Telltale’s Guardians of the Galaxy: Tangled up in Blue (Playstation 4 Review)
In Disney-Marvel’s continuing dominance of the cinema world in nerd culture, Telltale Games have taken the opportunity to galvanise on the inevitable “Guardians” fever for the upcoming release of the Volume 2 movie with their own game featuring the intergalactic heroes. This is Telltale Games’ second superhero-themed game, with their own spin on Batman being just about good enough for me to indulge TTG’s Guardians, in the hopes of it being an improvement on the former. Thankfully, in almost all aspects, this is pretty much the case.
If you are familiar with any of the Telltale games, you should notice right off the bat that Guardians has gotten a considerable (and long overdue) graphical upgrade from its predecessors. The cel-shaded style is still somewhat present, but is mixed in with this semi-cartoony character design, not unlike of what you would see in a 3D Disney Movie. Most of the main characters look great, particularly Drax and Groot, but minor characters not so much, and some of the backgrounds are lacking in that final bit of polish. Some of the clunky animations from older TTG titles are still present as well, be it the sometimes off-looking walking or the occasional unnatural facial expression.
At the core of the gameplay, we are in control of Peter Quill a.k.a Star-Lord in Episode 1. Whether we get to play as the other Guardians in future episodes is still not confirmed, as for the moment they are only “playable” in quick-time events. As Quill, you are very much the glue that holds the team together with an array of dialogue trees, and most of the dialogue is giving you the option of being a righteous stick-in-the-mud, a smarmy douchebag or… being Peter Quill, who for all his jesting and occasional weaselling, is compassionate about his teammates and doing the right thing when the stakes are high. This is pretty much the problem with having Quill as your protagonist if you are familiar with the Guardians’ lore; not being a blank slate or even having the different interpretations that Batman has means that you may find yourself making decisions based on Quill’s moral code and typical behaviour rather than your own.
Where Guardians does fare much better than Batman though is the interacting with your teammates. You’ll be put into more morally ambiguous situations when it comes to taking sides in the arguments with one of your teammates, or when they’re arguing with each other. You’ll probably find yourself on the bad side of one your teammates, but you also have the opportunity to make amends in other situations. You’ll also get the opportunity to decide which teammate to bring with you in a particular scenario, which is similar to situations in Batman whether you would go as Bruce Wayne or in costume, but you also have the emotional implications and not just the tactical reasoning for making your decision, as well there just being a more interesting contrast on which decision you make.
There are few moments where you control Star-Lord freely, who feels a little less on-the-rails than Batman did with the ability to use his hover-boots in real time in some environments. The quick-time events are noticeably more immersive as well, with small details such as Quill’s pistols being mapped to the rear trigger buttons. Most of the voice acting is pretty commendable, and is helped by the great banter between the Guardians themselves, although Nolan North’s legendary Deadpool voice-over carries over a bit too much at times into his interpretation of Rocket. I appreciate TTG also making the investment to add some actual 70’s and 80’s chart hits to the soundtrack; there aren’t any songs as big as “Hooked On A Feeling” or “The Chain”, but it still sounds very much like a Star-Lord mixtape.
The story itself is going down an interesting enough path, with the macguffin of the main plot being the Eternity Forge, adding some interesting flashback sequences. This, and seeing the all-over improvement that Guardians has made over Batman, shows that TTG seem serious about making good superhero story games. It remains to be seen if this quality can be kept up in later episodes, particularly if we are only playing as Quill throughout them, but TTG have done enough to warrant me purchasing another episode at the very least.