Telltale's continued objective of making a game with every single IP available is going strong, and their latest grab is Guardians of the Galaxy. This is one IP that I always thought would be the perfect fit for Telltale, especially after the crazy success of Tales From the Borderlands. The first episode, Tangled Up in Blue, is now available to show a new take on the Guardians. Is the galaxy going to be saved, or are we doomed?
If you've never been exposed to the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise before, the basic premise is this: five misfits—criminals and general outcasts—band together to try and save the galaxy with mixed results. Among their ranks are the intergalactic police officer Star-Lord, former assassin Gamora, revenge-obsessed warrior Drex, crazed weapons inventor Rocket and his pet living tree Groot. One of their main enemies is Thanos, a super-powered mutant who worships Death and who has stolen a mysterious ancient relic. So the Guardians gather their things, prepare themselves for the fight of their lives, and set off to meet Thanos in combat and save everyone.
They succeed. Twenty minutes into the game Thanos is dead and the Guardians are now left confused. They assembled this team that was sort of tentatively held together by everyone's hate for Thanos and now that he's dead they're not quite sure what to do next. Binge drinking, partying, and eating can't really fill the void left behind by fulfilling their life's purpose, and they're left just sorta drifting. This is really what the game is about, five heroes who don't really care for each other much trying to find an excuse to not just pack up their things and leave or kill each other. At least, for the middle segment of the episode that's what it is. This is the most interesting part of Tangled Up in Blue, and where it shines brightest.
Unfortunately, it doesn't keep its focus on internal conflict. Eventually, a new villain with an agenda of her own shows up, and the focus turns to that. Instead of working with its strongest aspect Tangled Up in Blue rushes to try and get the status quo back. While this could be interesting, and the snippets I got to see of the new villain now could lead to more interesting encounters down the line, it does give the impression that Telltale got scared from straying too far from the currently established material. After Batman: The Telltale Series did this so well, it's a bit of a shame to see it get wasted.
You'll be playing as Star-Lord for all the conversations and exploration segments of the game. Like in most Telltale games you'll have to make important dialogue choices that will affect how the characters feel about you and what actions they're willing to take. Do you want to reassure Drex that he took his revenge on Thanos, even though Star-Lord was the one who actually killed him? Or should you side with Rocket and agree that Drex didn't really do the hard work that he should have? Would it be better to give Thanos' corps to The Collector for a ton of extra money? Maybe the Nova Corps' connections would be a better advantage? It's a good enough series of choices, but none of them really pan out in this episode so you'll be waiting for future episodes to see how the Guardian's relationship will survive this.
In Batman: The Telltale Series I finally got the sense that Telltale was starting to get a little gamier with their exploration thanks to the logic puzzles provided by the investigation segments. Unfortunately, Guardians of the Galaxy only gets part way there. An early section allows you to use Star-Lord's jetboots to explore multiple levels in a large room, and he has a device that lets him see past events in the room. You're supposed to use this to identify the commander and get an ID card from his body, but you can do that just as easily by checking all the bodies since there's no penalty for failure and it's not really a puzzle. Other than that there are your standard quick time event fights that look good but are still just a series of quick time events in the end.
If there's one thing that the recent Guardians of the Galaxy movie has been noted for, it's the soundtrack. Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series also tries a similar aesthetic with an emphasis on 70s music. The problem? There are only three songs. Electric Light Orchestra's Livin' Thing may be a fantastic song and probably one of the best picks they could have gone with for a theme song, but you can only reuse it so many times before it feels repetitive. Hall and Oates' I Can't Go for That (No Can Do) and The Buzzcock's Why Can't I Touch It aren't heard as much at least, but I found myself mostly hoping the soundtrack would grow larger.
By the end of Tangled Up in Blue, I found myself a little disappointed by Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series. It's still too early to call if it's going to hit the lows that Game of Thrones did, but if it keeps this up it's never going to hit the highs of Tales From the Borderlands that I was hoping it would get to. I really do still hold that this is one of the best IPs for Telltale to get their hands on, but I'm not sure why they're not making proper use of it. Hopefully, future episodes will only go up from here.
Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series - Episode 1: Tangled Up in Blue was reviewed on PlayStation 4 using a copy provided by the developer. The game is also available on PC, Xbox One, iOS, and Android.
Maybe future episodes will improve on this. Unfortunately Tangled Up in Blue starts Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series off on an unconvincing note. Its best plot ideas are ditched before they get going, the soundtrack is good but repetitive, and it fails to improve on the formula in the way recent Telltale games have been doing.(Review Policy)
- Story Has Some Interesting Notes
- Soundtrack Has Good Songs
- Story Ultimately Squanders Best Ideas
- Soundtrack Gets Repetitive
- Doesn't Improve on Formula Like Last Few Telltale Games