Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series (Xbox One) Review

By Josh Di Falco 09.12.2017

Review for Marvel

It is no secret that Telltale's long-play format for telling stories has been an increasingly popular method of storytelling in video games. While other developers are releasing their episodic tales, and even converting main franchises into the episodic format, Telltale continues their escalating trend of releasing multiple episodes for a host of different series per year. This time around, they took on Marvel's own Guardians of the Galaxy, adapting it from the comics as opposed to the well-established Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, without upgrading the aging game engine, does it become too much of a liability with Telltale's storytelling? How does this season compare to Telltale's other hit series?

Peter Quill and the story of how he met his menacing band of future Guardians may not necessarily be a well-known story, but the premise of this game begins after the group has been saving the galaxy together for a while. The Guardians are hot on the heels amidst a chase with the great evil Thanos. Considering Thanos' status in the current MCU, there could not have been a better way to kick proceedings off in this series. However, soon the ancient Kree threaten to return to their full power as Hala inserts herself into the story and seeks to resurrect them with the aid of the mystical Eternity Forge.

While the first episode does a good job in establishing the series context and getting it moving, it does slow down in the following episodes. Due to the cast of five characters, they each have one episode that explores their character developments and backstories in order to flesh them out. Each flashback aims to connect each characters current motive, while trying to humanise them further as they each have a tragedy that has made them who they are today. Some flashback sequences are worth experiencing, such as Rocket's tragic story concerning a fellow rodent who was in the same test lab as he, or Drax and one of his more cherished moments with his daughter, Kamaria.

Screenshot for Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series on Xbox One

Peter Quill, being the main character, has various flashbacks across the five episodes that each detail a new moment with his mother. This aspect of the story is quite interesting and equally haunting as Star-Lord tries to understand why he keeps flashbacking to these moments regarding his mother. The scenes are voice-acted well, and they hit right in the heartstrings at times. Each scene mainly comes with a decision that helps to shape young Peter Quill into the man that he becomes contextually.

Gamora's flashback was one of the few let-down moments, as even though it was action-packed with a cool fight sequence during a sparring session with her sister Nebula, it did not do much more to develop both characters that the current storyline was already covering. Both sisters have issues with each other, and the flashback did little to instigate where these issues came from beyond what was already known: that Thanos, their adoptive father, had turned the two against each other. The manner upon which the scene plays out is also a little clumsy, and the shock value that Telltale was going for in the twist is undermined by the fact that it was a flashback, thus negating the said twist.

Groot was the only character not to have an emotional or tragic flashback, as his serves as the abridged "origins" tale of how the Guardians meet. It is a comical scene with some underlying truths that this team was never meant to get along, and the entire season is full of in fighting between the characters in their inability to work as a team. While this story thread is meant to be an important piece of the puzzle for them to finally unite against the greater threat against the galaxy, beyond the third episode, it does get somewhat tiresome.

Screenshot for Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series on Xbox One

The Guardians play out as expected for each of them. P. Quill is the typical, arrogant and always douche leader of the pack, while Gamora spends the entire season brooding over her past mistakes as she lets them define her every move. Rocket also spends his entire time angry and crying foul at everyone who disagrees with himself and it is hard not to be sick of both him and Gamora by the end of the season. The loveable Groot is still the cutest character, and he has many fun moments that make him shine, while Drax definitely lightens the mood at every turn. His inability to understand metaphors and his complete literal way of thinking never gets old, and even during the darker moments of the series, there are those faint moments of joy that only Drax can bring.

The secondary cast of characters features Nebula who pops in and out of the story to harass the Guardians in her never-ending sibling rivalry with her sister, Gamora. Apart from the flashback fight scene, her entire story thread is forgettable, which is a shame. Yondu is one of the funnier characters who has a brief moment where he shines. The banter between him and Drax in their minor encounter can bring about a chortle. Rounded out by the evils in Thanos and Hala, the series is a bit light on introducing many new characters, which isn't bad as the focus was more on trying to establish the main cast and their relationships with each other. Unfortunately, for Hala, though, while she started the season pretty intimidating and evil, she never quite had that grand aura around her, such as the one Thanos brings to the table, and feels like a pretty weak villain.

Screenshot for Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series on Xbox One

The much-maligned choices thrown up in this season is exactly that. While previous Telltale entries have had moments of proper moral dilemmas, Guardians of the Galaxy is weak on the actual choice moments it throws up. Even looking at the statistics has shown just how one-sided every decision is, and the sense of urgency in the decision-making due to the dire ramifications is completely non-existent in this series, save for the climactic moment right at the end of the season.

The gaming engine has aged, as well, as the character movements around the various stages feel clunky and rigid. There are the occasional annoying stages, where Peter Quill has to turn on the three engines in order to escape a monster's belly while avoiding acidic fluids with his not-so-reliable hover-skates. Thankfully, these moments get fewer as the season progresses, though getting through the first half of the season can be a real slog, as these moments coupled with some of the multi-level stages are cumbersome.

Being Guardians of the Galaxy, the soundtrack had to be top notch, and Telltale did not disappoint. "Livin Thing" by Electric Light Orchestra opens up the title page, and it perfectly encapsulates the essence of the films. Soon, the toes will be tapping and the head will be nodding to King Harvest's "Dancing in the Moonlight" and The Buzzcocks' "Why Can't I Touch It" as they threaten to forever remain in the brain during the game. The overall soundtracks for each episode are definitely one of the best features of this series, and they help set the tone for the series, story and the characters.

Screenshot for Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series on Xbox One

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Telltale's version of Guardians of the Galaxy may not have made the best first impression upon debut, but towards the end of the season the story had finally managed to get going in a positive way. While it may have been too little too late, the ramifications it has for a potential season two should be reason enough to get into this season. The decision-making was extremely one-sided and lacked any sense of moral urgency and quandaries. While it still suffers from the same clunky control scheme, the character development between each of the Guardians is a fascinating rollercoaster to experience. In addition, battling Thanos was a terrific way to open up the series. Moreover, the soundtrack greatly helps in setting the tone and furthering the adventure with its catchy tunes.









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   


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