“Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy” game review

Michael Tracey, General Assignment Reporter

After being absent from published stories for over a decade, the Guardians of the Galaxy weren’t at the top of Marvel’s success since debuting in 1969’s “Marvel Super-Heroes #18.” Yet, the ragtag team of misfits are some of its most popular characters to date, especially after the massive success of James Gunn’s 2014 film, “Guardians of the Galaxy.” So it only seemed logical to make a video game based on them, right? Well, it hasn’t happened until now. 

Enter publisher Square Enix and developer Eidos Montreal’s “Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy,” a third-person action shooter with occasional platforming and puzzle-solving. After rolling credits, I can sincerely say both Eidos and Square have stepped up to the plate and knocked it out of the park. “Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy” delivers a thrilling experience worthy of the Marvel name. It stays true to the characters we all know and love from the comic books and the Marvel Cinematic Universe version while shaking things up to establish its own identity. 

“Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy” is a linear story-driven single-player experience from the perspective of Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord, the (sort of) leader of the modern age Guardians of the Galaxy: Drax the Destroyer, Gamora, Rocket Raccoon, and Groot. Without giving away any spoilers, the story told in this video game adaptation is convincing and thought-provoking; every chapter ends with a cliff-hanger feeling making it easy to say, “just one more.”

The creators of “Guardians” took what’s known about these characters and flipped everything on its head, and it works. This reworking takes the Guardians on a wild intergalactic adventure exploring new and familiar concepts, planets, and faces. Additionally, there are collectibles to pick up for rewarding exploration of each chapter. Stay on the lookout for purple containers filled with various outfits to customize the Guardians. There’s even the option to dress them in costumes from the 2014 film that helps those who wished they looked more like their MCU counterparts. 

Photo courtesy of Square Enix.

The story’s pacing has the right momentum for most of the game’s entirety—only a few chapters dragged on and weren’t as exciting. The narrative shined in many aspects, mainly when developing its characters with more emotion and depth than we’ve known. However, one part of the writing was highly repetitive and became a massive distraction. To put things plainly, Eidos and Square decided it was best to have all the characters curse but instead use the word “flark.” The voice acting work is fantastic, so it was funny the first five times it was delivered, but almost everyone in the game kept using the word, making the joke overstay its welcome.

“Marvel’s Guardians of Galaxy” shines in many aspects of its gameplay apart from what I mentioned before. The level design is gorgeous in every chapter, and the character models are smooth and responsive in combat and during cutscenes. In addition, the facial animations and words match up nicely with the mouth when speaking—something that doesn’t happen as often as it should in a new game. 

I only experienced a few bugs, but nothing game-breaking or distracting from its gameplay. The combat was one of my favorite aspects of the game, even though it became hectic at times. The combat scenario pits the player as Star-Lord, armed with two blasters, against a slew of enemies far and wide. The enemies each have different abilities and ways to take them down. For example, star-Lords blasters will allow the option to equip elemental variations to turn the tide of battle but won’t fully unlock until the game’s final chapters. 

Photo courtesy of Square Enix.

The game also takes inspiration from a franchise like “Mass Effect” when implementing the squad functionality mechanics as Peter commands the Guardians. The player can slow down the fight and strategically decide how to use each Guardians’ four distinct abilities. A small window appears on the screen, and each Guardian is assigned a separate button to distinguish the difference between them for the player.

One feature worth noting is a moment in the middle of combat where there’s the option to initiate a huddle. The fight takes a pause, and the Guardians come together to speak with confidence or uncertainty in a literal huddle. The player will have two dialogue options for Peter to choose from, and if executed properly, there will be a massive bonus in damage once the team breaks. Peter presses play on his mixtape after the huddle, and instantly the chaos of the combat is met with hit music from past decades. The huddle provides another layer to the action by making it feel unique to the Guardians of the Galaxy. In addition, Peter has powers to use simultaneously, so to say a lot is going on in the combat of “Guardians” would be an understatement. 

Photo courtesy of Square Enix.

Aside from the chaotic yet fun combat, what holds the game back from pure greatness is a few questionable decisions in its story themes and moments of outlandish word usage. Square and Eidos play it safe and don’t overreach or innovate in any of the game’s aspects in its final result, making “Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy ” a jack of trades and master of none.

Nevertheless, “Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy” is a solid video game, and I enjoyed my time despite a few of its flaws that are easy to overlook. As a massive fan of Marvel and these characters alike, this video game adaption checks all of the boxes: stellar soundtrack, satisfying combat, and a compelling story. It also makes me excited about the prospects of what a sequel could be and how it can deliver more for its second outing after finishing the game. 

Thanks to “Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy,” star-studded music, I’ll be humming “Never Gonna Give You Up” and “Take On Me” well past the new year.

“Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy” was released October 26, 2021, on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Microsoft Windows.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Spinnaker Sails.


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