Fans all knew that the impending Guardians of the Galaxy season finale would represent an extended break for adventures starring the beloved Marvel space crew, but today’s news may indicate a more troubling future. For those who haven’t heard, Telltale has announced that they have reduced their overall staffing by 25%, with a renewed focus on “delivering fewer, better games with a smaller team.” While the press release confirmed that this would have no effect on any of Telltale’s previously announced or ongoing projects, there had been no news up to this point on any future plans for the studio’s take on Guardians of the Galaxy, leaving the status of this particular series up in the air. This unfortunate news also puts a lot of pressure on this season’s finale, Don’t Stop Believin’, as its level of quality could end up being what makes or breaks this series’ chances at a second season. While Don’t Stop Believin’ doesn’t quite go above and beyond like other Telltale season finales have, it still represents a solid closing episode for the inconsistent premiere Guardians of the Galaxy season.
While the remainder of the review will not address any spoilers for “Don’t Stop Believin’”, 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”, “More Than a Feeling” and “Who Needs You.”
Who Needs You’s final scene saw various members of the Guardians heading their separate ways, voluntarily or otherwise as the player’s choices up to this point seemed to be having a major effect on how the season finale would play out. Unfortunately, the scenes that follow in this fifth episode don’t do much to take advantage of the serious nature of that conclusion, instead going out of its way to dispute some of these decisions to set up for this episode’s own climactic finale. These story beats feel a tad more predictable than in episodes past, but they nonetheless lead to a satisfying conclusion with some cool sequences that highlight each member’s unique characteristics. The writing and dialogue remain strong during both the uplifting and more serious moments, providing a quip-filled episode with plenty of heart to back it up, even if it never really goes anywhere all that original.
The gameplay in this episode leaves quite a bit to be desired, with just one brief exploration sequence to separate the more frequent talking and action scenarios. The lack of substantial new environments in which these scenes take place in can probably be pointed to as the main reasoning behind this missing piece, but it feels like more of an oddity than any sort of significant hindrance. Speaking of hindrances, there were none of the usual Telltale technical hiccups to disrupt this episode, which may no longer feel like a necessary inclusion for every Telltale review due to the studio’s recent change in direction. Meanwhile, the game’s soundtrack continues to play an expectedly important part in the season finale, remaining as the series’ one consistent high point throughout the past 7 months.
Don’t Stop Believin’ feels stretched out, but ultimately plays out as an enjoyable finale filled with humor and heart. If this does end up being the final appearance of Telltale’s take on the Guardians of the Galaxy, it’ll be reassuring to know that the season ended on a high note (in more ways than one), while still leaving an open door for the dysfunctional space family to return in the future.