- Developed and Published: Telltale Games
- Released on 4/18/2017
- Copy Purchased- PC
- Written by: Jacob Johnson
Hooked on… some kind of feeling?
With most Telltale series such as Batman or The Wolf Among Us, the games start off on an incredibly stellar first note. In Guardians of the Galaxy, this is exemplified right from the very first screen, featuring the titular guardians jamming out to licensed 70’s Electric Lights Orchestra, reaching for an ancient artifact, rather emblematic of the Guardians and their usual plights.
Does the rest of the first episode live up to this tremendously lighthearted and entertaining opening?
The answer is a categorical “eh”.
It makes sense to market and play the game around these 70’s and 80’s pop songs, as if to instill a sense of nostalgic joy in the audience, just like the film series. However, this is done almost cynically in order to compensate for the lack of engaging character designs that make the Guardians distinct. Peter Quill looks like Handsome Jack of Borderlands fame, Gamora looks almost exactly the same to her film counterpart aside from the yellow markings on her eyes, Rocket DEFINITELY has the exact same character design, and both Groot and Drax appear to have been lifted straight from their Disney Infinity toy-to-life figurines.
The lack of thick outlines for the characters in the style of the comic books definitely holds the game’s visuals back as well, making this film-to-video game face lift look like a CG-animated cartoon from the same studio that animated Beware the Batman. Speaking of Batman and his own Telltale series, the animations’ trademark stiffness have also been brought forward, allowing for a “malfunctioning wax museum” type of look to gain foothold in the viewers’ mind. The graphics, while not necessarily impressive, are among Telltale’s finest- even surpassing the recently-released The Walking Dead: A New Frontier.
One might be thankful that Telltale has spared its audience yet another origin story, since we know these characters to their immense pop culture influence in recent years (especially on Suicide Squad), but it doesn’t necessarily mean the story will be gripping and engaging. Surprisingly, even though Thanos is revealed fairly early-on, the stakes of the story aren’t anything we haven’t seen before- even from Marvel’s cinematic universe, which this story clearly takes vast amounts of influence from. Like, a lot. Like a ton of influence.
The heroes start out after a successful adventure, being launched into a conflict revolving around the device they were reaching for in the main menu. Thanos is involved (and no, for all you geeks out there, it isn’t an Infinity Stone, but essentially serves the same purpose). Does this sound familiar to the plot structure of Avengers: Age of Ultron or Iron Man 3? It sure sounds similar to those Marvel stories to me!
Luckily, the choices in dialogue do feel as though you’re establishing your own iteration of Quill, much like Batman or Clementine. There are no real set rules for your personal Star-Lord, but if you feel like making it the most film-accurate retread of the character, you’re more than welcome to do so- at the cost of your interest.
For the hardcore Guardians of the Galaxy megafans- this isn’t going to give you a proper nerd experience either. Beyond a cool appearance of the Universal Church of Truth, or everybody’s favorite George Lucas puppet, Howard the Duck, there’s really no depth to this ever-expansive universe beyond our characters and their plights.
The dialogue, as you’d expect, is snappy and lighthearted, much like the series has previously been known to invoke. Quill and Gamora aren’t treated as if they’re ready to bang off-screen at any given moment, they’re treated more as brother and sister- which isn’t a bad addition, given the overabundance of female characters treated ONLY as sexual partners for the given protagonist. Rocket still takes the cake, voiced by Nolan North, delivering witty zingers and powerful retorts that may or may not have finally killed off Don Rickles.
This is only one-fifth of the series to come, and it’s likely to pick up in terms of story soon enough, but this is not a fitting start to the Guardians’ latest adventure. It may have quippy dialogue, but everything feels borrowed from Telltale’s other franchises, particularly Batman. While there is potential in this episodic franchise to come, it all feels like the telltale signs of a Telltale game.