Early warning – this review contains spoilers!
Having arrived in the Kree temple at the close of the last episode, episode three kicks right off with another flashback to Peter Quill’s past, and sees him trying to be a dutiful son, while his mom’s illness steadily worsens. These visions really serve to humanise Peter, and you’ll witness the heartache he experienced as a child. I think it’s a side of Starlord that hasn’t been overly explored in the films or the comic books, making it a fresh take on the character, and surprisingly touching for someone who readily plays the fool. I’ve even got used to Telltale’s somewhat horse-y take on him.
The next flashback we – and Peter – get a glimpse of is from Gamora’s past, with her training alongside her sister Nebula, while the imposing presence of their father Thanos looks on. Having said that, he’s not as imposing as you might think after we last saw him during episode one’s showdown with the Guardians. This is Thanos “the family man”, by which I mean he’s pitting the sisters against one another, trying to bring out their most malicious sides, despite the fact that at this stage there was still some love between them – though that somewhat depends on how you play out their relationship.
The reveal of the empath Mantis as the resident of the temple’s tomb – and the source of everyone’s flashbacks – may feel like a bit of a letdown after the build up of the previous episodes, and while I don’t think anyone expected it to actually be Peter Quill’s mom it still left a bit of an emotional void. While some comic fans may appreciate Mantis’ appearance, she was deeply underserved in the latest film, and at least from my own point of view, she’s not the most exciting character in the galaxy either way. Still, she keeps this series moving forwards, and is the key to unlocking the Infinity Forge’s full potential, raising once more the question over whether you should use it to bring anyone back to life. It’s yet another argument that splits the team, and Peter has to try and mediate.
We get a nice bit of musical montage later on in the episode, with Desiree Cart Dugas’ “I’m On The Road To Shambala” playing out over the top of some light physical comedy. This is a funnier outing than the last one, with a few genuine laughs and snorts, many of which are provided by Drax and Mantis. I might still not agree with the overly literal – or stupid – drawing of Drax, but here it’s at least put to good use.
Overall this episode is pretty heavy on the QTE’s, as well as plenty of speech options, and it moves along at a fairly rapid pace right up until the final scenes where one of Telltale’s boring puzzles that isn’t a puzzle appears. You’ll know what you have to do the moment you see the temple area you’re placed in, but you have to do things in a heavily prescribed order to be able to advance. The only advantage here is that the area isn’t too big for your meandering between the rest of the cast.
We’re still seeing stuttering in the engine when its performing more graphically intensive tasks, but whether or not that’s going to cause you a problem will be a personal thing. This is still the most impressive outing on the technical front from Telltale, and at least we’re seeing progress, even if it is glacial.
Something that did irk me was in fact a storytelling continuity error, where late on in the episode Gamora berated me for not siding with her or listening to her recently – despite my having taken her side in every argument in the first two episodes. I realise that the freedom Telltale afford the player is ultimately relatively limited, but it really broke my immersion, and made me feel as though my previous choices weren’t much use for anything.
Episode three may be called More Than A Feeling, yet that particular song never appears, and oddly it became a small disappointment throughout my time with it. The storytelling sags a little in the middle, but just when you think you know where everything is heading, a little change of direction – and plenty of space brawling – brings things back around. Bring on episode four.