Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is a brand new RPG from the folks over at Eidos Montreal. Unlike the recent  2019 Marvel’s Avengers game, Guardians of the Galaxy is a single-player narrative action-adventure that takes you on a compelling quest throughout the universe. 

Marvel's Guardians Of The Galaxy Review | Turn Up Your Radio

You play as Star-Lord, the sarcastic loud-mouthed leader of the Guardians. After just one year together, the team gets pulled along an adventure that tests their skills as individuals, as well as a team. 

The game’s opening mission sends them to a quarantined planet in the Andromeda Galaxy where the Guardians are sneaking into to try and hunt and capture a powerful monster to sell for a quick buck. Despite the team being together for a bit, they are still trying to make a name for themselves and put food on the table. After all, they are still a bunch of misfit bounty hunters. 

Things don’t always go as planned, and well, the team ends up embroiled in a plot much larger than anything they could have imagined. We can’t talk a lot about the plot without spoiling the journey, but it’s certainly the highlight of the game. If you are looking for a solid space-spanning story that lets the characters shine, then this game is for you. 

In between pivotal moments in the campaign, you’ll have time on your team’s ship, The Milano, to interact with Drax, Rocket, Gamora, and Groot. Here is where you’ll have conversations that can range from intimate stories of the emotions each character is grappling with to diffusing a dumb argument some of the crew are having about selling Gamora’s “dolls”. 

I often felt overwhelmed by how much is happening on The Milano when you're just walking around. Characters don't just stand static in one spot, they move around, interact with each other, and constantly leave the damn fridge door open. 

You have quite a bit of leeway in conversations. Most conversations will have a time-sensitive dialogue option for you to partake in, even if it's not a conversation centered around you.

However, choosing what to say as Star-Lord is a double-edged sword. While you don’t have to weigh in on every dispute or conversation, since silence is always an option, it sticks out more when Star-Lord’s scripted dialogue chimes in during the narrative at certain points.

Star-Lord is very much a character who always has to have his two cents heard, whether it’s a dumb quip or a bad idea, but if you’re going to give a player agency over the character, then you have to account for the type of Star-Lord they are crafting. 

Oftentimes I found the Star-Lord I was playing, the more level-headed quiet type would suddenly be loud and abrasive during cutscenes, constantly at odds with the choices I felt I was making as the character.

Guardians of the Galaxy’s biggest strength lies within its character moments. Despite the team being together for about a year, it’s clear there is so much left unsaid between the teammates. Their fears, doubts, emotional baggage, and more. The choice is up to you as Star-Lord if you want to pry and learn more or keep your relationship at surface level. 

You’ll make narrative decisions along the way, some are simply for dialogue and world-building the Star-Lord you want to be, while others may have consequences down the line. 

For instance, early on in Nova Corps HQ, I made a series of decisions to side with a character in an argument, my continued loyalty to said character rewarded me with a passcode key that gave me access to new areas of HQ, which held hidden collectibles. 

This does, however, bring me to one of my main complaints about the game. The main crux of exploring every nook and cranny of the game is in the form of three different types of collectibles. Sometimes you’ll find a cool new costume based on an old Guardians comic book, which is awesome and comes with a bulky description of the outfit. 

You’ll also find artifacts you can bring back to your ship to unlock hidden dialogue options with crewmates for additional scenes and funny moments.

The most common though, are crafting components to make perks for Star-Lord. So often you’ll solve puzzles and walk into an area only to find a small pile crafting components. This wouldn’t be terrible if the perks didn’t feel like an afterthought and offered very little to the actual gameplay itself. 

The perks range from small upgrades like increased shields to allowing Star-Lord to have a reduced cooldown on his weapons. For how often you’re finding crafting components as a reward, it felt useless to keep looking around each environment as the reward was never worth the trouble. 

With the game being very linear, it would have been nice to have more substantial rewards for poking around hidden areas. About halfway through the game, I stopped checking every corner of a spot simply because it was not worth the time I was putting into it. 

You’ll go to a wide swathe of different planets, some very familiar to Guardians fans, and some less known, but all of them feel distinct, interesting, and are rendered with great detail. Every new location was packed with interesting set pieces and a unique art style that felt like I was truly jumping across the galaxy. 

You don’t have an option to revisit older planets to go to each of them at any point, all of your travel is entirely dictated by the narrative. 

Each planet boils down to landing, exploring a little bit, shooting some enemies, exploring more, shooting more, getting some story, and then moving on. Which isn’t a bad thing by any mean, but if you’re looking for a massive open-world space adventure, this isn’t it. 

Combat in Guardians feels clunky. Star-Lord’s main attack is shooting with his dual elemental blasters and ordering the rest of the team to use specific attack actions during combat. While shooting you’ll use the shoulder buttons to pull up the character menu, hit the corresponding face button to open up a teammate’s sub-menu, and then hit another face button to choose from one of the four actions each teammate has.

It’s not the most elegant or refined system, but once you get used to it you can do some real sick combos. For instance, you can use Rocket’s Gravity Grenade to pull all of the enemies together, while that’s happening you can send Drax in to charge the area and throw the bunched-up enemies into the air, and then finish them off with Gamora’s Shadow Strike for massive damage. 

It was until the latter half of the game that I felt like the combat really hit a stride. Most of your team’s abilities are locked behind skill points you obtain through battling and completing missions, so a lot of the combos you can do won’t happen until you unlock more skills. It makes the early hours of combat feel very limiting. Most early combat encounters feel stiff and repetitive, like a dance you’ve seen one too many times before.

After building a meter in the bottom right hand of the screen you can use your super move, which initiates a football-style huddle with your team. Here, you’ll have a brief moment of dialogue with your team to get them to refocus, by using the context clues in the conversation and picking the right dialogue option you’ll come back with instant cooldowns on all team abilities and Star-Lord will even play a song from his tape deck that gets the blood pumping. 

The huddle system itself is neat the first or second time you do it, but often feels like a pace killer and the dialogue options really boil down to a right and wrong choice, making it a weird way to do things. If you get the choice wrong you just, don’t get the instant cooldowns. 

We’ve been spoiled with excellent combat systems recently and while Guardians even at its best don’t hold a candle to some other games, it’s serviceable enough to push you through to the next narrative hook.

Music of course plays a large part in Guardians of the Galaxy and the team at Eidos Montreal has curated a huge selection of licensed tracks ranging from “Take on Me” by A-Ha to Billy Idol’s “White Wedding”. These tracks can be played while walking around your ship, or will randomly play after a successful Huddle during combat. 

The game also plays them during large set piece moments in the campaign to keep the vibe going. 

Ultimately, that’s what I enjoyed the most from the game, the vibes, and if you’re a fan of the Guardians franchise, the game does enough to distinguish itself from other iterations of these characters. It’s not trying to mimic the MCU or the comics, it’s pulling from these entities while creating entirely its own thing. 

If you’re looking for a space adventure this fall Guardians Of The Galaxy is a strong option for a single-player experience.

Pros:

  • Conversations with the other Guardians are rewarding and emotional
  • Beautiful locations and distinct environments
  • Solid overarching narrative

Cons:

  • Clunky combat and a lot of menus
  • Dialogue choices are not always reflective of your Star-Lord
  • Perks feel underwhelming and like an afterthought

Score: 8.0