Game: Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series ep 1 Tangled up in blue
Release date: April 18th, 2017
Developer: Telltale Games
I have to be honest. I like Marvel movies, but my favorite characters are all DC. It's just that their movies have been so bad lately. Also, I'm one of the few who found the original Guardians of the Galaxy movie to be rather boring. As a result, although we've enjoyed Telltale's adaptations of various entities, I was pretty worried how this version would turn out. Combined with the movie that I found boring is Telltale's known issues of engine and performance flaws. The story of The Guardians of the Galaxy isn't set up to be a walk through style video game similar to what Telltale normally does. Of course, just as in Batman: The Telltale Series, Telltale found a way to implement a new story and make you care more about the characters than the actual action in an action based video game. They have managed to become the embodiment of the phrase the pen is mightier than the sword.
This is not your classic origin story tied into a video game. Most importantly, Telltale takes the Guardians at a much later point. As a team, they are chasing down Infinity Gauntlet wielding Thanos. Each one has their own personal issues which vary slightly from the movie. Peter's mom has a part in the game but in a different manner than the movie, and Drax still wants to eliminate everything in his path. Telltale's Guardians of the Galaxy is going the route similar of its Batman series. While that broke ground in focusing on Bruce and his personal issues rather than Batman's, Guardians is going to center on the individual shortcomings of each member. It's obvious that the remaining four episodes will focus on their respective healing as well as integrating them back into the special group/family mode they each desire.
The game, just like the movie, is Peter's story. Even with portraying a story different than the film for each character, Telltale managed to convey this in a manner that gave each Guardian pretty much equal time. You feel immersed in each character's story, and can feel function as their own character all the while situated inside the main story arc of Starlord. The action pacing held up and was surprisingly integrated well. It's difficult to manage multiple characters, action sequences and new stories for each one but Telltale pulled it off. Integrating all the stories together allowed less time to be spent on each character, but just enough to allow each one to shine on its own.
Telltale is known for enlisting little, new details into each of their games. Guardians is no different as it's the first that let's you traverse different platform levels while exploring. Peter's rocket boots let's you jump up to new heights and look around. It's a rather baseless inclusion as nothing of note comes of it outside of the game's normal progress, but it shows that little effort which Telltale uses to stay fresh and not go stale in their games. Combat is also unique in that you get to control each one of the Guardians. In addition to just hearing their stories, the ability to control each character let's you become more immersed in them and let's the episode play out better than it would if it was all Peter, all the time. The battles have a higher sense of weight to them as a result as well.
Outside of story, voice acting and graphics are what have made Telltale games so great. The gameplay has always been a sidenote. In Guardians of the Galaxy, the voice acting is different than what we are accustomed to in the film. At first, it's a bit odd to not hear Chris Pratt's sarcasm, but that feeling goes away after the first few minutes due to the implementation of the new character stories. Even though Bradley Cooper doesn't show up as Rocket, Nolan North (because why not) does a pretty solid job portraying the bullet spewing rodent. Groot is Groot and Drax yells as he normally does, but each individual part works as it serves as an essential piece of the whole story. The game's environments are pretty and don't appear flat as in some Telltale games, but there are of course the proverbial Telltale bugs. Even with their new engine, I'm not sure why this keeps happening. There really shouldn't be any frame rate issues in games that simply have QTE battles and slow, walking exploration. For some reason, Telltale games keep having these issues in performance despite incredible story telling. In no way would I sacrifice the story for better mechanics, but there is no reason that these performance problems can't be fixed. After all this time, I'd love to see Telltale put the same effort into their mechanics as they do to keeping their stories fresh and innovative rather than taking the sacrifice one to save a village mentality. After all, they are using a brand new engine.
Although it's not called 'Awesome Mixtape', the soundtrack in Telltale Guardians of the Galaxy is just as variable. If you haven't noticed, each episode's title is named after a song, with Tangled up in Blue named after a Bob Dylan tune. All part in parcel of the typical Telltale game, Guardians of the Galaxy is one of the better launch episode the developer has put out. Personally, I'd rank it just behind Batman and tied with The Wolf Among Us as the second best launch title Telltale has done. The character story development, sound and voice acting and fight pacing all made for an integrative story that let each Guardian shine on its own without taking anything away from the main story. It is a Telltale game, so don't go into it with a Marvel purist mentality or you'll be disappointed.
Overall, Guardians of the Galaxy ranks up there as our second favorite launch episode from Telltale and we can't wait to see how the characters' stories progress from here