Guardians of the Galaxy is the game I wish last year’s Marvel’s Avengers was. I really liked Avengers, but there were a few glaring issues with the core gameplay mechanics that the developers never overcame. Guardians of the Galaxy does away with the grindy gameplay loop and focuses on fleshing out the relationships of a smaller but equally ambitious cast.
AT A GLANCE
GENRE: Action, Adventure
PUBLISHER: Square Enix
RELEASE DATE: 26 Oct 2021
FINAL SCORE: 8/10
Eidos Montreal’s experience with delivering dialogue-heavy and story-rich experiences show with Guardians of the Galaxy. The story is an absolute rollercoaster from start to finish. Even though it is very much clear that this is a different team than the one popularized by the MCU, the Guardians are just as charming as ever.
You play as Peter Quill, AKA Star-Lord, the leader of the Guardians of the Galaxy – a ragtag gang of reluctant heroes. Following a series of events that totally did not involve any illegal activities, the Guardians find themselves in a high stake cosmic adventure. Since you see the story through the eyes of Peter, the narrative becomes much more personal.
Even though the story is linear, there’s a lot of choices involved that can lead to different branches. You still end up the same at the same destination but the journey to get there can end up being wildly different from each other.
The dialogue is really well written and the pacing is absolutely spot on, and there’s a lot of optional dialogue outside of the story events that make the story feel more natural and entertaining. The humorous banter made me want to just stand around and listen to the team go on and on about their adventures or sarcastically poke fun at each other. It was an absolutely fun-filled 18 hours that I spent with the story and there’s a lot of fun easter eggs that both fans of the comics and movies will enjoy.
You spend most of the missions getting from point A to B but there’s a lot of distractions on your way to your destination, and exploration is always rewarded. It could be a bit of extra lore or some conversation with your teammates or an elusive costume.
The costumes deserve a special mention because they are faithfully recreated from various comic book events as well as the movie, and have a bit of lore written with them to explain the story behind that costume. I absolutely loved hunting around for them, and aside from the awesome combat, collecting all of these was the primary reason I immediately jumped back in after finishing my first playthrough.
The combat is really well done as well, and although you will only be directly controlling Peter, you can issue orders to the other guardians and make use of their special skills. These can range from Rockets explosive bombs to Drax’s stunning attacks, and each one has a unique strategical advantage in battle. Peter himself has access to 4 special abilities that can be used to take down bad guys easier. When things get especially hard and the guardians get knocked out of the battle, you can call a huddle to bring your team back on their feet.
The availability of so many options during combat gave me a huge amount of freedom on how I wanted to beat the living lights out of my enemies. Even though combat never got overwhelmingly hard, there was just enough pressure to keep me on my toes and manage the skills of the guardians strategically during the heat of battle. Chaining together satisfying combos to take down overwhelming amounts of enemies never got old, and running into challenging fights was especially fun because you got to truly test your strategies and push the team to their limits.
You can upgrade Peter’s equipment by spending crafting materials at Rocket’s bench as well as upgrade and unlock new skills from XP earned during battles. The upgrade system isn’t too deep but it’s satisfying and rewards you for your victories and exploration.
Because the levels were mostly linear and not open world, Eidos did an absolutely fantastic job with the level design and every area feels handcrafted and unique. There’s no invisible wall holding you back, instead, a slightly larger gap between two platforms might prevent you from going too far off the path or a crashed spaceship might block your path off, and as a result the game still retains its aura of mystery and adventure while making sure players don’t wander off.
The levels also make use of the guardians unique abilities, and will often require you to instruct your teammates in order to overcome an environmental obstacle. Whether it’s using Rocket to hack into a locked door or making Drax move a heavy object so that you can use it to jump up.
The best thing about Guardian’s of the Galaxy aside from the fantastic dialogue is the awesome choice of soundtrack. Star Lord’s passion for music is something that was highlighted throughout the comics and movies, and the game is no different. From Iron Maiden to A-ha, there’s some really good music to listen to in this game.
The performances done by the cast are really good as well, although I suspect that people who have been introduced to the guardians thanks to the MCU movies might feel a bit thrown off by the personalities of some of the members. It’s important to keep in mind that the team here has met under different circumstances in a different universe.
Finally, from a visual standpoint, Guardians of the Galaxy is gorgeous. It’s got a colorful palette that suits the tone and atmosphere set by the game, combined with stunning and varied world design. However, I did run into the occasional bugs here and there, including one that made me reload my save because a cutscene would not trigger.