In my original review of the first episode of Telltale’s Guardians of the Galaxy series, I called out the game for feeling like it was “stuck somewhere between trying to be like the movie and trying to be its own thing.” Now that the five-episode season has come to end, the game is a lot closer to having its own identity and ideas, but it still wears its obvious influences on its sleeve. The various parts that set it apart from the movies end being being a mixed bag of both good and bad in the long run.
Over the course of the season, you follow Peter Quill and the rest of the Guardians as they try to figure out what to do with the Eternity Forge, a device rumored to bring people back from the dead. The characters you encounter along the way are all going to be familiar to anyone who has seen the two Guardians movies. The main squad is the same: Gamora, Drax, Rocket and Groot. You encounter Yondu, the Collector, Nebula and even Mantis. From a movie perspective the only real fresh face amongst the story is Hala the Accuser, the antagonist. She is a Kree who leads a large force in search of the Forge, which she hopes to use to bring Kree dominance over the galaxy as well as a secret, more personal reason.
The story is solid throughout the five-episode arc but nothing that significantly stands out apart from other Telltale games. There is, naturally, many action scenes throughout but this is still a Telltale game, so you will spend a large amount of time talking with your fellow Guardians, with the majority of that being spent on dealing with conflict amongst the ranks, usually between Rocket and Gamora. As Peter Quill you play a combination of mediator and babysitter, deciding on everything from who to take on a dangerous mission to who gets to keep what when you need to lighten weight on the space ship.
The focus on Quill as the protagonist is obvious and natural but at times it leads to losing the feeling of being a part of an actual team – something the Guardians of the Galaxy are supposed to be. This gets to the point where it affects the actual storytelling. At one point a member of the Guardians decides to sacrifice themselves to save the rest of the team, in which Quill can decide to either help or attempt to stop. After choosing to help, the rest of the team yell and get angry with Quill for the result of his actions, none of which feels genuine or logical. What I assume was meant to be a heartfelt moment ends up being annoying and unbelievable.
Some story problems aside, Telltale does nail the actual Guardians themselves. With longer time to spend with these characters, and Mantis’ ability to read minds, we get much more actual information about the back story of the Guardians. We get to see Gamora training with Nebula under Thanos. We get to see the facility where Rocket was experimented on. We get to see Drax interacting with his daughter on his home planet. These parts are all enjoyable and it is great to be able to see a different side of the Guardians. Unfortunately, Groot’s flashback is to the forming of the Guardians instead of anything showing his origin or other Groot, which would have been cool to see.
The other aspects that Telltale get perfect are action scenes and the music, which in this series almost always go hand in hand. The series is full of great 70’s and 80’s music and almost every action scene is set perfectly to these tunes. These action scenes, while not quite as cool or inventive some of the amazing things done in Tales from the Borderlands, still stand as some of the highlights of the series and a lot of the time it is because of being paired with great music. The scenes also do a great job incorporating all the Guardians and their unique abilities, actually communicating the idea of a team, something the story sometimes struggles to deliver.
Telltale’s Guardians of the Galaxy is an entertaining addition to the Telltale library but doesn’t rise to anything more than that. There are definitely memorable parts but also sequences that just plain don’t work. The game follows Telltale’s gameplay style of QTE-based action scenes, which seem to only get better and better over the years. Unfortunately, the choice-based storytelling focuses on Peter Quill, leaving out the other members of the team and leads to parts where you are making decisions that really seem like others should be able to make for themselves. The game shines, though, when it goes into flashbacks, either in the memories of child Peter and his sick mom or learning what motivates the other Guardians. Guardians of the Galaxy is an enjoyable journey, especially if you are a fan of movies as I am.
Final Score: 7.0 out of 10
A review copy of Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series was provided to Pixel Related for review.