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Guardians of the Galaxy recap: 'Tangled Up In Blue'
Guardians of the Galaxy A Telltale Series | Episode 1 | 'Tangled Up In Blue' | Released April 18, 2017
In the last few years, Telltale has been more comfortable adapting existing IP than any other video game developer in existence. The only other developer that has even come close has been Traveller's Tales, the company behind the LEGO games. But they always have to put their distinct LEGO spin on every story they pick up. Telltale has been able to make each game feel unique and has been able to improve their process as time has gone on. As a consequence Guardians of the Galaxy, their latest installment, is right on target for the characters and is Telltale's best game yet.
Helping The Nova Corps Fight Thanos
"I helped her out of a jam I guess, but I used a little too much force."
The game opens with Star-Lord and the rest of the Guardians onboard the Milano receiving a distress call from the Nova Corps. Thanos, The Mad Titan, is attacking the galaxy and the Nova Corps need back up. The player is given a litany of different dialogue options that impact how future interactions with the Nova Corps will go, but the result no matter what is that the Guardians will be going to fight Thanos.
This is the first point where it's important to remember that this game does not take place inside of the MCU timeline where the movies and TV shows take place. The game is a stand-alone work. Parts of the game don't even line up with the first Guardians movie. So while the MCU movie timeline is building up to a showdown with Thanos sometimes in either 2018 or 2019, this particular video game is jumping right into it.
What doesn't change between the movie, the comics, and this video game is the urge each individual Guardian of the Galaxy feels to kill Thanos. The Mad Titan has wronged each of them, particularly Drax and Gamora, and they are eager for their revenge. So, after Star-Lord crash lands on the planet which Thanos is attacking, and Rocket reveals that he has a gun big enough to blow up a small moon, the team agrees it's time to go take Thanos down.
The game was advertised as an opportunity to play as each of the members of the team, and Telltale delivers on that promise right off the bat in the first episode. But it isn't surprising that a vast majority of the gameplay time is dedicated to playing as Star-Lord, the de facto leader of the team. He explores an ancient Kree Temple and finds a way to get his friends in through the door and down to where Thanos is.
Combat has always been where Telltale has struggled. In Guardians they still rely on the same screen-prompt based combat system they used in Batman but switching between characters throughout the fight added to the excitement of the battle. There were also some moments that felt more fluid. Free firing Star-Lords lasers, for example, seemed like something out of a more traditional combat system. On-screen prompts are the expectation for a Telltale game though, and the fact that this was Telltale's best combat yet is just a plus.
The fight resolves itself when Star-Lord uses Rocket's gun to blow a gigantic hole in Thanos' chest. The team is as shocked as the player, expecting Thanos to be the main villain of the five episode game arc. But has he lays there dead, with Rocket kicking him over and over before finally exposing himself to the late Mad Titan, it becomes very clear that Thanos is in fact dead. So, taking his body and the artifact he was hunting in hand, the team only sees one thing to do.
Celebrating Victory at Knowhere
"All the time he was alone, the past was close behind."
When the team returns to their home base at Knowhere, the gameplay becomes much more characteristically Telltale. Star-Lord walks around the party, talking to all his teammates, making decisions on what to say and how to respond to certain prompts. In what has become Telltale's signature style, small messages in the corner remind the player that "Drax will remember that" after certain significant dialogue choices are made. After circulating all around the room and talking with Drax, Rocket, Groot, and Gamora, Star-Lord - who is drinking out of the valuable artifact he stole from Thanos- finds himself waking up the next morning.
Gamora tells Star-Lord there's a problem, but the details seem hazy. The team seems short on money, probably because of the party the night before. The team agrees that they should make up for the deficit by selling Thanos' body. Rocket advocates for giving it to the Collector, who is an outlaw but who will pay a lot more for it than the Nova Corps. Gamora feels the opposite way. She advocates selling Thanos to the Nova Corps to stay inside the boundaries of the law. Playing as Star-Lord, the player must decide to sell the artifact to either the Nova Corps or the Collector. The decision will impact Star Lord's relationship with Rocket and Gamora.
No matter who the player chooses to deal with though, the team is attacked by Hala the Accusor, a Kree Warrior who is after the Eternity Forge. This ancient mystic artifact that Star-Lord used as a shot glass at his party the night before has an unimaginable power. Earlier in the episode, we saw Star-Lord pick it up only to be transported back to a time when he was a boy, and his mother was still alive. Peter was quick to dismiss it as a dream out loud, but given that the player had to make real choices as past Peter, it seems like the power goes deeper than that. Now the Kree are battling with the Guardians and the Nova Corps to take it.
The Kree are victorious and Hala and her team escape with the Eternity Forge back to their ship. While making their getaway, they damage the Milano. There is only one jetpack at hand, and Star-Lord has to decide if he wants to take Drax or Gamora with him. Drax, naturally, is more excited about charging in and doing as much damage as possible. Gamora advocates for a stealthy approach. Depending on the approach the player prefers, either comrade is happy to join, and the other does not mind staying behind.
On Board The Kree Ship
I heard her say over my shoulder we'll meet again someday on the avenue
On board the Kree ship, Star-Lord finds a majority of the ship's population frozen in some kind of cryo chamber. Shutting down the power to the chambers will also reveal a ladder and unlock the door to the main hallway. Both give the player access to Hala on the deck of the Revenant.
On the ship's main deck, Hala is now the one holding the Eternity Forge and talking to a long dead relative. But she seems more aware than Star-Lord was when he had the same experience. She immediately snaps out of it and psychically sends her spear hurling towards the player's chosen companion. In classic villain style, Hala explains that the Eternity Forge can be used to bring people back from the dead. She goes on to explain that whoever holds the Eternity Forge can kill someone, and then bring someone else back to life. The Kree have mostly died out as a race, but Hala plans to reincarnate them.
Rocket and the team swoop in with the ship and blow out the wall of the deck, saving Star-Lord and his companion. But Hala has already injured them both, and Star-Lord is close to death. As the two float in space, Star-Lord clutching the Eternity Forge, we flashback to Peter's childhood once more.
This time, the young Star-Lord is at his mother's funeral. He is met by Yondu- a version that matches the version of the character from the movies. Yondu tells Peter that he was entrusted to look after Peter if anything ever happened to his mom. The player has to decide if he trusts Yondu or not, but he ends up going with him either way. Then the fully grown Star-Lord stands in the middle of the church. His mother appears behind him, and they exchange a few words. Then Star-Lord's mom puts her hand on his chest where he was wounded, and he snaps back to life instantly.
What do you think are the secrets of the Eternity Forge? Could this actually be the end of Thanos? How will the Guardians be tested in the future? What is your favorite Telltale game? Let us know in the comments and be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook for all our Guardians of the Galaxy updates.
Guardians of the Galaxy A Telltale Series is available on Steam, PC, the Mac App Store, and PS4