Prior to 2014, few people outside of dedicated comic book fans would have recognized the names of Groot, Drax or any of the sarcastic members that make up the Guardians of the Galaxy. Thanks to a dedicated and hilarious movie adaptation, however, the space-travelling quintet has garnered as equal a mainstream renown as their more recognizable Marvel compatriots, and the expected revenue for the upcoming sequel, in addition to the recent revealing of a third movie, shows that their popularity likely has nowhere else to go but up. So, it only seems fitting that the crew receive a proper video game adaptation as well, and Telltale has set out to do just that, as they continue to expand their storytelling prowess into new licensed properties, with the studio now having access to both the DC and Marvel comics universes. The first episode, Tangled Up in Blue, adds some intriguing tweaks to the patented Telltale gameplay, and gets the story started off on a high note thanks to some universe-differentiating choices and a stellar soundtrack.
The opening scene of Tangled Up in Blue certainly makes it seem like Telltale’s take on Guardians will be a standard affair, as Star-Lord ends up crashing the Milano and his crew on an unknown planet while in pursuit of purple chair-fanatic Thanos. But shortly afterwards, some bold moves lead to some pretty unique and potential-filled consequences, as new possibilities for the gang open up and relationships get stretched to their limits. While this story direction may seem off-putting to fans of the movie by discrediting an important aspect of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it certainly has its intrigue for those willing to appreciate it for what it is, which is only bolstered by the strong voice acting for the dysfunctional family. Although not all of the humor lands as often as it should, the mixture of mainstream and altered voices and traits does wonders to make the cast feel fresh as they partake on their latest journey. This focus on the crew is aided by a few flashbacks and briefly-summarized backstories, with the latter of which feeling a bit more out of place due to the team’s established relationships with one another.
Although a large portion of the gameplay is still the classic combination of dialogue choices, exploration, and QTEs that Telltale fans have come to know, a few smart additions have been implemented to embrace the sci-fi theme. Remote communication abilities allow Starlord to chat with his teammates more frequently, enhancing his relationship with the lot, while his dual pistols support some faster-paced combat that feels more satisfying to pull off. Exploration has received the most improvements, as Starlord’s arsenal of gadgets grant him some new means of traversal and discovery, such as his jet-boots allowing for quick multi-floor navigation. Each of the new mechanics feel well-implemented and thematically appropriate, as Telltale continues to show that you can teach an old genre new tricks.
Right off the bat, Telltale’s Guardians of the Galaxy hits players with some classic rock music reminiscent of the James Gunn movie(s), with several other tunes making in appearance in this first episode. With the soundtrack serving multiple narrative functions, the songs feel appropriate as opposed to a cheap tie-in, as one can hope that the studio will continue to expand the musical selection over the coming episodes. Graphically, the game never really amazes, but it does serve its purpose just fine, as players explore relatively-mundane environments. On a positive note, the first episode was technically smooth during our two hour playthrough, representing a rare level of polish from the developer.
Tangled Up in Blue is a promising start for the Guardians of the Galaxy series, as Telltale applies its usual focus upon the contrasting relationships of the flawed but endearing squad. With some fresh tweaks to the gameplay and a solid soundtrack to rock out to, Telltale’s latest is one to keep an eye on for both Guardians fans and newcomers alike.