The last time I said "this is the perfect IP for Telltale and one that I can't wait to see what they do with" it was with Game of Thrones. That has rather infamously been considered one of Telltale's weakest offerings. Despite this, I rolled that sentence out again when I first heard word of Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series, figuring this time I'd see something worth seeing. So does this series manage to be a success, or is there little worth redeeming here?
Guardians of the Galaxy centers around a superhero group known as, well... the Guardians of the Galaxy. It consists of five main members: former outlaw Star-Lord, former assassin Gamora, very angry warrior Drax, mechanic and anthropomorphic raccoon Rocket, and their pet living tree Groot. The game opens up with the Guardians once again taking on Thanos after he finds the Eternity Forge, an artifact that he believes will let him rule the world. They dispatch of the Mad Titan, but then have to wrestle with figuring out what comes after the job is done.
This starts off an interesting premise for the story: what does a superhero group do when they've accomplished their goals? These moments are when Guardians of the Galaxy is at its best, exploring the dynamics of a group whose members actively hate each other and have no external force to tie them together. Unfortunately, this seemed like it would be too large of a break from the movie's version of the Guardians and the game quickly tosses in a new villain in the form of Hala the Accuser. Hala quickly proves to be an uninteresting villain, one whose motivations never really got me to care and who only seems to exist to keep the more interesting plot from poking its way through.
You'll spend most of the game playing as Star-Lord, but starting with the second episode, you'll regularly get to learn about another Guardian's past in a flashback sequence. The only one of these that really managed to be worth my time featured Rocket. Gamora's backstory is almost ripped from the movie word for word, Drax featured for too short of a time to really make a connection, and we never got a chance to delve into Groot's history. It's really disappointing that this was botched so badly, and I failed to care about any of the characters by the end of the game.
I actually found that kind of weird, since Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series tries its absolute best to follow the movie version of the Guardians of the Galaxy as closely as possible. I really enjoy the movie and the characters in them, so I should enjoy the ones here. Instead, I was just bored of them, as they're not done nearly as well despite all their attempts to copy. It's especially upsetting when you look at Telltale's other currently running comic based game Batman: The Enemy Within. Whereas that series is not afraid to take risks with its unique version of iconic characters and stories, Guardians of the Galaxy is too afraid to break away from the familiar. You've seen everyone here before and you've seen these stories before, just now you get dialogue choices.
The story does have one thing going for it, and that's its sense of humor. I burst out into laughter throughout my playthrough because of how funny the story got. Characters make clever jokes, there are some funny visual gags, and at one point Star-Lord boasts an absolutely absurd mustache. It's not quite enough to save the plot, but at the very least I could appreciate that Telltale seems to have kept its sense of humor from Tales From the Borderlands.
When it comes to gameplay, you have your usual Telltale fair here. There are quite a few quick time reaction scenes where you need to press the correct button in time to fight enemies. Much like how I felt about some of Telltale's recent games, I was really impressed with the fights themselves. There's a great eye for choreography, with both characters doing impressive moves and the camera moving around in interesting ways to keep the fights centered.
While the fight scenes may have been a highlight, the few puzzles are less so. Here you'll be able to make use of Star-Lord's jet boots to move around environments vertically. He also has a device that lets him see events that happened in the past. In theory, you should be combining these two to solve simple puzzles. In practice, you basically just have to interact with one or two objects. It's a shame to see these mechanics wasted, especially after Batman: The Telltale Series used its investigation scenes in such interesting ways.
It isn't Guardians if someone doesn't play a lot of licensed music. You'll be hearing a variety of songs during the team's adventures, but you'll also hear a couple of songs repeated to an almost absurd level. The licensed music is at its best when using a song once and never again. The fight scene set to Spark's This Town Ain't Big Enough For the Both of Us and the traveling montage with Three Dog Night's Shambala are both awesome, and the game doesn't drive these songs into the ground. On the other hand, two songs stuck out as overused. The Buzzcock's Why Can't I Touch It and Electric Light Orchestra's Livin' Thing are both played so much that the latter song is actually retroactively made into a plot point about halfway through the game. By the end, I was sick of both of them.
While I was originally very excited to see Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series, I ultimately found myself disappointed by the series. In a time where I can watch Telltale put interesting spins on established characters and plot lines related to Batman, it just baffles me that they chose to play Guardians of the Galaxy so safe. Not everything here is bad, there are some great fight scenes and hilarious moments, but this is a huge misstep for Telltale overall.
Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series was reviewed on PlayStation 4. The first episode was provided by the developer while the other four were purchased by the reviewer. The game is also available on PC via Steam and GOG (Affiliate link), Xbox One, iOS, and Android devices.
Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series is a pretty large misstep for the developer despite a few good moments.(Review Policy)
- Interesting Premise
- Sense of Humor
- Great Fight Scenes
- Some Good Songs on Soundtrack
- Plot Ultimately Doesn't Hold Attention
- Just Reuses Guardian Stories You've Already Seen
- Boring Puzzles
- Overuses Some Songs