I want to start off by pointing out that Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy was developed by Eidos-Montréal, the developers behind Shadow of the Tomb Raider. Therefore, this game has no connection to Marvel’s Avengers which was developed by Crystal Dynamics. With that said, I can absolutely reassure you that Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy not only delivers on the look and feel of our beloved hodgepodge team but over exceeded all of my expectations.
You play as Star-Lord, the leader of the Guardians of the Galaxy which consists of Drax the Destroyer, Gamora (daughter of Thanos) Rocket, and Groot. Star-Lord’s goal is to have a team that can help out anyone in the Galaxy for a price, hence the name of the team. Unfortunately, they now need to pay a large debt or else face imprisonment.
They come up with a plan that requires a member of their team (one of your choosing) to be sold to Lady Hellbender with the end goal of taking the money and breaking out the team member. What could go wrong? The story is somewhat linear and I say somewhat because you will have to make key decisions that can alter the storyline. For example, the decision on which character gets sold to Lady Hellbender. Overall, these decisions alter your play experience but not to the point that the game can take a complete left turn.
One of the most notable charms of the group has always been the back & forth banter; Drax not trusting Gamora and Groot, well just saying Groot and Rocket reacting like he just said something of significant importance. This is all present in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy but on a scale that I’ve never experienced in any game. The amount of dialogue in this game is unbelievable. Once you take character control of Star-Lord, everyone is having their own side conversations which are constantly happening throughout the game.
You can walk out of the room and return a few minutes later and they are still talking but have progressed in their conversations. So, they didn’t pause and resume when you returned. It’s absolutely amazing. Occasionally you will see a prompt appear that will allow you to get involved in the conversation and two choices will appear. Usually, each choice sides with one of the two in the conversation. This is not story-impacting as you can ignore the prompt but it’s a cool way of the game interjecting some subtle dialogue changes. The voice work is on point and has a smooth flow so that the back & forth sounds like a real conversation with no awkward pauses.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is absolutely beautiful. Whether you are comparing the art design to the comics or the movies, the game is on par with both. Some locations can be brightly colorful while others are morbidly dreary. The ambient noises and environmental sounds are reminiscent of the films which provide an epic adventure feel thought-out.
However, the background music can be a bit too loud at times and in some cut scenes overpowered the characters’ conversations. In some locations, it almost drowned out the dialogue. Besides that, I experienced no graphic issues such as frame drops, freezing, or input delays. On that note, it’s time to talk about the game controls, and there are A LOT OF CONTROLS!
Eidos-Montréal could have gone the easy route and made this a simple action-adventure game with simplistic controls. Instead, they took a more experienced gamer approach and implanted a rather deep control scheme. When you tap on the controller touchpad, you will see all four members and their stats. You will see their current level and what new skill they will unlock at the next level. There is also a perk tab that displays a list of perks and the materials needed to unlock them.
That’s right, as you travel across the galaxy you will also need to search for these materials which appear as shiny objects. Pressing (Triangle) will pick them up and display the type of material discovered. You will also find collectibles and other random items. Now you won’t have to run around pressing the (Triangle) button all over the place thanks to Star-Lords Visor. Pressing in (R3) will go into a Batman Arkham-style detective mode. You can move your pointer over a glowing object, and press (R2) which will display its details. While in this view, Star-Lord cannot fire his weapon.
As you progress, blaster element shots abilities will become available and are assigned to the 4 D-pad buttons. Once you select your element shot” you press (R1) to use. The element gauge replenishes over time and should only be used on an enemy that is vulnerable to that element. Each enemy type has multiple health bars and icons above them. If you see the symbol of a snowflake, then they are vulnerable to ice-element shots. Shooting them with ice will freeze them for a bit so you and the team can inflict additional damage. With that said, you can dish out commands to your fellow guardians.
While aiming at a target, press, and hold (L1) to display all 4 members of your team. Select the member you want to order to attack and they will perform their skill move. The more they perform their skill and if the target is killed from the strike, the faster they will earn XP to level up and unlock a new skill. While in combat, you may see a (Triangle) prompt appear quickly and if pressed an even stronger attack will be performed by a team member. After each member uses their skill, they will still continue to fight but cannot be called upon again until the cooldown is complete. You will know a member is in cooldown when you bring up that character select option and they are grayed out. Now there is plenty more you will discover regarding the controls but the one I truly dislike is the huddle.
While in combat and defeating enemies, you will fill another meter that will unlock the “Huddle”. Pressing (L1 + R1) will bring up a cut-scene of the team gathered around you and saying random things about the current battle. Your goal is to respond with the correct words of wisdom to give them a boost in power. You have 3 choices with the third being the option to say nothing. If you don’t motivate them only Star-Lord will receive the boost. Right or wrong once you return to the action, Star-Lord will play a classic track from his Walkman which will play throughout the battle. I personally feel this is pointless and unnecessary. It’s cool that the dialogue from the team members is random so it may be a while before you hear the remarks but after a few hours in, I completely avoided this option.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy takes many cues from Shadow of the Tomb Raider in regards to the puzzles. There are a lot of puzzles. There are some utilized to escape or enter areas. The cool twist is that it’s not all up to Star-Lord to figure out while the team just stands around. You will need to use each of them to perform a unique ability in order to complete the puzzle. For example, Drax is strong and you need to reach a higher platform. While in visor mode, you may see a huge boulder glowing. If you press (L1) and select Drax he will walk over and pick up the boulder. You can point to where it needs to be placed. Another example is if there is a huge gap to clear, if you select Groot, he might be able to grow a bridge for the team to cross.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy looks and feels like I had hoped. The story is entertaining and immersive. The absurd amount of dialogue makes every character feel real and not just some NPC along for the ride. My only concern is that the controls may be too advanced for younger players or even for some casuals who love the IP and want to run around as Star-Lord blasting space aliens.
There are some truly challenging boss battles that require a strategic attack and you’ll need specific elements, skills, and perks in order to progress so you can’t just throw everything at them and hope for the best. Overall, I enjoyed my time with the game and think it does a great job expanding the Guardians journey into the realm of video games.
This review was written based on a digital review copy of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy for the PlayStation 5 provided by Eidos-Montréal and Square Enix.