Going Lazily Where Every Tell Tale Game Has Gone Before
Guardians of the Galaxy (GotG)is the five millionth licensed release from the perpetual motion machine that is Tell Tale Games. The studio became most famous for their adaptation of the Walking Dead which lead them to higher franchise opportunities like Game of Thrones and now Marvel Comics GotG. In many regards GotG is a crowning achievement for the developer because its free from many of the bugs and glitches that I’ve encountered in almost all of their games but in practically every other facet it’s a boring affair.
I’ll get the standard discussion about the engine Tell Tale uses for their games out of the way up front; it is noticeably the same. Characters still look like lifeless Claymation action figures who robot their way through scenes. Sometimes this is because the game falls victim to poor editing and transitions to the next scene but it’s a problem almost every TT game suffers from. Unlike other games TT has released in the past few years I experienced very few, or at least very few noticeable, bugs and glitches.
The sound design is nothing to get into. There is licensed music (more on that later) scattered throughout but the game has the same TT problem of weird editing decisions that border on “is this game messing up?” Music will cut out at the oddest time to where there’s absolutely no music or ambient sound. The voice acting is also nothing to write home about.
You already know how these games play. Too call them “modern adventure games” is an insult to the genre. These games are just a half step past narrative only games like Gone Home and Firewatch. You talk to some people, you go through quick time events, and maybe you do something that could barely be described as a puzzle. You're here for story, so much so that I sometimes wonder why they bother with some of the action that they do.
The story is…whatever. In terms of character design it’s a mix of the current comics and the James Gunn films but in terms of tone TT is 100% trying to emulate James Gunn’s style and its apparent they cannot. If imitation is the highest form of flattery then James Gunn should be super flattered. TT apparently came into this title with one idea: do what James Gunn did but its apparent that easier said than done. Simply throwing a rock song form 70s into an action scene came off as lazy. I was slack jawed at times with how brazen they were in trying to ape JG’s style from those films, especially when this game has no ties to the MCU or the movies.
In many cases I was actually mad at this game because of how heavy handed everything is. TT’s weakest part of their writing is that every decision comes down to “OK, who are you going to piss off?” GotG is almost the epitome of that style of writing/design. Every single decision has someone wanting to jump down your throat and threaten to quit the team. I was texting a friend, who was also playing through the same episodes, asking if I was crazy and he was thinking the same; it is bad writing. In many cases a decision would come up where it comes off “why can I not do both of these things?” OH, because TT needs to lazily get me to where one person hates me and the other one likes me. I expected way more from this game since it came from the Tales from the Borderlands writing team.
“Sammo21 will remember that”
At the end of the day, I’m not sure why I keep trying these. Sometimes there is a pleasant surprise (Tales from the Borderlands, TT best game imo) but largely they are pumping out games that feel lazy from both a narrative perspective and from the technical side too. As much as layoffs suck this might be good for the company as a whole. They need new tech and they need a new design philosophy because their current stuff just isn’t getting them anywhere. This game disappointed me as a Marvel comics fan, an MCU fan, and a person who enjoys video games.
note: I played this on PS4. At the time of writing I have completed episodes 1-5, the entire "first season".