Available On: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Android, iOS
Where To Buy: Steam
“Bam! Pow!” Marvel and “Heavy dialogue choices” Telltale Games may seem like an odd pairing at first glance, but Guardians of the Galaxy is some great source material to draw from. It seemed like a could be somewhat similar to Tales from the Borderlands (which I still feel is the best game in the current Telltale formula): a group of oddball, quirky characters having to overcome their differences and learn to work together. The first episode, Tangled Up In Blue, does a good job establishing Telltale’s version of the characters and set up an interesting premise for the rest of the series. However, Tangled Up In Blue does not do much to distinguish itself from the familiar formula Telltale has stuck with since The Walking Dead.
Well, on thing helps it stand out: the inclusion of ELO’s Livin’ Thing, which plays multiple times throughout the episode. Feel free to leave this on in the background as you continue reading:
I also heard some Hall & Oates in there at one point. Telltale nailed that aspect of the game.
By now, the Telltale formula is pretty straightforward. Make dialogue choices. Participate in quick time action scenes. Occasionally make a “big decision” that will affect story elements across future episodes. Occasionally solve rudimentary puzzles (although they have moved away from that in most of their recent efforts). Guardians of the Galaxy checks all those boxes. This version is also not tied into the continuity of the existing comics or film, so it should continue to be surprising throughout as we see familiar characters in a new light.
The biggest issue I had with the first episode of Guardians of the Galaxy is that it seems a bit on rails. There is only one real “big decision” moment that seems like it will have an impact on later episodes. Your dialogue choices are rarely choices – you can choose from different options, but they are generally just “Which smart-ass comment should I have Star-Lord make?” And some of the other characters’ reactions to your dialogue choices seem contrived and unnatural in order to make the plot work.
It’s unfortunate because Guardians of the Galaxy has a lot of good going for it as well. In addition to the good music, the voice acting is the typical excellent effort you expect from a dialogue-driven Telltale game, and it is probably the best looking Telltale game released yet (although there is something bizarre about the Peter Quill character model that I can’t quite put my finger on). Some of the new mechanics, like Star-Lord’s jet boots and the communication device that allows for character banter as you explore the environments, could really help this game shine.
There is also a pretty fun fight scene early on in the game that puts the player in control of all five of the guardians, trading blows and combining powers to cool cinematic effect. Guardians of the Galaxy took its cinematic fight scene cues from their Batman series and makes for some interesting fight choreography. It is fun seeing the way all the different characters work together and utilize their unique strengths to form a formidable fighting force.
In addition to dialogue choices not feeling terribly impactful, my other issue with Guardians of the Galaxy was that it just wasn’t that funny (and a few of the best bits were in the trailer). The dialogue wasn’t quite snappy enough, evidenced between what are supposed to be sharp exchanges between Star-Lord, Rocket, and Gamora. They tend to bog a bit, as other characters don’t quite rapid fire their dialogue like they need to in order to make scenes feel more natural. Not all the dialogue is this way, but more than I am used to in a Telltale game. Drax the Destroyer and his literal interpretation of things tend to steal the show.
Hopefully, the issues are just about of first episode jitters. Telltale games tend to be hit (Tales From the Borderlands, The Wolf Among Us) or miss (Batman, Game of Thrones) with their first episodes, but they almost always right the ship and deliver a great story by the end. There is a lot of good setup in Guardians of the Galaxy – a mysterious artifact, a great fight scene, a fascinating villain, and a lot of mystery about what direction it could be headed in. I have faith that the little hiccups of Tangled Up In Blue will get ironed out in no time. With the second movie coming out in just a couple weeks, hopefully, Telltale’s version of Guardians of the Galaxy can keep pace with the high expectations.
- Gameplay: Standard Telltale formula. Make dialogue choices, participate in quick, button press action scenes, and explore your environments.
- Graphics: Probably the best a Telltale game has ever looked. Peter Quill looks weird though. Maybe because I’m used to Chris Pratt.
- Sound: Great voice acting and music, but some of the dialogue seems a bit forced and unnatural.
- Presentation: Very similar in tone and flavor to the cinematic versions of these characters.
- Good set pieces
- Drax is pretty darn funny
- Graphics are the best I've seen from Telltale
- Nothing terribly new or original
- Some of the dialogue seems forced or a step behind
- Peter Quill character model is odd