Most people were first introduced to the Guardians of the Galaxy in the film from 2014, and many people fell in love with the group of misfits instantly. Eidos Montreal has a lot to live up to in bringing them to a big AAA game, particularly with how disappointed many were in Marvel's Avengers. Not only were they up to the task, Eidos Montreal has taken everything people love about the Guardians, turned it up to 11, and crafted one of the best Marvel games of all time.
Sticking with the same crew as the films - Star-Lord (Peter Quill), Gamora, Drax, Rocket, and Groot - Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy follows the titular group about a year into their formation as mercenaries for hire. They're all still figuring each other out but have decided that maybe sticking it out with one another is a good way to make some cash.
Much like the Guardians themselves, you're brought along for the ride of their story. Beginning with their latest scheme to make money, the Guardians stumble into a series of escalating problems, until, you guessed it, the galaxy is at stake. Because they never really plan ahead except for the next step, choosing instead to react to the insanity that unfolds around them, you'll have a hard time guessing what comes next. Especially since the solution they come up with for their previous problem usually just leads to an even bigger problem. Even if you do have a good idea for the next beat in the story, I can almost guarantee you won't guess how the story got there because of the game's cohesive and distinct Guardians flair.
The mundane of stories we've heard a million times - go kill this beast or rescue this person - become unique and memorable when paired with all the things that make Guardians of the Galaxy great. Whether that is in the ridiculous way the Guardians solve a problem, like blowing something up and just hoping for the best; the crazy places they go, like a city inside the skull of a dead god; or the creative ways they advance the plot, never settling for the expected - unless it's super badass of course.
Nothing better encapsulates this unique flair than the characters themselves. Each has their own bizarre worldview that comes with unique desires and opinions that are a never-ending delight to learn about throughout the game. The absurdity of their problem-solving becomes immediately apparent the more you hear Drax talk with an inability to use or understand metaphor, Rocket's constant scheming, or learn more about Gamora being raised to be an assassin by Thanos, a being hellbent on mass genocide.
The banter between the Guardians is absolutely one of the highlights of the game. The endless back and forth, bickering, and ribbing of one another is a constant source of entertainment. More than just providing laughs, you learn a lot about who each character is, what they believe, their insecurities, their background, and a whole lot more. The writing is incredibly funny and smartly written to reveal more about just what makes these characters tick.
While there is a lot to differentiate the Guardians from one another, they share a lot of commonalities, too. Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy explores themes like loss, friendship, family, and trust throughout the game, and what each of those things means to any one character is both wildly different, yet understandable. The characters have realistic reactions to trauma, both within themselves and when they see a friend experiencing it.
Striking the balance between the serious, humorous, and those solemn moments is where the game's brilliance truly shines. Eidos managed that totally through how well they flesh out each character. You learn and get to love the characters so much that when they have to face a hard truth about themselves or their past, you're already well-invested in their story. Exploring their vulnerabilities and insecurities is immediately relatable, despite the absurdity of each character. Drax may be a world-destroying vengeance machine, but even he struggles with the pain of loss and figuring out how to move on - something everyone learns to deal with at some point.
Somehow, Eidos has managed to take a talking raccoon, a tree that only says three words, a world-destroying warrior, the galaxy's best assassin, and a self-involved doofus and make them some of the most human and realistic characters in a while.
Gameplay is broken up into two halves: combat and traversing a level, following a formula close to something like the Uncharted series. You're going from one group of enemies to another while making your way through visually interesting environments, punctuated by big set pieces full of spectacle.
While the Guardians may be a group of misfits, they are a team, and every part of the gameplay emphasizes that. Some big vines or roots in your way? Gamora can cut through that. Need something big lifted or pushed over? Drax will take care of it. Need a bridge? Look no further than Groot making one out of roots. Then you have Rocket for all your technology needs. Even Star-Lord, the character you control, pitches in with his blasters' ability to change which element they shoot, like fire or wind.
Getting through any one level or environment is not particularly difficult, nor are the simple puzzles you'll run into along the way. However, puzzles often lend themselves to cool character moments, whether that's by providing a surprising solution or just letting a character be themselves in the moment - beneficial or not.
The teamwork of course carries over to combat. You control Star-Lord only, directing the other Guardians to use one of their four available abilities. Star-Lord has his own abilities as well, and the most effective approach to combat is combining the Guardians' abilities together to take out the enemy. On top of those abilities, there are various things in the environment the Guardians can use to add to the carnage, like throwing huge boulders with Drax or blowing up various electronics with Rocket. All this adds up to frantic chaos with bodies flying, explosions everywhere, and a constant need to move around so you're never just sitting around doing nothing.
The standard combat encounter will you see running around as Star-Lord, using your jet boots to dodge enemies or gain some height to see the battlefield. Star-Lord has his trusty blasters, but don't expect a third person shooter here - you just lock on and shoot. Some enemies have shields that need broken up using the different elemental effects on Star-Lord's blasters, so swapping between those, using the Guardians' abilities, and just avoiding all the mayhem coming your way is more than enough to keep you busy.
It is certainly fun to set up combos of abilities and leave nothing but rubble in your wake, but the combat in Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy becomes repetitive in the latter part of the game. By the time you've got the Guardians' various abilities understood and can use them on the fly without thinking, there's not much more to learn or spice it up. Towards the end, I was just looking forward to getting to the next bit of story, instead of engaging in the combat in front of me.
Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy Review | Final Thoughts
Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy is wildly entertaining, hilarious, full of heart, and an absolute blast from beginning to end. It's full of character moments that let them shine with heroic moments, genuinely funny moments, and a lot of emotionally mature storytelling. The game does everything people loved about the 2014 Guardians of the Galaxy film, improves upon it, and adds even more on top. If you weren't in love with the Guardians already, you will be after you play this game.
TechRaptor's Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy review was conducted on PlayStation 5 with a copy provided by the publisher. It is also available on PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC, and Nintendo Switch.
- Smart, funny writing with a lot of heart
- Visually stunning
- Wildly entertaining from beginning to end
- Fully realized characters with a lot of depth
- Combat doesn't quite have the staying power