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Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series for Xbox One review

Telltale's games can be hit or miss. Sometimes you get a perfect combination of story and style. Other times, the studio's formulaic approach to development overshadows the final product.

With Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series, trepidation at the potential sameness must be balanced with elation at simply having a game based on Guardians at all. Marvel games have been few and far between on consoles ever since SEGA lost the Marvel license. Thankfully, we needn't have worried about this one. Telltale's Guardians delivers an awesome mix of characters and story.

When comics and movies collide

Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series (Guardians: The Telltale Series for short) is an episodic adventure game based on the popular team of heroes (and antiheroes) who battle against cosmic threats to the Marvel universe. But which iteration of the Guardians is it based on? Many characters have been part of the Guardians over the years, and one version of the team exists primarily in the far future rather than the present.

The team makeup consists of Peter Quill (Star-Lord), Gamora, Drax the Destroyer, Rocket Raccoon, and Groot – the same makeup as the film version. Clearly, these team members were chosen to appeal to the widest possible audience.

Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy the Telltale Series Episode 1 Xbox One Gamora

Despite the movie-like roster, the actual character designs are a mix of comic and movie aesthetics. Rocket looks like you'd expect (though Nolan North doesn't give him the cockney accent long imagined by comics readers). Groot (Adam Harrington)) is just Groot, as you'd hope.

Gamora (Emily O'Brien) and Drax (Brandon Paul Eells) both look like their comic counterparts. Gamora has yellow circles around her eyes, a look I much prefer to the film version's facial prosthetics. Drax has his comic-green skin and simpler red color patterns from the comics as well. His origin seems to be the movie version, in that his deceased love ones have alien names (neither of which is Moondragon).

Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy the Telltale Series Episode 1 Xbox One

Star-Lord is all movie-version, wearing an outfit that closely resembles the Chris Pratt Star-Lord. His voice actor, Scott Porter (Speed Racer), turns in a strong performance, although he lacks Pratt's limitless charisma. (So does everyone besides Chris Pratt, so you can't blame him.)

Other notable characters who appear in Episode 1 include Yondu (whose voice actor does a fair imitation of Michael Rooker), Thanos the Mad Titan, and Hala the Accuser, this episode's primary antagonist. Hala) first appeared in the comics in 2015 as one of the last survivors of the Kree empire following the destruction of the Kree Homeworld. She is a serious threat, wielding a staff that can be controlled remotely.

Episode 1: Tangled up in blue

Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy the Telltale Series Episode 1 Xbox One

Episode 1 of Guardians: The Telltale Series begins during a battle between Thanos (antagonist of the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War film) and the Nova Corps (a group of intergalactic peacekeepers) at an abandoned Kree outpost. The Guardians, who happen to be nearby, accept the Nova Corps' request for help. Unfortunately, they get there too late and all of the Novas have already been killed.

Telltale games typically feature brief segments during which you control the protagonist on foot, performing sparse environmental actions. You'll do that here as Peter Quill, the leader of the Guardians. Our hero becomes trapped within the Kree outpost and must figure out how to open a door for the rest of his team. To do this, he'll search multiple levels of a Thanos-decimated chamber, flying between them with his jet boots.

Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy the Telltale Series Episode 1 Xbox One

When the jet boots are activated, hitting up or down on the D-Pad changes the level at which you hover. You won't be flying around in 3D space like you'd do in a non-Telltale game, but at least the developers found a way to incorporate Star-Lord's boots while keeping the controls simple enough for casual players.

Peter has a few more abilities to draw upon in this episode. He can use his communicator to call specific members of the team or answer incoming calls. He also has access to a device called the Time Scanner, apparently created specifically for this episode. It emits a blue pulse that reveals recent events that have happened in the area. This proves vital to opening the door to the Kree outpost, revealing the location of an ID chip that will activate a crashed ship's gun.

Big battles ahead

Warning: This section contains minor spoilers about the general story structure of the game.

Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy the Telltale Series Episode 1 Xbox One Gamora vs Thanos

Once the team reunited inside of the building, they face off against the main man himself, Thanos. This is a surprisingly ballsy turn of events, given that the actual Guardians movie didn't even bother letting Thanos out of his chair.

The fight is action-packed, in the typical quick time event (QTE)-laden way of Telltale games. But it works here – everyone has their time to shine, and the whole thing is excellently choreographed. The fun of the fight comes from how well it's brought to life visually, as well as our investment in this lovable team of rogues.

Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy the Telltale Series Episode 1 Xbox One Hala the Accuser

The rest of the episode deals with the fallout of the big battle. Our heroes come into the possession of an ancient Kree artifact. This puts them at odds with Hala the Accuser, a more badass female equivalent to the movie's antagonist, Ronan the Accuser. Somehow, she ends up being even more of a threat than Thanos.

Besides the walking around and QTE bits, Telltale games also like to offer players choices. You'll have to make split-second conversation choices, as well as occasionally choose between one major choice or another. Things generally play out almost the same either way during conversations – it's more an illusion of choice than real choice. The major decisions have a greater impact, forcing Star-Lord to choose between supporting different members of his team as well as who will come along on a mission.

Crowd play

Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy the Telltale Series Episode 1 Xbox One

Guardians: The Telltale Series offers a very Jackbox-like feature called Crowd Play that is aimed at live streamers. When enabled, viewers can log in through a web browser and vote on the decisions that come up during the game. The primary player can choose to follow the crowd's choice or not. It's definitely a cool feature for the streaming crowd.

Achievements and episodic structure

Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy the Telltale Series Episode 1 Xbox One Achievement

The Xbox One version of Guardians: The Telltale Series features 31 Achievements worth a total of 1,000 Gamerscore. At launch, however, players can only earn six Achievements, or one for completing each chapter of the first episode. You'll get all six of them just for playing through the game, regardless of the choices you make. The whole episode takes about two hours.

Four subsequent episodes are expected to arrive in the months to come, each with its own chapter-based Achievements. To play those episodes, you'll need to either purchase them individually for $4.99 or buy the Season Pass.

Overall impression

Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy the Telltale Series Episode 1 Xbox One Star-Lord and Nova Corps

Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy is the best Telltale game since Tales from the Borderlands. The strength of these games comes from story, characters, and direction. Here, Telltale takes a terrific set of characters and puts them through an adventure that feels perfectly in line with both the movie and comic universes.

You won't find a tremendous amount of gameplay in Guardians: The Telltale Series. Like most recent Telltale games, it's more of an interactive movie than a traditional game. But that interactive movie is one that Guardians fans should love, at least during this first episode. Hopefully the rest of the series can maintain this same sense of adventure and bravado.

Pros:

  • Feels like a real Guardians of the Galaxy adventure.
  • Finally, we get to see the Guardians take the fight to Thanos.

Cons:

  • The same old Telltale formula means no puzzles or challenge.
  • The song that plays during the main menu and credits, "Livin' Thing" by E.L.O., is no substitute for "Hooked on a Feeling" or any of the movie music.

Guardians: The Telltale Series will be available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Steam starting on May 2, 2017. The first episode will cost $4.99. Subsequent episodes will also cost $4.99, or you can get them bundled via Season Pass.

Xbox One review code provided by the publisher.

Paul Acevedo is the Games Editor at Windows Central. A lifelong gamer, he has written about videogames for over 15 years and reviewed over 350 games for our site. Follow him on Twitter @PaulRAcevedo. Don’t hate. Appreciate!

31 Comments
  • Tell tale games shouildn't be even called "games." they should be called "what to do with your money if you don't have a match to burn it handy"
  • Or perhaps you have the capacity to enjoy interactive stories, and thus enjoy Telltale games for what they are.
  • they're more of a "choose your own adventure" than a "game." if you think the andy grammar song "keep your head up" is a game, then we're good. I don't. I think it's a huge stretch to call them "games." And, i also think they suck, but then i hate plot or dialogue in any video games. SKIP EVERY CUTSCENE EVER
  • So what about the "walking simulator" genre of games? They're story-driven games where you typically can't do anything but walk around. Is it still a game?
  • A quick money grab based on what is popular? Or possibly a complete lie about what they are publishing? Telltale sucks and I refuse to buy anything from them.
  • Or, more accurately: a fun story about the Guardians that you won't find anywhere else. :P
  • I'd rather miss out than give telltale a dime
  • Story? sure. game? not so much. 
  • Yeah, but the review's point is if the story in a Telltale game is good, then it's worth it. When the story is bad or somehow a letdown (Game of Thrones, etc.) then, of course, they're very skippable.
  • You don't have to tell that to everybody. Just don't 'buy anything from them'
  • Visual story book, perhaps?
  • Why are these people so against telltale? They make fantastic games. Unless people have hordes of other people to kill with their friends online is not a game for them. They make good interactive entertainment, which is what video games are.
  • They published an outright lie with 7 days to die on consoles, selling it as a complete title when it is still an alpha game. No one said they need "hordes of other people to kill" for a game to be a game. Many of the most popular games (including the 2 most popular ever) require 0 killing to play. Saying Telltales games are fantastic, or good interactive entertainment is purely subjective. So if you enjoy it, go have fun. 
  • I know several people who love that game. Even if its early access status apparently wasn't clear at launch, that's little reason to hold a grudge against completely unrelated titles.
  • I completely disagree. It doesn't matter if people enjoy the game. They lied about it at launch and continue to do so. I'm not about to give my money to a company with that integrety.
  • They're not horrible, but this article is right next to the one for Late Shift, where suposedly are 17 different endings, that's crasy, with Tell Late no matter what you do, the story always ends exactly the same, the most change you were able to do in the walking dead was one character lived while the other died, next chapter they die anyhow... there is no controll of the game, the decisions you take really have no consequence. 
  • Tell Tale, not create a tale ;)
  • i liked how quantum break had the same ending but story options. 
  • Love the Telltale series games, sometimes its nice to have a change of pace by playing a relaxing game with nice story. i wonder if the story goes beyond movie vol.2?
  • My wife loves most Telltale games, I'll be sure to let her know about this one. Nice write-up, Paul.
  • Love Guardians, HATE telltale, probably gonna skip this one.
  • I'd rather miss out than give telltale a dime.
  • I don't give then a dime, but I still like their game. Don't knock off until you try it. For this imma wait, just got walking dead 2 (for free) and it's time to play that.
  • Basically anyone who whines about Telltale games not being "games" they are the gamer that could careless for a story and just want the gameplay. I get that but doesn't make it less of a game just because you may be the type to buy Madden over and over each year and then trade it in. Even then Call of Duty has more depth than a sports game.
  • I'm glad crowd play has returned. Will definitely be picking this up in the future
  • is there anything you dont play?
  • >visual novel >play Pick one.
  • I, like most people probably, had never heard of Guardians of the Galaxy until the movie came out. I never even read a single comic book other than some of my parents old, original Archie comics. When Marvel started making Star Wars comics again a couple years ago, my interest was piqued. So I went to my local comic shop and started browsing. I picked up the Star Wars releases and one or two additional comics that looked interesting. I liked the Guardians of the Galaxy movie so I figured I'd give the comic a try. That was where my habit all started. It really sucked me in. I loved it even more than the Star Wars titles I picked up. It introduced me to a whole host of characters to enjoy. Now I'm collecting 20 different titles. If I hadn't read GotG, I probably never would have bought anything other than Star Wars. Moving onto this game though, I had seen the previous Telltale titles, but never took much interest in them. When I saw they were doing GotG game, I knew it would be an immediate purchase for me. I played through the first episode last night in a little over an hour and loved every minute of it. It's a fantastic story. Some of the acting and animation is so-so, but it's forgivable. The fight scene with Thanos was amazing. This game has made me wonder what the other Telltale adventures hold. I've also come to realize that GotG is kind of a gateway for me.
  • Glad you're enjoying it! You should grab Tales from the Borderlands whenever it goes on sale again; the two games have similar quirky tones.
  • not my style i think the over abundance of this brand in netflix tv shows movies or tvshows in general is to much. im not a huge fan of all marvel. i like some. wont get this. better things to spend my money on. if it goes for free on games for gold maybe i will try it then. 
  • Telltale can sell me just about anything. It's a nice change of pace to just passively participate in the story. And I love the modern iteration of guardians of the galaxy.