Whether by popular demand or personal intrigue, I really do enjoy Telltale Games. I’ve played all their series’ and adaptions (minus Game of Thrones as that’s still waiting on my dashboard because I’m not a huge fan of the brand) and will continue doing so until there’s a severe dip in quality. And no not the dip in quality pertaining to technical issues. Those are going to be around forever in Telltale titles it seems. Even though I’m just along for the ride, I enjoy anything that has to do with superheroes. Yes, even before they became cool in the late 2000s. So Guardians of the Galaxy Episode 1 is right there alongside Batman for my idea of a good time.
The story for episode one, Tangled in Blue, follows our lovable misfits in their quest to stop and/or kill Thanos, the Mad Titan. Also known as the guy everyone pretended to know when he appeared in the post-credits scene of The Avengers. In fact, the game literally starts with a distress call from the Nova Corp (galactic police) begging for Star-lord’s help. The rest of the gang is informed and off to face the big baddie. Now in the effort of not spoiling things, let’s just say that except for a few parts this episode will mostly only set up plot points. Not necessarily a bad thing but hear me out.
Major things happen early and the story may feel a bit uneven because of it. The pacing could have used some work and the order of events could be better aligned. In the end we find out that a handful of Kree, a warrior and highly advanced alien race, have survived and want to basically conquer everything with a mysterious artifact. They will be your focus, not Thanos. As I mentioned though, you won’t find this out until the uneven plot of the first episode straightens itself out. Additionally, there’s a few plot contrivances. For example, it’s hard to take a character’s anger over being teased seriously when this same character tried to undermine another person over something he worked his entire life for. Plus, it literally happened just before the pouting began. However, through these issues was definitely an attempt to try something new and not follow a structure that came before. I have to give props for that.
The characters themselves are the characters we know (through comics or the movies), but feel like slightly watered-down versions of themselves. The core aspect and personality traits of each hero remains intact so there’s no need to worry about that. It’s just sometimes an event or dialogue exchange could have been done so much better to truly fit the characters. Still there were moments were I chuckled or cracked a grin because of Drax’s ineptitude, Rocket’s excitement, or Groot’s cuteness. Yes, I called a tree alien cute. We could have received better renditions of the infamous group, but we’re by no means given the bottom of the barrel.
Gameplay is pretty standard if you’re familiar with Telltale experiences. When you’re actively controlling a character, you move around an area and inspect things. If you’re in a conversation or cutscene, you choose what responses to say, and if you’re in a battle, you have to perform a bunch of quick-time events. Although Guardians of the Galaxy has the added feature of talking briefly with comrades through a head piece. For the most part the gameplay takes a backseat to cutscenes and dialogue choices. I know that’s part for the course here, but believe me when I say it’s really evident for episode one.
The choices feel like they have weight as always. Just nothing ever really changes in the long run as always. Also, it’s very clear what choices people will make in this series if the first episode is anything to go by for Guardian’s of the Galaxy. Essentially, you can choose to be a dick or the guy who does what’s right. The ending choice scenes made that very apparent with the huge gap in selection percentage. This isn’t necessarily a con, just something that’s easily noticeable. The voice acting is good though and delivered the decisions I made well enough.
Graphics are an improved bunch thanks to Telltale’s newest engine, that Batman first took for a ride, and present things rather nicely. There were a nice blend of colors and art that popped out because of that. The soundtrack is probably the closest thing to the Guardians of the Galaxy movie. Expect to hear a lot of classic rock or similar tunes throughout your adventure. Star-Lord ain’t no slouch in any form when it comes to taste. Unfortunately, they’re brought down as always due to Telltale Games’ problem with technical hiccups. Framerates will drop, characters will display awkward or cringeworthy expressions, and a few spots of stuttering. Again, something that fans of this developer know all too well.
Guardians of the Galaxy episode 1 straddles the line between doing something different and keeping our heroes in character to mixed results. I suppose I have to ask myself if I’m eager to play the next episode? Yes, but not in the way like The Walking Dead or Tales From the Borderlands. Minus one boss fight (although that one fight has galactic implications) Tangled in Blue starts the series off slow. It attempts to build a world that Telltale can freely play with and, given their track record, I can’t wait to see what they do with it.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy purchased at retail, with the latest patch available, and on a base PS4.
Guardians of the Galaxy Episode 1
- Interesting twists and take on the material
- Music was solid
- Voice acting above average
- Neat action scenes (when they happen)
- Slow build up
- Technical visual problems aplenty
- Uneven pacing
- Minor plot contrivances