Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy
Developed: Eidos Montreal
Published By: Square Enix
Released: October 26, 2021
Available on: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Switch, Windows, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
ESRB Rating: T for Teen: Language, Mild Blood, Mild Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol, Violence
Number of Players: Single player
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The last thing I expected from both Marvel and Square-Enix was a game about the Guardians of the Galaxy. Prior to 2014, barely anyone knew of them and many people predicted that the movie would be the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first box office flop due to a cast of characters barely anyone knew and the actors, not exactly unknowns, but not “A-Listers” either (with the exception of Vin Diesel). Tie-in video games have mostly gone the wayside so Eidos Montreal developing a Guardians of the Galaxy game was quite the surprise to see from them as they mostly handled their own properties such as Deus Ex and Tomb Raider. But the most surprising thing is that Eidos’ GotG isn’t based on the Disney movies and does its own thing entirely.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy by Edios and Square-Enix stars Star-Lord (or Peter Quill) and his crew of misfits including Gamora, Drax the Destroyer, Rocket, and Groot. They find themselves in the Quarantine Zone looking for an elusive creature to offer to Lady Hellbender, an exotic alien collector. Not only would this give the Guardians some much-needed cash, but also establish a good word for their name, granting them the opportunity of further business. Since they are a ragtag group who are new to this whole hero thing, they fall into mishap after mishap until they find themselves tasked with saving the entire galaxy. The game begins with everyone already on the team so there are no plot points of slowly obtaining new members. The player is already thrust into the story and story beats slowly reveal what the characters did before joining together.
Eidos-Montreal did a great job with the visuals of GotG as the characters and creatures are very detailed. It employs a hyper-realistic style to the humans and human-like aliens as they all look like someone that could exist in real life. In plenty of games, the people in it can look somewhat uncanny. With GotG, I never got that feeling from any of the characters. With the aliens that look most like humans, they even touched upon some aspects of them to give an otherworldly look. I mean, they’re still mostly different colored humans, but I like the way they are portrayed.
The set pieces are also very standout as the alien worlds look exceptionally exotic. Every planet has a unique design to it and the bright usage of colors makes the environments pop out in a beautiful way. Even the obligatory snow level had some unique properties to it that it felt like the place existed on another planet. I found every world fun to experience because of the large visuals and everything that took place in the foreground and background.
Strong Points: Great set pieces with beautiful visuals; strong narrative with plenty of humorous and touching moments; Choices actually do matter
Weak Points: Some glitches with the terrain and a couple of softlocks/crashes; a few plot-progression points needed slightly development
Moral Warnings: Language ranging from “d*mn”, “h*ll”, “b*st*rd”, and “jack*ss”; fantasy violence with killing humanoid aliens and monster-like aliens; one scene with a bloodstained shirt; the Adam Warlock character is sometimes referred to as “Him”, and has a Church worshiping him; some sexual dialogue mostly at the expense of Star-Lord and how he likes to sleep around/flirt with numerous women; some of the choices made can lean towards the immoral side
GotG is a pretty linear third-person experience and it took advantage of that aspect, giving them the opportunity to make the cinematic experience and world design structurally intact. There are chapters in the story, and most chapters begin with Star-Lord, his crew, and their ship preparing for a mission/bounty. Here is where Star-Lord can interact with the other members of his team, often hearing idle dialogue when not interacted with. On the planets or in buildings, the pathways are fairly straightforward, but not always completely obvious. Star-Lord uses the scan function on his visors to either find context-sensitive paths or find out more information about his environment. Although the only character the player directly controls for the entire game is Star-Lord, he is almost always accompanied by his fellow Guardians. The other members sometimes serve for light puzzle-solving elements such as Groot using his plant-like body to make bridges, or Drax pushing heavy objects. Despite the linear progression, I did run into a couple of softlocks and terrain-based glitches.
GotG has some orchestral pieces which sound good, and plenty of licensed music due to Star-Lord’s character. He loves music from the 80s so you’ll hear plenty of songs such as “Take On Me”, “Holding Out For A Hero”, and “Kickstart My Heart”. The game even begins with “Never Gonna Give You Up” meaning that the developers Rickroll you. The voice cast also provides great portrayals too—after your mind stops trying to compare them to the movie cast. Plus, it isn’t fair to compare them to the movies in the first place as the game isn’t based on the MCU. I ended up liking all of the main cast’s delivery as they had a nice range of emotion for every funny and dramatic moment. It was also pretty cool and immersive that certain radio communications in scenes can play through the DualSense controller.
In combat, all the Guardians, when available, participate. The combat is split in three ways: one part action, one part third-person shooter, and surprisingly one part role-playing. Star-Lord has his element guns, being his primary way of inflicting damage, and uses the thrusters on his boots to jump high and dodge. There is the option of lock-on with one of the left triggers and free aiming with the right control stick. Although none of the other members can be directly controlled, Star-Lord can issue commands to them. There isn’t any level-up or class system in GotG, but your team plays specific roles in the fight. Gamora is the assassin, specializing in high single-target damage. Drax can inflict the stagger debuff to enemies leaving them stunned and taking increased damage. Rocket focuses on area-of-effect abilities such as explosives and a grav bomb grouping enemies together. Groot has utility such as entangling multiple enemies, crippling their movement.
Many enemies have certain strengths and weaknesses. Some can take a beating in battle but are very vulnerable to stagger abilities. Other enemies may even come into battle with a shield but said shield can easily be removed with the corresponding element from Star-Lord’s guns. With many enemies having specific strengths/weaknesses combined with the cooldowns on allies makes combat feel even more role-playing-like. Battles towards the end tend to lower in quality as new enemies and abilities stop being introduced long before the final chapter and even on the highest difficulty it can be a little too easy for experienced players. Even so, GotG manages to be one of those games where the combat is more fun to play with than it is to watch, and I feel that has to do with how Star-Lord controls in battle. He is very snappy and responsive and has a good flow to his movement. It all comes together with the Huddle Up comeback mechanic where Star-Lord rallies his team together to give a motivating speech that wouldn’t be out of place in any sports film. It’s stupid, cheesy, and completely cornball—and it brings a grin to my lips every time as it fits perfectly for the character. Blasting aliens to 80s music will never get old.
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)
Game Score – 85%
Morality Score – 63%
Sexual Content 9/10
One of the other standout features of GotG is the dialogue and narrative. There is a ton of dialogue for many situations and a lot of idle chatter that had me laughing a lot. The Guardians are a bunch of chatterboxes and will talk nearly all the time. Although some of the battle dialogue tends to repeat often, there are plenty of funny and insightful moments if you just happen to stand around. It even goes so far as to the crew making commentary whenever Star-Lord goes off the beaten path to find collectibles, poking fun of said trope. The Guardians are a motley crew and the hundreds of interactions follow that aspect. They bicker often, they tease each other, but they care for one another (or at least grow into that aspect), even though they seldom admit that fact. There are plenty of moments that call back to previous plot points and even some things that happen in the comics. Some plot progression needed a bit more development to present a better flow but only manages to be a minor setback. There is a great sense of synergy between the characters and voice cast for nearly every piece of dialogue uttered.
At first, I was pretty skeptical when I heard Eidos and Square-Enix claiming that “your choices matter”, as in most cases, that’s a load of bologna. I can safely report that your choices actually do matter in the game, and the game also autosaves at certain points so you can’t reliably savescum either. The endings are mostly the same with slight differences depending on the choices made in the beginning and middle, but that isn’t what I’m talking about. Depending on your choices, entire chapters can play out differently or can make certain sections easier/harder. It was very nice to see that they weren’t lying after being lied to by other companies for years.
When it comes to morality, there are aspects to point out given the nature. The Guardians of the Galaxy, although overall good guys, were all previously criminals with a long list of reasons as to why they were wanted fugitives. They do the good thing and save people, but are willing to commit crimes such as fraud, robbery, and murder to do so. Some of the dialogue and narrative choices reflect these aspects. With violence, there is the aspect of killing alien entities and one moment where Star-Lord’s mom, Meredith Quill, is shot and killed in a flashback clutching her bloodstained shirt in the place where she was shot. Language, mostly consists of “d*mn”, “h*ll”, “b*st*rd”, and jack*ss”. There is also the fantasy space swearing term, “flark”, which honestly is used as a substitute for a lot of words. There is some sexual dialogue, mostly having to do with Star-Lord’s tendency to flirt and sleep with women. The closet thing to sexual content would probably be Lady Hellbender. She is in what is essentially a leotard, but it isn’t portrayed in a “sexy” way (there are a few scenes in which the camera angle shows off part of her butt.) In one chapter in the setting Knowhere, there is a bar that can be entered where many characters can be seen drinking. The Adam Warlock character is a complicated one, as a good chunk of the narrative focuses on the Universal Church of Truth and their worship of the man. They sometimes refer to Warlock as “Him” or “Golden God.” The Church also serves as an antagonist and have abilities that are borderline occult in nature, dubbed faith energy.
History has seemed to repeat itself and the culprit remains the same: The Avengers. Whereas people thought the GotG movie would bomb and flop because of how great The Avengers is, people thought that Eidos/Square-Enix’s attempt at GotG would bomb too, but that was because of how disappointing The Avengers game was to most, as well as both games coming out “way too late after the Marvel craze.” I always believe, and it paid off. Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy ended up being a very solid licensed video game with great visuals, great sound direction, and a great narrative about a group of unlikely heroes who come together due to tragedy and grief. It even portrays an interesting insight on how to cope with grief and what could happen if it’s handled in unhealthy ways. The morality is mostly similar to the MCU movies so if you’re okay with those, you’ll most likely be okay with this game too.
Most people who enjoy either the comics or the movies will get a lot of enjoyment out of its 20 or so hour story and references many classic and modern Marvel characters/stories. It has already gone on sale for more than half off so those waiting for a permanent price drop shouldn’t have to wait that long. The new game+ option unlocks after completion to tinker with the custom difficulty settings and trying out other narrative choices.The experience reminds me of the video games of old, but in a good way. The experience Is straightforward—it begins and ends all within the game. No sequel baiting or trying to sell future DLC. It just feels so right.