Guardians of the Galaxy hype has reached a fever pitch over the last few weeks. The second movie is due out very soon so this mismatched gang of misfits have never been more popular. Telltale makes a brave choice then by choosing to tell an original story separate from the movie universe. This risk mostly pays off due to great voice acting and a focus on more intimate moments which ultimately gives these characters a new layer of depth.
The first episode, Tangled up in Blue opens with the team receiving a distress call from the Nova Corps, Thanos is here and he’s out for blood. The guardians are immediately thrown into battle against the purple menace which gets the series moving in a great direction from the outset. Promotional materials and trailers may have sold the game’s story as a straightforward affair. Bad guy is after a relic, good guys must stop him, right? Wrong. Telltale does something very bold very early on in the episode which shatters all of the preconceived notions of what the story will entail. This left turn is extremely refreshing to see as it throws the player straight into unknown territory. The story continues to stand out for its originality and does a great job of setting up the series.
The chemistry between the Guardians is great, mostly due to the voice-acting which is excellent throughout. I was concerned that it would be jarring to see different versions of the characters after getting so used to the MCU iterations but quickly warmed to them.
The usual Telltale choices are at play here but feel a little forced this time around. The group dynamic is solidified from the outset so choices feel obvious. Why for example would I choose to make Drax feel bad when the team are clearly such great friends? There are also moments where tensions arise between the Guardians. Generally these moments feel forced with character motivations questionable at best. There are some genuinely funny moments here too but often the timing feels a little off, hopefully the series can find its comedic stride as it continues on.
Of course this wouldn’t be a legitimate review of a Telltale game without the mention of technical issues. To be honest I’m getting a little bored having to berate these games for the same reasons time and time again. Once again I experienced significant frame rate drops, sometimes enough to ruin a joke or a choice I’d made. Audio was also an issue as dialogue would sometimes go fuzzy, as if a speaker had blown somewhere. Transitions between scenes was also pretty janky with noticeable dips in frame rate.
The soundtrack is a real strong point, giving the game a dose of 70’s style which makes it instantly very Guardians-y. Telltale have always been great at the quieter moments in their games and Guardians is no exception. It’s here that the game really shows that it has something different to offer than the movies. Intimate character exchanges and quiet conversations flesh out the characters wonderfully showing a new side to characters we’re already familiar with.
The weakest part of the Telltale games has always been the exploration sections. Thankfully they are brief enough here to ensure they don’t slow the pace of the story. The addition of Quill’s jet boots also spices them up a bit too, which helps.
The highlight of episode one is certainly its action sequences. Simple quick-time events are elevated by excellent choreography and tactile interaction. The first fight of the game really shines in the way it lets the player control each of the Guardians in succession giving the impression of a team which is not to be trifled with.
Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series Episode One starts the series out on strong footing. A bold choice early on immediately grabs the players’ attention and great pacing ensures it throughout. Stellar voice acting and a commitment to building the group dynamic of the team really portray a sense of camaraderie. It’s unfortunate then that the game is held back by technical issues even if they do seem to be par for the course at this point. Episode One definitely left me wanting more so as an introduction to the series has clearly succeeded.
Stay tuned to hear my thoughts on how the series plays out when the rest is released throughout the year.