations of various characters but you’re confined to just one.
There is a lot of infighting among the Guardians and you usually have to pick sides. It seems as though that was the solution the developers implemented to give you a sense of control over other characters without directly playing as them. While the move is certainly questionable, it works given the situations you encounter. You do feel like you’re affecting events to a substantial degree.
While the first episode starts with a bang, it ends with a whimper. The fight against Thanos is incredible but the rest of the game involves walking around and talking to your teammates. While it’s not bland by any stretch of the imagination, it’s not as exciting…and given the history of the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, gamers will want more. Despite that, the dialogue reveals some interesting plot details which you would’ve missed otherwise. When people think of the franchise, they think of action and hilarious hijinks. Episode 1 fails to deliver on both to some extent.
A few moments truly stand out in the experience because they aren’t as dry as the rest. The first has to be the entertaining bar scene which comes across as a way to learn more about the characters. Unfortunately, it takes a turn for the worse when Rocket Raccoon gets angry at Star-Lord for no good reason. No matter what you do, he will get angry. In other Telltale games there have been ways to prevent certain situations, Guardians of the Galaxy seems as though it gives you the illusion of freedom when it’s really a very linear venture.
The second scene that stands out are the flashbacks which occur when Star-Lord thinks about his mother. This is where the game shines because the scenes are believable and touching due to the strength of the voice acting. Anyone who has ever witnessed a parent’s illness can relate to them. Had the first episode featured more action and emotional situations like these, it would’ve been a truly spectacular start.
Going back to how constrained the game feels, the dialogue choices are very rigid. Instead of having options on a grey spectrum, they seem very black and white. You either select the choice that you feel goes with who the character is or just completely ignore the story and select other options. You can’t make Star-Lord your own character because many of the dialogue choices stick out like sore thumbs and there’s no way they would ever be a part of the Guardians of the Galaxy universe.
The point-and-click sections are quite enjoyable because you feel like you have added functionality. For example, you can use Star-Lord’s rocket-propelled boots to reach places which other members wouldn’t be able to scout. Some may consider this a gimmick but this type of gameplay is a staple in any Telltale experience. Thankfully, it’s done quite well here so it doesn’t feel frustrating.
The performance of the game on Xbox One is similar to any other Telltale title. The frame rate fluctuates and there are stutters but it’s no where as bad as what it used to be. For some odd reason the title does look a little blurry on the console. The game was tested on a standard Xbox One and not the Xbox One S so there may be issues when it comes to such an old device. However, other games run smoothly so it’s highly unlikely that it’s a fault with the machine. The game just needs more optimization on Xbox One and Telltale’s engine still needs some work.
Guardians of the Galaxy is just like any other Telltale game. You know what to expect at this point. While the story may not be as memorable as let’s say The Walking Dead: A New Frontier, the charm and style of the characters is the highlight of the title and it comes across in copious amounts. Hopefully the story will pick up in later episodes and we’ll see more bombastic sequences. Tangled up in blue is a good start but it’s not the surprise everyone was hoping for.