It’s been quite a few years since Telltale Games announced they were doing something with Marvel, and up until very recently we had no idea what kind of direction they were going to go with it. Whether you’re happy with the outcome or not, it’s here, and hell, the Guardians of the Galaxy are massively popular at the moment. Whilst I enjoyed the first episode, I can’t help but think Telltale Games has found a formula that very rarely stretches beyond what it’s comfortable with. Many of the choices don’t have much weight, gameplay rarely offers anything fresh, and I’m already worried that Guardians of the Galaxy isn’t going to blow me away.
The story focuses on the discovery of a mysterious artifact known as the Eternity Forge, and after a nicely constructed battle between the Guardians and Thanos (you really expected him not to feature?), it enters your possession. Episode One doesn’t start with a bang, but once you encounter the Mad Titan for the first time, the ambition in Telltale’s latest game is noticeable: button prompts are more dynamic, the environments are large and unique, the voice acting works very well (with a stellar performance by Nolan North as Rocket Raccoon) between the group, and there are very few frame rate issues – for the most part.
There are issues that have plagued many of Telltale Games’ game series, and they’re still here, even now. Eyes are poor – particularly Star Lord, and some of the facial animations don’t work well i.e. there are a few occasions where characters respond to dialogue by facial expressions, and it’s hard to read what they’re thinking (a certain elevator scene for one). It’s such a shame because it’s astounding what advancements have been made in scale, and seeing these old hindrances affect the results of hard work is so frustrating. I also had an occasion near the end when the game completely froze up, causing me to restart the game by closing the application.
Tonally, Tangled Up in Blue gets the Guardians spot on. There are many similarities with the movie and the comics, and that’s great because you want this iteration to feel familiar. Star Lord is still a loveable rogue, Drax is still bluntly literal, Gamora is still strong willed, Rocket Raccoon is still short-tempered, and Groot is still, well, Groot. The banter between the team is great, and the option to make Star Lord less lovable is interesting – some of the responses can make him look like a real dick, and at the best of times in the episode, the team’s relationship is tested.
Going back to the art style, some of the environments are incredibly detailed. Your ship (the Milano) has different chambers such as Peter’s room, and the main cockpit (where you can read through random emails, check the codex for info on characters and locations, and even make calls) is littered with computer terminals – even the view out into space is staggering. The soundtrack boasts great songs by ELO and Hall & Oates, and the way they are employed works extremely well, especially when we take a trip into Peter Quill’s past.
Like most first episodes, Tangled Up in Blue sets the scene for the rest of the series, but I’m struggling to see what it’s going to do differently. Maybe I’m missing the point, and it’s supposed to be fun, just like the movie, but I’m finding it harder and harder to get on with the same kind of game in a different setting. Telltale Games is a fantastic developer, and I’ll forever play their games because they’ve given me some great memories, but I’m getting fatigued by them. Nonetheless, Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series has started off with some good talking points, some new ways to incorporate the button prompts, and a great rapport between the voice actors that feels authentic.
Design is more ambitious
Nice incorporation of button prompts
Nolan North as Rocket Raccoon
Facial expressions are poor
Game froze near the end
Eyes still aren't right
Story feels too generic