Title: Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series – Episode 4: Who Needs You
Available On: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Android, iOS
Where To Buy: Steam
For our review of Episode 1: Tangled Up In Blue, click here.
For our review of Episode 2: Under Pressure, click here.
For our review of Episode 3: More Than A Feeling, click here.
Telltale’s Guardians of the Galaxy is an odd beast. The titular group lacks the effortless charisma and chemistry that their cinematic universe counterparts have, but the writing is snappy and funny in the right places, the stakes feel high, and the action scenes are appropriately ridiculous. Who Needs You continues the trends that we’ve seen in previous episodes, both positive and negative.
The things that set the best Telltale games apart from the mediocre ones are whether or not they can trick you into believing your choices are truly making a difference in the story. Realistically, Telltale is not going to be able to write completely different stories depending on which actions you take, but the illusion of impactful decisions keeps players invested and helps deflect the “But they aren’t really games!” argument that some make of this style of game.
It is here that Guardians of the Galaxy suffers the most. The story seems like it is going to turn out the way it is, regardless of how you act in those “big decision” moments. Characters lash out irrationally, pinballing from sad to angry to happy as the story dictates they should instead have, based on the choices you make. It’s unfortunate, because the story and characters in Guardians of the Galaxy, especially in this oddball fourth episode, are quite good.
Every episode of Guardians of the Galaxy has shone the spotlight on one specific character, fleshing out their past and showing why they belong in this bizarre adventuring group. We saw the animal research facility that imprisoned Rocket and Thanos’ manipulation of Nebula and Gamora. In the fourth episode, the focus turns to Drax.
I really wish they would have spent a bit more time in Drax’s memory. It was sweet and heartbreaking, but a bit on the short side. Seeing the big green dummy interact with his daughter is a great scene and helps set up some of the big decisions later in the episode. Plus Drax has consistently remained the funniest part of the game, and any time he is featured is a win for the player.
The humor in the fourth episode continues to improve, as it seemed stilted and like the timing was off early on. A few great visual gags with Groot make for some laugh out loud moments, and a few callbacks to earlier episodes make for some winks to the player.
The story of episode four is an interesting one, as it picks up right where episode three left off. However, it quickly veers away from any Hala and Eternity Forge shenanigans and instead serves somewhat as a bottle episode. Most of the conflict this time around comes from within the guardians themselves, in an obvious attempt to set up some redemption and revitalizing friendship in the upcoming final episode.
Besides railroading the player a bit with the story, Who Needs You‘s biggest issue is some uneven pacing with how the story is presented. The action sequences in Guardians of the Galaxy have frequently been enjoyable, and another big fight scene accompanied by music is a standout scene in episode four. However, a lengthy environmental puzzle involving your ship engines sucks the energy out of the room, and seems stuck in there only to pad out the episode’s length. And some of the “big decisions” seem like obvious fakeouts, unless Disney and Marvel gave Telltale WAY more license to mess with the team than I would guess they did.
It sounds like a lot of negative comments, but I am still enjoying Telltale’s take on the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise. The story, writing, and voice acting are still all pretty darn solid, and Telltale’s yarns are almost always entertaining. It will be interesting to see where the fifth and final episode takes us, and how some of these threads will get tied together, but it is good to see that Telltale can tell a funny, engaging story and still tug on the old heartstrings a bit.
Verdict: Who Needs You is a bit uneven and oddly paced. The voice acting and storytelling are still pretty solid, but consequences and big choices seem a bit railroaded and less like the player is crafting their own unique story. There are some touching moments (especially involving Drax), some funny moments, and a great action sequence. However, the weird pacing and lack of impactful decision making somewhat hamstrings Who Needs You.
- Drax gets the spotlight
- Humor is starting to land more often
- Good voice acting and use of music
- Uneven pacing
- Annoying puzzle section
- Choices don't feel like they are affecting the story.