Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series Episode 1 Review

By Kelly Packard,
Telltale is handling some of the hottest, most profitable intellectual property these days. From The Walking Dead to Batman , Game of Thrones to Minecraft, and Borderlands, the episodic titans have been taking the casual gaming scene by storm for years. Due to the recent success of the Guardians of the Galaxy film as well as the superhero craze in general, it surprised no one when Telltale announced a collaboration with Marvel to make Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series. Crammed into that mouthful of a name is a lot of branding, but to win over gamers' hearts, you'll need more than a recognizable franchise and an utterance of the phrase "I am Groot."

Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series

To use a cliche, unless you've been living under a rock for the past several years, you probably know what a Telltale game entails and you probably know what Guardians of the Galaxy is. Whether or not you've actually engaged with either of these things is irrelevant and won't hinder your understanding or enjoyment of the game. Telltale is up to its usual trope of more movie than game. Per the Telltale M.O., you'll be occupied with watching the game play out while you're occasionally asked to input a dialogue decision or a button combination, or walk around a small locale. "Episode 1: Tangled Up in Blue" does a fine job of introducing each member of the Guardians team to the audience and in no time you'll know all about Peter, Gamora, Drax, Rocket and Groot (he is Groot).

Even at the title screen, and a bit later in the opening scene, Marvel and Telltale's Guardians has an immediate identity as Peter moonwalks to a great soundtrack of late 60s and and early 70s tunes while chatting up some space marines who have video-called him for an assist. The silly dialogue options with which you'll be able to respond to the first question set up the mood for the rest of the game. These superheroes may be weighed down with problems, whether it be the murder of their family, the passing away of a loved one, strained relationships or whatever the heck trees worry about, but most of the time they're all cheese, fluff and sarcasm.

Guys, is this gun big enough?Guys, is this gun big enough?

While "not taking itself too seriously" is usually a recipe for a hit game, Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series can't seem to decide what it wants to be. The characters do possess inner demons and moral dilemmas that steep much of the Guardians lore, but it hasn't been inserted into the video game as eloquently as it could have been. It could be compared to that guy or gal at the party who's had too much to drink — one moment they're delivering a corny joke and the next they are deeply troubled. The dialogue often bounces from humor to sudden sadness without warning or occasion to the point of being almost jarring.

The humor also isn't really humor as much as it is groan-worthy cheesiness. Aside from the brief moments of seriousness, the light and fluffy jabs fit in with the overall feel of the game — the feel-good soundtrack, the characters' personalities, the guy who doesn't know how to say anything but "I am Groot" with different voice inflections — but it might grate on some players due to its nonstop nature. Need a door opened? Cue up a cheesy line. Encounter with a bad guy? One-liner incoming. Sad moment? Promptly followed by some silly dialogue, of course.

Slowest. Elevator. Ever.Slowest. Elevator. Ever.

That's not to say it's bad. Even with its flaws, the story is packed with the usual superhero action and will leave you awaiting the next episode. As for your choices, historically Telltale games let players make decisions here and there, but they never significantly alter the story line despite these choices. We've all seen the "So-and-so will remember this" meme; it's closer to an illusion of choice. In Episode 1, there was only one choice that could be made that caused a different event to trigger — and thus aligning the player with a certain person or group — and I'm curious to see if this decision will make an impact later on in the episodes or if it will just be more of Telltale's usual lack of ability to let the player dictate the story.

Guardians of the Galaxy's performance is exactly what we've come to expect, or rather deal with, from the Telltale engine. The graphics aren't bad but the engine shows its age in the awkward way characters move during the occasions you're asked to walk around and examine objects. Whether or not you experience freezing and crashing, also a telltale sign of Telltale, seems to be up to luck and individual experience nowadays. Everything went off without a hitch for most of the episode until near the end when a cutscene ground to a halt for almost 30 seconds, long enough I thought the game had frozen, and long enough to remind me this engine still has its share of problems.

Just a guy from Earth casually flying around in spaceJust a guy from Earth casually flying around in space

Per usual, the achievement list is a relief to achievement hunters — they can all be earned just by playing through each individual act and not having to worry about missing anything. The first five acts will net you five achievements worth 20 points each with the last act offering a whopping 100 points, all adding up to a total of 200 gamerscore.

Summary

"Episode 1: Tangled Up in Blue" is a satisfactory launchpad for the rest of Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series. So far the game has a distinct identity chock-full of cheesy dialogue, catchy tunes and badass superheroes, although moments of seriousness and sadness that seem to come out of nowhere don't fit in. There is no prerequisite that you have prior knowledge of the franchise, so feel free to just dive right in regardless of whether you're a newcomer or a die-hard fan. However, it's a Telltale game so be ready for all of the usual culprits of their aging engine, like awkward walking animations and some hiccuping and freezing.
3.5 / 5
Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series
Positives
  • Nicely sets up things to come
  • Good soundtrack
  • No need to be familiar with the comics or film
Negatives
  • Serious and sad segments clash awkwardly with the overall cheesiness
  • Same old Telltale engine problems such as freezing and weird walking animations
Ethics
The reviewer spent roughly an hour and a half playing through the first episode of Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series. All six of the achievements were earned for a total of 200 gamerscore. An Xbox One code was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.
Kelly Packard
Written by Kelly Packard
In a few descriptors: college student, longtime gamer, writer and junk food enthusiast. I contribute to TrueAchievements as a news writer and reviewer. Usually, you can find me knee-deep in a multiplayer game while ignoring my growing backlog or on one forum or another discussing all things gaming.