Fans of Guardians of the Galaxy are going to get a whole lot of what they love with Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series. Whether it’s the movie or the comic books, there’s an endearing amount of the cosmic Marvel universe to explore and for Telltale’s first foray into the Marvel camp, it’s one that they have few problems mining for great moments. Though it occasionally veers a bit too much into the snarky territory, there are plenty of heartfelt moments and genuine tensions that prove that a Telltale game is a perfect conduit for the ragtag group of misfits.
For the uninitiated, the Guardians of the Galaxy are Peter Quill a.k.a Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket, and Groot. All of the characters are brought to life with varying uses for source material. You can tell that Quill is aping off of the Chris Pratt movie incarnation of the character, but other characters feel like a mish-mash of the different source material, which I appreciated. That being said, the voice cast is a large part of why the characters feel the way they do. Telltale regulars like Scott Porter and Adam Harrington voice Star-Lord and Groot, respectively. Obviously Porter is given more to do, as Harrington is left to just repeat “I am Groot” over and over in different tones, but both do an excellent job. The stand out for me was Nolan North as Rocket, who is also the most prolific of voice actors in the cast. He does a really good job bringing the frenetic energy of Bradley cooper’s vocal performance but meshing it with North’s own fantastic delivery.
Of course, this also wouldn’t be a Guardians of the Galaxy title if it didn’t have a lot of licensed music. Electric Light Orchestra greets players, and there are plenty of other moments scored perfectly with other 70s tunes. Episode titles are all just famous song titles, that do hold some bearing with each episode. The first episode, ‘Tangled Up in Blue’, sets the stage for a fun adventure that fans of the movie will definitely enjoy. Those who like the comics will probably get more out of the interesting story beats that the episode provides.
What is fantastic about this Telltale series versus other ones is it is much better paced because of its source material. The Guardians are not prone to long bouts of exposition, and you’re going to find yourself contending with a barrage of action and quips before you’ll come to many smaller, more character-driven beats. For a pilot, Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series does a great job establishing the two big things that will likely mean a lot throughout the series: a battle against Thanos, and a new artifact called the Eternity Forge. The battle will surely bring fans on board immediately, but its the aftermath and decisions that players will be making that provide tension between characters in a believable way for a very dark reason.
Meanwhile, the Eternity Forge gives us our human moments. I’m not going to explain why, but this is where we get Peter Quill at his most vulnerable – and also serves as the basis for why a new villain appears to take the Eternity Forge. It’s hard not to give props to the team at Telltale for utilizing the Eternity Forge in interesting and occasionally funny ways. The way Quill treats the artifact in one scene versus another provides a great sense into the dichotomy of Star-Lord. On one hand, he is the hero with that little bit of vulnerability that lets us root for him, but on the other, he’s kind of despicable and was raised with very few manners and a lot of snark. The conversations you have allow for a lot of that latter point, but I found myself trying to avoid witty responses unless the situation was ridiculous or light-hearted. It’ll come back to bite you if you’re not careful, so it seemed important to play with a duality that fit the character.
Other characters got a lot of attention in my storyline, as well, though it mainly seemed like choices were between Rocket and Gamora, both of whom are very well fleshed out and get plenty of quiet moments with Quill. Its not just those smaller character beats that matter to the relationships, but it helps get an idea of where each characters head is at. If you’re not really familiar with the Guardians then you’ll enjoy these instances because they illuminate what makes the characters tick. The decisions you make regarding them generally feel pretty consequential and right after making my choice and seeing the aftermath, I worried what might happen. Which makes for a more tense and exciting experience.
It’s when the gameplay hits that there’s a lot less excitement. The quick-time events that are always in every Telltale game are still present and they feel like they have a lot more momentum than usually. The main reason is that, while prompts remain simplistic, the camera tracks the main character and shoots towards the next beat of action when required. It’s a smart addition to the action and works really well with this franchise. But then there’s the detective stuff…
I’m happy that Telltale is trying something new, and there is a neat inclusion of Star-Lord’s jet boots for more vertical exploration, but overall, the detective section of the episode feels unnecessary. Quill becomes a time detective as he explores the wreckage of a scene, but it slows everything down to a snail’s pace. Players can communicate with Drax, Rocket, or Gamora at any point during the sequence, but it adds very little. It’s clearly a trick pulled from the Batman playbook, but I don’t think it works well or feels all that congruous with Quill’s actions throughout the entire episode. It’s cool to include some more gadgets, but I felt the pacing slow suddenly when I got to the section.
I think there are enough things that hold this back from being an incredible pilot episode for the series, but Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series is being primed for something explosive. ‘Tangled Up in Blue’ does a great job establishing Quill and his companions, which is crucial to a series where the dynamics of its characters holds such weight on where the plot moves. Based on some of the decisions made already, this seems like the perfect place for the Guardians and their relationships with one another to be explored. Hopefully the same pacing and tension maintains throughout the series, but all I know right now is that I can’t wait to see what comes with the second episode.
A Playstation 4 Review Key for Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series was provided by Telltale Games for the Purpose of this Review.
Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series - Episode 1: Tangled Up in Blue
- Character dynamics quickly established and feel fun
- Consequences immediately felt after decisions
- Interesting story beats anchor the decisions of the episode
- The camera moves with the action to create a better pacing and style to QTEs
- Great voice acting all around
- Detective stuff just feels unnecessary and slows the action
- Sometimes there's just too much snarkiness
- Unfortunately, there are too many characters to give a lot of time to so Groot and Drax feel slightly less important than Rocket and Gamora