Reviews April 24, 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy Episode 1: Tangled Up in Blue

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Reviewed By: Kenneth Seward Jr.
System: PC (Also on Xbox One, PS4, iOS, Android)
Genre: Adventure
Rated: T
Players: 1
Cost: $24.99 (Full Season)
Release Date: 04/18/2017
Publisher: Telltale Games
Developer: Telltale Games

I know I’ve said this before but, Telltale is a machine. Their ability to release multiple licensed titles over a short period of time is nothing short of impressive. Not so much because of the time it takes to develop them – which isn’t surprising given how “small” each adventure is – but because of their level of quality. Telltale has nearly perfected the episodic gaming approach to storytelling.

Their latest series, based on Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, starts off with a bang in the most literal sense. Minutes in and Star-Lord (charming leader of the Guardians) is receiving a distress call from the Nova Corps. Apparently, Thanos is taking it to the Corps on a nearby Kree planet. The Guardians fly in to assist but are blown out of the sky…er…space by the mad titan. Their ship crashes right outside a Kree temple, which as luck would have it, happens to be where Thanos was headed. Unfortunately, they are too late to rescue the remaining Nova Corps though. Looking to make things right, the Guardians do something downright crazy. They venture forth in hopes of confronting Thanos on their own!

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Side note: I assume those of you who are interested in this first episode are aware of who these characters are. If you aren’t, no worries as the game does a great job of explaining who’s who. Besides, you can pretty much guess who is or isn’t a good guy based on my review…

…and so the hulking tattooed brute Drax the Destroyer, along with the other Guardians, took the fight to Thanos. Faces where punched, bodies were thrown, and energy blasts destroyed much of the environment. I won’t go into what happened next beyond stating that things took an interesting turn. Fast forward a few hours later and our heroes are contemplating life as they knew it. Moral and existential dilemmas are coaxed out of each of them between celebratory shots of alcohol; just what does one do with oneself after a lifelong goal has been achieved? The short answer: get into a whole lot of trouble.

“Tangled Up in Blue” does a good job of easing gamers into an already established narrative. Like the first episode of Telltale’s Batman series, this isn’t exactly an origin story. That said, it doesn’t assume you know who these people are. Well, I mean, it does but not in a bad way; you’re given enough information to easily follow along regardless of your level of GotG fandom. It also doesn’t seem to be a rushed attempt to capitalize on the upcoming film. This could very well be a story ripped from the current comics, sans a character change here or there, providing a sense of adventure that only these characters can provide.

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Speaking of adventure, this episode is packed with action! What made the fighting entertaining was that you weren’t just controlling Star-Lord. Sure, he’s the main character when it comes to making tough decisions (moving the plot along) or solving this episode’s brief puzzles. But when the blasters and swords come out, it’s a team effort. During battle, I could go from pouncing on foes as Drax to swinging stone pillars as Groot with the game’s smooth transitions between each hero’s perspective. Not to sound cheesy, but it really felt like you were part of this group which, in part, strengthens the team aspect.

Like most Telltale games, the talent behind these characters did their job well. Of course, Nolan North’s Rocket Raccoon stole the show; like good depictions of the Joker, he just sounds like what we’d imagine Rocket to sound if he were real. A good script lent to this achievement. With witty banter and well-placed jokes, there isn’t much room for error. Building on the audio quality of the voice acting is the  great soundtrack that paints key moments in nostalgic hues. When a character has a flash back to a certain time, so does the player but in a different way.   

From a visual stand point, this series gets high marks for graphical fidelity. Telltale’s past titles had great aesthetics that made them appealing to look at. GotG is the closest they’ve come to achieving a certain level of realism. Everything is still comic book-like with its bright color palette and stylized caricatures, but there’s a sense of weight to the characters that was either missing or not fully realized before.

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All and all, “Tangled Up in Blue” was a solid introduction into the crazy that is GotG. Marvel fans will eat this stuff up. Most Telltale fans will be entertained as well. Here’s hoping that the next instalment can continue to push the envelope in exciting ways!

Gameplay: 10
The plot is interesting and the action segments are entertaining. There really isn’t anything I can complain about.

Graphics: 10
Most of Telltale games score well here. Still, GotG is one of the best-looking games they’ve developed thus far.   

Sound: 10
The cast did a great job. And the music…I mean come on!

Replay Value: 6
There are a few reasons to go back through this episode. But like every other episodic game, most will wait to see how their choices pan out as the series progresses.

Final Score:

9