Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: Tangled Up in Blue Review – Telltale rises
Platforms: PC(reviewed), PS4, XboxOne, Android, IOS
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Release: 18th April 2017
Price: 4.99 / 24.99 (Season Pass)
Disclaimer: Review Key provided by Telltale Games
As a big Guardians of the Galaxy fan, I was certainly happy that Telltale was working on a series for this truly unique franchise. Especially because Guardians of the Galaxy relies so much on its characters and dialogues. So, with the release of the first episode Tangled Up in Blue I can confirm, that Telltale nailed it once again, it´s Telltale after all.
Unlike most Telltale series, Guardians of the Galaxy throws us right into the action. Instead of a slower-paced origins story of the Guardians Telltale decided to start its first 30 minutes with (spoilers ahead) the death of Thanos. The resulting storyline focuses all around the future of the Guardians, will they still remain the Guardians without an enemy to unite them? Additionally they have to think about selling Thanos body, to cover their bills but not everyone is the same opinion. While the first hour deals more with the struggling of the Guardians as friends, the second half tries to spice things up a bit.
With the addition of Peter´s flashbacks to his childhood, Telltale somehow manages to abandon their courage they showed during the first hour, in exchange for a generic son-mom relationship, that I´ve already seen in so many other games and movies. Another point I can´t quite understand is the main villain, which occurs in the second half. Thanos´s death opened so many paths for an interesting new story about the characters itself, yet the seemingly main villain is so … bland. It maybe makes sense plot-wise but for a series that started with the establishment of an alternative storyline I expected more somehow.
Especially Telltale´s ability to write great dialogues and characters really shines here. Due to the long character exposition sequence, the character´s are a big focus point during the whole episode and their personalities are just great. Like in the comics or the recent movie, the dialogues freely shift between funny and serious topics. However, Telltale created a far more serious world than I had expected, with comedy mostly in combat scenes and not in regular dialogues. Characters actually argue, piss each other of and sometimes hate others, which works really well with the overall story. In contrast to the movie that focused heavily on comedy, for better or worse, I really enjoyed their different approach.
Unfortunately the superficial decisions are also present here, making the game´s story about the future of the Guardians somehow pointless again. If I know that they will stick around for all 5 episodes why should I care about it in the first episode? It´s clear that Telltale tried to improve their decision “policy” by making them more character based, forcing you to decide between two characters opinions, like Rocket´s and Drax´s. So, most of them don´t “influence” the story anymore but the relations between characters, at least for some time, and it has to be seen if it will have any consequences. Yet, the fact that I had to think about, if I should support my all-time favourite Rocket even tho he was clearly a dick, or the more or less nice Drax, showed my commitment to the characters. Overall, I was more dragged into the decisions than normally, which is a small but good step-forward.
Presentation-wise Telltale also changed a lot, compared to their previous series. Abandoning the very stylized look of nearly all other series, in exchange for a cleaner and more “realistic” look. The result is maybe their best looking series, textures seem sharper, details more defined and everything just seems so much more beautiful. For the Soundtrack Telltale got quite a bit influenced by the movie, well, it copied it in this aspect but that isn´t something bad. The 90s influenced Soundtrack of the movie was a big part, why it was so unique and it works as good in a video game. The moment you enter the main menu, the music starts to kick in and your immediatly blown away, which happens everytime such moments appear in the episodes. It´s just great. Sadly, this greatness doesn´t carry over to the “Gameplay”, it´s basically the same we know from Telltale. Occasionally adventure areas, mixed with dialogue choices and easy Quick Time Events. The implemented Easter Eggs doesn´t help at improving it either.
All in all Guardians of the Galaxy seems to be one of the most promising Telltale series so far. It tries to improve a lot of aspects that drag these games down since years, while maintaining the Telltale typical strengths. Especially the story shows that they want to try something new with this series, offering a very compelling alternative plot to the movies, enhanced with strong characters and dialogues that can successfully carry it. Yet, it´s often gets dragged down by the fact that the story often revolves around the future of their friendship, which doesn´t really work, if you know that its just the first episode. Hopefully they don´t loose this trail and continue pursueing it in the next episodes, due to the new main villain.
To conclude, I enjoyed the first episode and am confident that it will be a great series, maybe even one of Telltale´s best, if they continue to improve!