In Episode 1 and Episode 2 of Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series, we found fault with the game’s technical shortcomings and lack of narrative payoff. Well, Episode 3: More Than a Feeling still looks and plays like a game that could have come out of Telltale five years ago, but its story is finally starting to take shape.
The first two episodes felt like all the player was doing was trying to make choices in desperation to keep the Guardians together. In More Than a Feeling, Star-Lord finally starts to see his crew unite because of these choices. And what’s more, the story is beginning to look like its own original narrative, rather than a simple piggyback off of what the Marvel Cinematic Universe already created.
The episode begins with a young Peter Quill (Star-Lord before he’s Star-Lord) in a record shop. He either promises his mother that he’ll behave himself and stop getting into fights, or be a bit more defiant. Then, immediately testing the player’s resolve, Peter chooses whether or not to fight a bully making fun of his dying mother. Peter may have said he’d stop, but not hitting the “punch the bully” choice is trying. Luckily, Mrs. Quill intervenes and gives us some satisfying retribution.
The weight of choices affecting later choices is even more apparent when Star-Lord dives in to one of Gamora’s memories. In the memory, Gamora spars with her sister Nebula, and the two take down an enemy of their father, Thanos. These scenes show how their love for each other quickly turned sour. It seems pretty clear-cut that Nebula was in the wrong and she’s the reason their relationship went astray, but when Star-Lord dives into her memories, you see a totally different side of the story. You even get to see Gamora making the choices you made earlier, and it creates some oddly satisfying deja-vu.
And that’s what this episode really boils down to – a series of oddly satisfying moments. The new fan-favorite character Mantis (who appeared in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2) shows up for some much-needed levity. Her ability to read each Guardian’s emotions and her naïve reactions to them takes the player’s mind off the serious decisions that need to be made in the episode.
Though the Infinity Forge present in the first two episodes can be restored and bring back Star-Lord, Drax, and Rocket’s loved ones from the dead, it requires the death of someone else to do so. Does the player appease his or her fellow Guardians, or do they destroy the object capable of great evil? As always, it’s up to Star-Lord, but hey – at least there’s a montage of the Guardians, Nebula, and Mantis rocking out to the 1973 hit “Shambala” by Three Dog Night on their way to making the decision. It’s odd. And funny. It’s the Guardians of the Galaxy.
Falling Apart Together?
But the good times can only roll for so long. As hard as the player tries to keep everything together, the Guardians are quickly back at each other’s throats, and we were back at the game’s glitchy throat too! As we became more entertained by the group’s interactions with one another, we couldn’t help but get frustrated at the same technical cracks that permeated the first two episodes. It still looks unforgivably dated. There were still moments that assets disappeared then reappeared for no reason. There were still load times that should be nearly non-existent for how simple of a game this is.
Guardians is at its best when it just lets the player make choices and follow along with the story. When More Than a Feeling goes to yet another temple, a sense of tedium returns to the game. Star-Lord can examine the ruins, scan broken statues to discover fallen parts, and unravel what happened there in the past. But it controls like an R/C car stuck in a tar pit. It’s slow, and it breaks the game’s pace faster than you can say “I am Groot.”
Pulling It Together
Still, even though our complaints about the game’s technical performance are as prevalent as ever, we still want to see where the story goes. The narrative felt like it was treading old ground in the first two episodes. But, thankfully, it’s hit a groove in this midway point. There are still two episodes left to see if the Guardians can keep it together, and until the season is finished, our final judgments remain reserved.
Stay tuned for our impressions of episodes 4 and 5, as well as the final review of the game. For all your gaming news and reviews, keep an eye on The Game Fanatics.