Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series, Episode 1: Tangled Up in Blue carries the weight of both the Marvel films and previous Telltale games with it – for better and worse.
Episode 1: Tangled Up in Blue highlights the five core Guardians present in the films, and clearly models their personalities off the film characters. However, they are visually altered as to not be exact copies while still being recognizable to their film counterparts. Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax the Destroyer, Rocket Raccoon, and Groot are voiced by actors not involved with the film, but they intentionally make vocal inflections reminiscent of the original actors. Star-Lord doesn’t look like Chris Pratt, but he wears a nearly identical maroon duster. Drax, on the other hand, is visually more similar to some of his comic book incarnations while speaking more like Dave Bautista would as the character.
These similarities may come off as unoriginal, but they serve a purpose. The characters and their origins have been established in two Marvel films, so the Telltale series doesn’t waste a moment telling you who these guys are. Instead, they focus on the relationships between characters, assuming the audience is already caught up. The producers of the game have said as much. This may not work in the favor of players unfamiliar with the films, or even the comics, but it’s a decision that allows players to dig right into the heart of the story. Or, in many cases, right into the heart of the characters.
In Episode 1: Tangled Up in Blue, the Guardians manage to defeat an infamous foe within the first ten minutes. It comes as a shock and makes the player wonder what’s left in store for the rest of the series. Instead of focusing on this one enemy, the plot has more room to explore the characters. As previously announced, each episode will revolve around a specific Guardian – conveniently, there are five characters and five chapters. Who would’ve guessed?
In Episode 1, it’s all about Star-Lord. It’s about his memories of his mother. It’s about how he’s supposed to keep the Guardians together without any one Big-Bad-Evil-Person uniting them for another battle. Like any Tell-Tale game, the player’s choices will please one Guardian but hurt another. Star-Lord can’t make everyone happy, but he’ll try his best to keep them together. Or not – it’s really up to you. It’s the start of an interesting story, and it’s enough to keep us wanting more.
Episode 1: Tangled Up in Blue‘s gameplay is exactly what you’d expect from a Telltale game at this point. The player makes decisions at various points in the narrative. They respond to quicktime events during action sequences. They explore small environments in a restricted manner. Were this game released five years ago, enthusiasm for it would be through the roof. But unfortunately, like every Telltale game that has followed the critically acclaimed The Walking Dead: Season 1, it’s not quite as exciting as it could be. It tells a great story, but it’s retreading old ground. Nothing in Episode 1 has jumped out at us or excited us from a gameplay perspective.
And, like all the other games running on Telltale Tool (Telltale’s proprietary game engine), it’s riddled with visual hiccups that are inexcusable. It doesn’t matter if the game looks like a budget PS3/Xbox 360 title; it shouldn’t have Rocket disappear in the middle of a line and stay invisible for the remainder of a scene. It shouldn’t be dropping to a noticeably low frame late when there’s nothing graphically intensive on screen. And it most certainly shouldn’t take more than a few seconds to load new environments when they aren’t technically taxing. Though none of these problems break the game, it’s insane that even an updated version of Telltale Tool is performing this poorly. Telltale’s CEO recently left the company, citing “aggressive” expansion as his reason for leaving – if they want to keep pushing out multiple, big name IP like this, they’d better start differentiating their games and fixing these bugs.
But we’re still excited for more
Just like Episode 1: Tangled Up in Blue‘s subtitle suggests, there’s a focus on music in this Telltale Series (it’s a Bob Dylan song, for anyone not familiar). It’s a fun connection with the two films’ excellent sound tracks, and the rest of the episodes have subtitles named after classic songs as well. It’s also a somber episode, with a cool, bluish color palette that sets the tone. And it’s the small things like this that, ultimately, make us excited for what’s in store. The characters have become a part of the collective pop-culture consciousness, and the story takes them places we haven’t seen. Here’s to Telltale ironing out some of their technical issues before the remaining episodes release over the coming months.
Once all of Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series is out in the wild, we’ll give our final verdict. Until then, we will continue playing through each episode as they are released and give your our hot takes. In the meantime, keep an eye on The Game Fanatics for all your gaming news and reviews.