This fifth and final Guardians episode begins with a well put together catch-up of audio clips that play out as the camera slowly pans through an empty Milano. Depending on how you’ve played the previous episodes, some of it may not make for the most comfortable listening.
Note that certain season finale spoilers lie beyond this point.
As hinted at last time out, you’re approached by Bel-Dinn, Hala’s son who she brought back to life with the Eternity Forge. His reason for committing treason against the Kree leadership stems from his desire to enlist your help in taking his mother down, mainly thanks to her genocidal tendencies, though obviously there could be some self interest in his request as they would need a new leader were she to be removed…
His plan is to stage his own kidnap, which in turn will enrage Hala, and cause her to make mistakes. In the history of plans, it doesn’t rate as the smartest, or even the second or third smartest, but only Rocket seems to be wary of him. You’re able to agree to his terms, or just to take him hostage anyway and get on with it, but you’re set on your path to the finale.
To get there though you’re going to need the rest of the Guardians, and it’s likely that at the end of episode four you were barely able to hang onto the classification of being a “team”. However, Rocket is soon able to coax Groot and Mantis back, and you’re treated to Groot’s memory of how the gang got together.
Beyond Peter Quill’s awful moustache, it’s a shame that this section isn’t a bit funnier, especially when much of the opening of this episode is quite thoughtful, but you see them bust out of their prison cell – all thanks to Groot – and head off on their way. It seems to convince Mantis that they all belong together, but all it really does is show once again that Groot is the real star of this show.
You’re then tasked with pulling everyone else back together for the big showdown, and while Drax is on surprisingly good form, Gamora continues to wallow in her self-loathing, which by this point is starting to wear a bit thin. Telltale’s take on the green-skinned assassin hasn’t really hit the mark for me at various points, and it feels overall as though they’ve missed out on the more interesting aspects of her character.
That said, there’s quite a lot of slush through much of the episode, and reuniting the team brings all of the good feels you could hope for. It perhaps all seems a little easy, a little too well tied up before you go to face off against Hala, but after the drama of previous episodes it’s a welcome change of pace.
The biggest problem I had with the final episode was simply that the Eternity Forge and your conflict with Hala all felt fairly perfunctory by this point. I’ve loved finding out about each of the Guardians, and the excellent voice work has really made them come alive, but the overarching story doesn’t quite hold together. Your final choices likely still have a bittersweet feeling to them, but it’s brushed over as the episode comes to a close. When the characterisation and storytelling have been so good at various points before, perhaps it doesn’t matter so much, and much like the second Guardians movie the most enjoyable thing about it is just spending time with these characters. It just seems like a shame that it peters out.
Despite my early reservations, Drax’ comedic timing has been perfect, and he’s pulled in the majority of real laughs, while Quill, Rocket, Mantis and Groot have each had their moment to lighten the mood. It remains the dour characterisation of Gamorra that grounds things a bit, but taken as a whole they’ve nailed the tone of the team’s interactions and drive.
The season then is indicative of Telltale’s previous efforts, with some fantastic characterisation and storytelling tied to simplistic puzzles and by the numbers exploration, punctuated by QTE combat. The production values are amongst Telltale’s best work, with the art-style working particularly well for the Guardians, while the voice acting and music have been spot on from beginning to end.
Despite the pacing of the first couple of episodes being somewhat uneven, this finale doesn’t put too much in the way of the narrative at all, keeping things flowing nicely. The slower exploration sections we’ve seen during the season reopen the question of just how stale the Telltale formula is becoming, and in a lot of ways I wonder if I’d just enjoy a loosely interactive story that more or less just told itself. Mind you, if the storytelling and licenses remain as compelling, I think we’ll be putting up with it for a few years yet.
Episode Five brings the season to a positive close, and while we all like a happy ending, it does perhaps paper over a few of the more negative choices you’ve likely made. The character-driven aspects of the series have been brilliant, as has learning more about each of the Guardians’ pasts, but it’s still been foisted by Telltale’s creaky engine and often dull interactivity. I’d still be excited for another season, or indeed for another Marvel property to be given the same treatment, but we need some real changes made to how you physically take part in the story to keep people coming back for more.
Season Score: 7/10
Version Tested: PS4 Pro