Telltale's quick-time events segments, awkward gameplay and outdated engine have never topped any 'Best Of' lists. The quality of the IPs with which they work, along with some carefully crafted storytelling, is always what has carried the developer-publisher to great heights. Here we have Guardians of the Galaxy
, one of the most sought-after superhero franchises of the past decade. Massively popular IP — check. Great soundtrack — check. Damaged but lovable heroes — check. Action and emotion — check. Yet somehow, even with the tools they are given, Telltale's storytelling in Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series
doesn't live up to expectations. Combine that with their telltale gameplay tropes (pardon the pun) and aging engine, and you've got one forgettable experience.
Right from the get-go, Episode 5: "Don't Stop Believin'" starts rehashing old content, an issue that was also prevalent in Episode 3
. At the end of Episode 4, members of the Guardians team decided to split up. In Episode 5, Peter sets out to find them with the help of Mantis. To do to this, Mantis takes him on a walk through his memories. Since they're memories, it amounts to a not-so-quick recap of encounters that already happened in earlier episodes.
Gameplay here is also at its all-time low. Telltale's strength is storytelling; choosing dialogue with an occasional QTE sequence is what players have come to expect. When Telltale branches out of that comfort zone and lets the player walk around, as they do here and there, it's a risk that rarely pays off. Peter must traverse physically from memory to memory in Episode 5, and everything about it feels bad: the camera angles, the movement speed and clicking on objects. Interactive gameplay just isn't Telltale's strength and frankly doesn't make much sense in Guardians
, as opposed to something like Batman
where there are scenes to investigate.
Don't drink and drive spacecraft
When the dialogue starts to pick up with new content players haven't seen before, it goes back and forth. We get to see a flashback of how the Guardians met, which is a laugh. There are a lot of inspirational speeches and breakthroughs between the characters, and the episode has a lot of "Hoo-rah!" and "Go team!" Overall, the episode has a feel-good vibe, which is fine to an extent. Fans would love to see the gang get back together and kick Hala's butt.
The problem is that the story also tries to veer off into more serious directions and doesn't have as much success. The parallels drawn between Hala and her son and Peter and his mother feel forced. Without revealing too many spoilers, it's noticeable in one scene in particular. The scene was probably supposed to be heartfelt and touching, but those emotions aren't conveyed. It's empty. It's made worse because Episode 5 is the the climax of a five-episode series, and there are no future episodes to make players forget about how lackluster this one is.
And how does that make you feel?
The achievements for Episode 5 are as predictable and straightforward as ever. Simply complete the episode to earn your final 200 gamerscore, bringing it up to 1,000 total if you've completed the prior four episodes. 20 gamerscore is earned for each of the first five chapters and 100 gamerscore is awarded for the completion of the sixth chapter.Check out our The Best Xbox Adventure Games Available in 2018 article for a compilation of other great games in this genre.
Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy is a popular IP that has strong action and emotion, all backed up by a rock-solid soundtrack. Telltale held the power to make it a memorable addition to the Telltale library, but they let it slip away. The story hits some of the notes of a feel-good superhero story but falls flat when it tries to evoke more powerful emotions like sadness. Flashbacks to prior episodes are often used as a crutch as well, making the final episode thin on new content. When you strip away the lackluster storytelling, all you have is an outdated engine, a QTE formula that has been wearing thin for a long time and clunky gameplay that can't stand on its own.
- Ties up loose ends of prior episodes
- Plenty of feel-good moments
- Ending is anticlimactic and forced
- A lot of rehashing of prior scenes in the series
- Walking around segments feel as clunky and dated as ever
The reviewer spent about an hour and a half with Episode 5. In typical Telltale fashion, all six achievements were earned for 200 gamerscore. An Xbox One code for the season pass was provided courtesy of the publisher for the purpose of this review.