Impressions: Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy – Episode One: Tangled Up in Blue
There’s a brief moment in the opening scene of Telltale’s Guardians of the Galaxy series where Star-Lord hits play on his cassette player and starts dancing to “Why Can’t I Touch It” by the Buzzcocks. It’s a clear nod to the opening of the first Guardians movie, but, due to some really stiff character animation, it doesn’t quite produce the desired effect. It makes sense that Telltale’s Guardians series, despite having no ties to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, would aim to capture the same vibes from the first movie, but that’s a tough act to follow and only leads to this first episode feeling a bit like a direct-to-DVD version of this unlikely crew.
Having been through the Telltale routine many times before, I have to say that the first hour of “Tangled Up in Blue” mostly left me optimistic, if not downright impressed. Sure, there were a few awkward moments that could use more polish, but on the whole it felt like a decent attempt at adapting the cinematic version of the Guardians of the Galaxy to the Telltale format. It even culminates in a really well done fight with Thanos that ultimately serves as the backbone to the events that will unfold throughout the series. From there the pace slows down a bit and the rest of the episode essentially lays the groundwork for much of what’s to follow. Here, the game starts to focus on specific character moments, giving a number of 1-on-1 scenes between different members of the Guardians crew, and even digging into a bit of Star-Lord’s past. Specifically, it seems like Telltale is set to explore Peter Quill’s relationship with his mother, which could prove to be a strong point for the series going forward. With so much setup, it’s hard to say much about where the story will lead, but there are at least a few interesting plot lines introduced that have the potential to be quite interesting going forward. Unfortunately, despite a pretty good opening, there’s still a number of issues present that hold me back from being too excited about what’s to come.
While this feels a bit more polished than other Telltale games, it still suffers from stiff character animations, poor lip-sync, and a few really awkward scene transitions. On top of that, the writing is generally inconsistent, with a few standout moments in a sea of jokes that mostly fall flat. There’s also a sequence early on where Star-Lord blasts open a door and the complete lack of any sort of explosion, or any added effects, just felt odd – perhaps even unfinished.
“Tangled Up in Blue” doesn’t do much to stray from the established Telltale formula. There’s a very brief segment where the game lets you explore an area using Star-Lords rocket-boots and even play detective with a Time Scanner, but these abilities feel more like afterthoughts than anything else. Which is kind of disappointing, even at a glimpse of changing things up, the game quickly retreats back to its comfort zone. At the same time, there are some genuinely interesting places that the story seems to be going in. Whether that stuff will pay off in the end is anyone’s guess, but I’m at least interested enough to see where it’ll lead. It’s a decent start to the series, the fact that I already love these characters certainly doesn’t hurt, but the aforementioned technical issues still have me feeling quite cautious for what comes next.