If one thing is for sure, it’s that Telltale Games have found a successful template, and they show no signs of abandoning it in the near future. Their narrative-driven titles have become a staple of the gaming landscape, and with this, the studio’s thirtieth episodic game, they’ve been handed the keys to the Marvel kingdom for the first time in the shape of the popular Guardians of the Galaxy.
Based on the 2008 version of the Guardians, and the resultant Hollywood movie, Telltale’s game brings together Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax The Destroyer, Rocket Raccoon and Groot as they embark on an intergalactic adventure. It’s a story that takes in various locations and adversaries pulled straight from the comic books, with everyone fighting over a new MacGuffin in the shape of the Cosmic Forge.
This isn’t quite the Guardians you’ve come to know from either the comic or the movies though, sitting somewhere between the two. Besides Groot – how could you possibly make a mess of a character that can only say the same three words? – Rocket Raccoon is now voiced by the somewhat well known Nolan North, and this character is probably the closest to what you’ve seen before. His obsession with making money above all else plays well as the Guardians struggle to decide which side of the law they belong on.
Peter Quill arrives quips intact, though in a ganglier form that doesn’t quite carry the same heft or strength as previous incarnations of the character, and though Gamora still kicks ass, she’s gentler here than we’ve become accustomed to. At least, that’s true if you proceed through the episode in the same manner I did, as my Peter played many encounters for fun, while at other times remembering to consider the feelings of his crewmates. You could of course make him 100% a dick.
The amalgamation of the movie and comic versions of Drax the Destroyer is pretty successful, and it does away with a lot of the stupidity of the Dave Bautista rendition. The movie version has always been the most contentious aspect of the film – for me at least – and it’s nice to see more of a return to the character as a lethal killer than a dumb muscle head solely played for laughs.
Telltale have really gone for a spectacular start to the series, facing you off immediately against the Guardians’ most dangerous adversary, Thanos. This first episode is pretty action heavy, with the Telltale engine’s trademark quick time events framing the set-piece moments perfectly. Those event prompts seem somewhat more forgiving than some of Telltale’s recent titles though, easing off a little on the difficulty in order to ensure you can enjoy the action.
There’s only really one major section in this episode that takes you away from the combat, where Peter searches for a way out of a temple that he’s trapped in. At this point the game does just become another bog-standard point and click adventure, though Quill’s rocket boots add some verticality to the search for points of interest. It does little to distract from the poor animation though, or that it appears as though he’s floating above the floor as he walks.
One of the best things that director James Gunn made use of in the movie was music, and Telltale have carried that through into Episode One. Both It’s A Living Thing by ELO and You Make My Dreams Come True by the South Street Band sound fantastic here, and bring real life to proceedings. I genuinely can’t wait to hear what classics they’ve got lined up for the rest of the series, as both tracks here continue in the vein of mislaid classics from the 70s.
It wouldn’t be a Telltale game without at least a few stutters from the engine, and there were a couple of times where the episode hung in transitions. Comparatively though, this was the most consistent and reliable outing I’ve had with a Telltale game to date, and the continued evolution of the engine is easily apparent.
Telltale have crafted their own story from the Guardians comic-book lore, while keeping the flavour of the hugely successful movie. There are plenty of nods to both, and fans on the lookout for Knowhere, the Kree and other notable characters from the series will likely be more than happy. This is still a Telltale game though, and there simply aren’t any new mechanics to be found here that’ll convince detractors otherwise.
Version tested: PlayStation 4 Pro