Guardians Of The Galaxy: Tangled Up In Blue
Android, iOS, PC, PS4, Xbox One
Aclose-up shot of a Walkman; a ’70s rock standard on the soundtrack; a tableau of the eponymous heroes clambering over one another to grab a shiny MacGuffin. Though it’s ostensibly based on the Guardians Of The Galaxy comics, the title screen immediately makes it clear that Telltale’s latest will hew closely to the aesthetics and tone of the 2014 movie and its imminent sequel. The choice of song is telling: ELO’s Livin’ Thing was set to feature in James Gunn’s perky comic-book adaptation, but the scene was left on the cutting-room floor. It’s an apt pick for a game that often feels as if it’s been assembled from alternative takes that weren’t quite good enough to make the final edit.
Telltale evokes the source material in superficial ways: the characters and settings just about look the part, though flat art direction and lighting give the whole thing a curiously cut-price feel. For a developer whose work is so steeped in the visual language of cinema, you’d think Telltale would be better at blocking and editing by now, but its action scenes are sloppily constructed, despite one or two inventive flourishes. Conceptually, these set-pieces are fine, but the execution is lacking. Even weaving and shooting your way through an asteroid field fails to raise the pulse.
Though you’ll briefly control other members of the group during an extended QTE fight, you’ll spend most of your time as Star-Lord, aka Peter Quill. An early investigation introduces two new ideas: Quill can make radio contact with the other Guardians in a similar fashion to Firewatch, while the D-pad activates the jets in his heels to hover between floors at defined points. Otherwise it’s business as usual, as Telltale again strains to find ways to give the player meaningful involvement. Too often actions are arbitrarily handed to you seemingly because you haven’t been given much to do in a while. You’ll feel as if you’re directing a sleepy actor, or manually cranking a projector to keep the action rolling.
As ever, it’s clear the developer is more at home during dialogue exchanges, even if role-playing as a character within a group whose dynamics are wellestablished means certain responses feel out of place. Still, three cheers for Nolan North, whose take on Rocket Raccoon is comfortably the pick of the performances; he mightn’t be doing much different to Bradley Cooper, but North’s natural comic timing elevates the material. But despite his efforts, a couple of big laughs (the world’s slowest lift; Drax’s sincere literalism) and at least one genuine surprise, you’re left with a gnawing sensation that Telltale’s formula is becoming as creaky as its engine. And that’s a feeling on which you’re unlikely to get hooked.
Few of your decisions have appreciable payoffs, though a key choice risks antagonising a member of the group. There are strong hints that Star-Lord may face a struggle to keep the gang together as the story progresses