Telltale Games had a lot to live up to after releasing the absolutely stellar ‘Tales from the Borderlands’. I’m not a huge fan of its Walking Dead series or its Game of Thrones one-off, and its latest Batman game I still have yet to push past its first episode, but Tales from the Borderlands and The Wolf Among Us were just so damn good and became my Telltale Games benchmark. It was during a voice actor strike that we first learned of Telltale adapting Guardians of the Galaxy to their adventure game model and one that at times can be a great experience, even if the cracks in the engine are really starting to show.
“Tangled up in Blue” is the first of five episodes that will be released periodically throughout the year to be purchased separately or as part of a $26.99 season pass. It’s also expected that there will be a physical edition released some point later on that collects the episodes in one easy to download package, even if the season pass purchase is a simple click itself.
This version of the Guardian’s team is a small twist on what Director James Gunn and writer Nicole Perlman brought to us in the 2014 movie than what we currently see in the latest comics, even if the comic book publisher is slowly converting these characters to something closer to their celluloid counterparts. Peter Quill still rocks the cassette player, even if it’s an awful purple color here instead of the orange we saw in the movie. Gamora reflects much on her sister Nebula as well as her father, the Mad Titan; Thanos. Drax still takes everything spoken to him quite literal and Rocket is still always complaining and translating for Groot.
Episode 1 takes us to a few places and puts the team in a variety of situations, even if there isn’t much going on here. There is a rather fun ‘boss battle’ in the early chapters with someone I hope to still see in later episodes, despite the resolution of not only this battle but with how the story ends at the conclusion of this episode. The game does shake up a few of the standard Telltale mechanics and allows Peter to converse with his team via a comm device for a few interesting bits of dialogue, as well as using Peter’s thrusters on his boots to explore the surroundings to give us some more classic point and click moments. I did find the game to be far too easy with no puzzle elements really to be found to offer much challenge or creativity.
I found that after the initial few chapters that the game slows down a bit too much and not a whole lot happens. During these moments, you can interact with the team, explore some very small areas aboard the Milano, and a dialogue only chapter in a space bar where you’ll need to take sides on a few arguments between team members. At times the game can feel like it is trying to mimic certain moments from the movie instead of going further with these characters in situations created solely for the game.
As is the case with all the Telltale adventure games, you will make choices that can, and will, have consequences to your actions, or what you say, or sometimes what you don’t say, to characters within the story. “Rocket will remember that” or, “Drax noticed what you did” will flash up on the screen after making certain choices indicating that what you said or did will have some effect later on. While most of these consequences are not felt in this episode, there are moments in the game where the story does take a change depending on who you sided with during a fight or what was spoken earlier on.
As I mentioned in my Tales from the Borderlands review, the engine used for Telltales’s games is really starting to show its age. There are some nice visual spots in the game like details here and there, but for the most part, there isn’t anything here that is drastically impressive. Characters and environments can be rather basic, have poor textures or suffer from some very robotic animations. When you are given the freedom to walk around, Starlord’s walking animations are painful to watch. The game also suffers from some awkward pauses when it transitions from scene to scene or when you move to another room on the Milano. For a game as visually basic as it is, load times can be oddly long and break the pace of a scene.
As was the case with the movies, and its upcoming sequel, Telltale has packed in a few licensed songs that feel very comfortable here and work well. The cast of the game is pretty decent and can often look to emulate what Marvel Studios has done with the movies. Scott Porter is rather good as Peter Quill and I’m glad he doesn’t really look to fully mimic what Chris Pratt did with the role and attempts to have fun with the character and give him a voice that works well with the Telltale model. Brandon Paul Eells, Emily O’Brien, and Adam Harrington all work well as Drax, Gamora, and Groot, but don’t offer much in the way of standing out. Lastly, we have Nolan North as Rocket. While this isn’t the first time that North has voiced the explosive little rascal, he has tweaked the voice a bit to sound more like that of Bradley Cooper and this small change really helps it prevent itself from sounding more like a parody of the character. The rest of the cast is good, so far, and the main villain of the game has me intrigued, to say the least.
Episode 1 is an ok but often uneven start to this five-part series which thankfully is more fun that it’s not. I didn’t find the writing to be as witty and as fun as Tales from the Borderlands and felt the game played it very safe and uneventful for its debut episode. Visually I would have liked to see Telltale update their engine and put far more polish on a game that should be running far more smoother than what we get here. I am very interested to see where the next four episodes take us as the villain looks to impress and the story is just interesting enough to wet my appetite for more shenanigans in a galaxy that needs a few more guardians, and dance off’s, which I am sure will happen eventually, because reasons.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series was purchased and reviewed on Xbox One. All Screenshots were taken via the screenshot system and shared via the Windows 10 Xbox One App.
Still not sure? Take a look at the Episode 1 trailer!