When Telltale officially revealed that their next franchise they would be adapting was Guardians of the Galaxy, some were surprised at the studio’s willingness to take on a series more known for its lighthearted nature. After all, one of the team’s most noteworthy works, the first season of The Walking Dead, leaned heavily on themes of death and peril, coercing players into growing attachments with strangers that they would eventually be forced to save or watch die in front of them. This sense of morbidity only grew stronger when Telltale followed it up with adaptations of Game of Thrones and Batman, where the lighter moments were heavily outweighed by serious choices and conversations. Thus far, their take on Guardians of the Galaxy has struggled to find its comedic footing, but it’s still proven to be a much jollier affair than the team’s other works. With Who Needs You, Telltale reverts to its fondness for weighty moments and decisions, but despite a few memorable scenes, the penultimate episode feels out of place and stagnant.
While the remainder of the review will not address any spoilers for “Who Needs You”, important plot points from the previous episodes of the season will be discussed below. For more on the season so far, check out the reviews for “Tangled Up in Blue”, “Under Pressure” and “More Than a Feeling.”
This early mention of the importance of choice may prove intriguing to fans who were slighted by the ending of More Than a Feeling, which didn’t do quite as effective a job as Telltale usually does of hiding the connection between the amount of choices and the (usually fewer) amount of results. But with such frequent hinting at the Guardians heading their separate ways when the opportunity presented itself, it was only a matter of time before these threats started turning into potential actions, especially with the stakes now as high as they are. For the most part, Who Needs You does a respectable job of making each character’s relationship and actions feel justified and intriguing, particularly considering the wider variety of outcomes this episode seems to contain.
Unfortunately, as a result of this dominating focus, the plot progression of the episode feels considerably slowed down, ruining any attempt at getting the player invested in the upcoming season finale from a good vs. evil point of view. The humor also feels less fitting considering the events at hand, which is only hindered further by the continually inconsistent attempts at such banter. The gameplay and environments feel equally passive, save for the usually solid action scenes. Meanwhile, the soundtrack and voice acting remain highlights of the series, and while there were no consistent technical issues throughout the episode, there was one particularly egregious set of crashes that ruined the flow of one of the chapter’s more significant moments.
Although Who Needs You provides some of the season’s most emotionally charged scenes, the episode’s inconsistency with its tone and story progression, and all-too-familiar gameplay and technical issues make for a lackluster penultimate chapter that only looks to harm the upcoming season finale. Telltale may need to find its own Eternity Forge to revive the series’ attempt at wrapping up this dysfunctional space family’s premiere story.