Marvel struck gold when it chose to adapt the ragtag group of characters that formed the Guardians of the Galaxy comic into a feature film. All of the characters weren’t well known to the casual comic book or Marvel fan base, and having them form a team turned into one of the best ideas for Marvel Comics in the past decade. Although the first episode of Telltale Games’ latest episodic series is based on the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, it is closely tied to the comic book series and not the 2014 film or the upcoming sequel. However, releasing the first episode a mere couple of weeks before Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 releases was definitely a deliberate marketing strategy. Not to mention, some personality from the movies seems to have crept into the characters as well. With that said, Tangled up in Blue is one of the best-opening episodes across all of their previously released IPs.
Character interaction has always been a hallmark of their games, and in Episode One, the game focuses on Peter Quill, who you may also know as the legendary outlaw Star-Lord. It doesn’t take long before the game’s action-packed opening sends us along a course that will forever shake the team to their foundation. There are certainly a few surprises along the way, but Tangled up in Blue shines by setting the stage for the rest of the series. That’s not to say that nothing happens, as some colossal events do occur. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I can promise you I didn’t see the outcome coming for at least two of them.
We get a better look into Peter’s past, and his relationship with this mother, who you do get to have some interesting dialogue choices with that may have an outcome in later episodes. Rocket Racoon, the weapon and technology expert of the group, is growing tired of his role and decides he is only doing things for the money, and Gamera who happens to have changed her ways, elects to be lawfully good. Considering the varying points of view, it doesn’t take long before contention between the crew occurs, and you are stuck in the middle, forced to pick a side. The other two characters, Groot and Drax, don’t have much of a role in this episode.
Telltale’s game engine has already been showing its age and is certainly well overdue for some upgrades. While I found the texture work and characters to be pleasing, the stuttering/hitching that has plagued their games for quite some time is still prevalent. When it has been improved since the first couple seasons of The Walking Dead, we shouldn’t shouldn't see the sheer amount of stuttering every time the scene changes. While it wasn’t a detriment to the gameplay, it became more of an annoyance that the screen froze ever so slightly during action scenes. The game is certainly more geared towards action than previous titles, and you’ll be pulling the trigger for Star-Lords weapons against dozens of enemies, using your rocket-powered boots, and performing quick time events. His time scanner, seen during the opening of the movie, comes into play as well, allowing you to do a little bit of detective work. You're also able to use your voice communication devices to chat with the rest of the crew while you are epxloring. It's a neat touch that adds to the enjoyment of the game, espeically hearing the characters bantar back and forth.
Telltale games are all about narrative choices and living with the consequences. Episode One does tend to feel linear, especially after multiple playthroughs led to the same conclusion, however that doesn't mean your choices won’t change things in later episodes. There are a handful of major choices that should affect the overall narrative. There are also a bunch of easter eggs regarding the universe and characters outside of the Guardians that some may miss if they rush through the game. With that said, the old-school music selections in the game is enjoyable, as well as some good voice acting with some funny dialogue sequences.
Note: The Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy - Episode 1: Tangled up in Blue review is based on a digital PlayStation 4 copy of the game, provided by the publisher.