Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy Episode 3: More Than A Feeling. Review
Sony PlayStation 4Also available on Android, PC, iPad, iPhone and Microsoft Xbox One
This review may contain SPOILERS for the previous episodes of Guardians of the Galaxy!
The middle child in Telltale’s foray into the Marvel Cinematic Universe is where the series needed to step up. The second episode failed to move the story on in any meaningful way, with the intrigue about the resurrection properties of the Eternity Forge cast aside in favour of Rocket’s backstory. While we appreciated the fleshing out of a rather one-note character, it was done in sacrifice to the main plot arc, and unfortunately More Than A Feeling makes the same mistake, albeit with another member of the crew in a far more superficial manner.
As we delve deeper into young Peter’s relationship with his dying mother, Gamora’s history with (and betrayal by) her sister Nebula is also explored. This isn’t a coincidence, as it turns out — the memories the Guardians are experiencing are all down to the interference of Mantis, an empath who manipulated them into setting her free. What follows is another hour of kitchen sink melodrama before a goal is settled upon, where the crew bicker amongst themselves about the right thing to do with the Eternity Forge. It seems that the cost of using the device to bring back the dead is a high one, but it’s a price that Rocket and Drax are willing to pay to return their respective loved ones. But is it a sentiment that Peter shares?
Gamora, in particular, gets short shrift here. As a largely humourless character, making her the focus of this episode when all she seems to do is pick fights feels like a mistake. At times, you often find yourself siding with Nebula — and that’s a sure sign of writing in need of an adrenaline shot.
It isn’t an entirely po-faced affair, of course, being a Guardians game. Drax, having been sidelined for most of Under Pressure has a few witty one-liners which raise a chuckle, and there’s a wonderful montage with Mantis trying to concentrate on the location of the crew’s next location whilst the entire ship is rigged up to distract her.
But then you reach your destination and realise that not only is it yet another temple — a fact that Rocket makes an on-the-nose comment about, perhaps as way of apology from Telltale — but it’s a temple with yet more puzzles involving statues. At this point, it feels like the developer isn’t even trying. Once again, you’ll use your scanner to find out what happened in the area, just like Tangled Up in Blue. And once again, you’ll be left with a cliffhanger that feels unsatisfactory whatever your answer is to the game’s final question.
With it being a Telltale adventure, you’re also in line for a variety of bugs depending on your flavour of platform. The PS4 version reviewed here included a panning shot that stuttered like a glitching Matrix, and a walk toward a statue which involved Peter performing more u-turns than a politician. It seems that no matter how far forward we travel, the developer still cannot find enough oil for its creaking engine.
For the moments that the game captures the essence of Marvel’s quirky film series, it feels like Telltale have control of a wonderful IP, replete with all of the fast-paced action sequences and dashes of sly humour that make it zing on the big screen. The 80s tunes mesh perfectly with its oddball cast and pop colours. Yet without the drive of a truly engaging story, it suffers in comparison to the films. Volume 2 may have been a bit of a bloated mess in the wake of its surprise hit predecessor, but it at least pushed Peter’s story forward. Six hours into the franchise’s gaming spin-off, we are no more knowledgeable about the game’s ultimate goal than when we started. Hala is a truly dreadful villain in comparison to Thanos, and her mortal wounding of Peter previously served no purpose other than to show players that, yes, she’s a bad person. But seriously — who was ever going to buy into Star-Lord being killed off?
When there is little narrative focus, you are instead left to find enjoyment in the gameplay and banter between the cast, and here there are slim pickings. There are only so many times you can jab an analogue stick in a prompted direction to dodge an attack — or not, since the game is overly lenient if you miss a number of prompts and carries on regardless. Combined with a crew who sound like they’d rather be anywhere else doing anything else, by the time the credits roll you’ll have found yourself wondering exactly how the game can sustain another two episodes.