Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy features an emotional and hilarious story, immersive decisions, and combat that’s exciting if a bit bloated.
Ever since the MCU release of Guardians of the Galaxy in 2014, the titular team of ragtag misfits has only grown in popularity. In Marvel comics, however, some iteration of the team has existed since 1969, making it fitting that Square Enix and Eidos Montreal’s game, simply titled Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, pays tribute to both formats in-game. Indeed, Guardians of the Galaxy is a space ride not just through the team of the MCU but the Marvel comics team itself.
First and foremost, it’s clear from the get-go that Guardians of the Galaxy is cut from a different cloth than the Crystal Dynamics-developed Marvel’s Avengers, which Eidos Montreal did some work on. Marvel’s Avengers is a live-service game that had a good campaign but a stronger focus on the multiplayer elements, whereas the campaign is all players will find in Guardians of the Galaxy.It’s not one found solely in the comics or MCU, however; Eidos Montreal tells its own Guardians of the Galaxy story in-game, pulling from obscure Marvel canon and utilizing known characters in new-if-sometimes-familiar ways. The story itself is clearly a strong point of the game. Fresh out of Galactic War against Thanos and his Chitauri, the Guardians are now just trying to build their team. At first, it seems that players are pulled in multiple directions, though the story eventually manages to tie everything together…for the most part anyway.
Juggling the 2-to-3 storylines in Guardians of the Galaxy allows for strong twists at interestingly inopportune times, but it does lead to the biggest flaw of the story. Guardians of the Galaxy’s story pacing can feel off at times, with one single goal taking hours to complete while 2-3 others could be done even sooner. It speeds up and slows down at indeterminable instances, never letting a player know how much time one mission will take, but even the odd pacing doesn’t ruin the story. There are plenty of well-done emotional moments, as well as laugh-inducing ones too. The story captures the personality of the Guardians, even if it leans on the MCU a little too heavily at times and has some pacing issues.
Guardians of the Galaxy players are able to utilize the various skills of their team out in the world, such as having Drax destroy obstacles, Groot make bridges out of wood, and Rocket fit into small places and blow things up. This involves solving puzzles utilizing their skills, as well as Star-Lord’s, and a lot of platforming will happen between the story and combat bits. Overall, perhaps one of the best details in Guardians of the Galaxy is how, at first, players have to direct all of these things, but as the team grows closer in the game, these characters will begin working independently.At various points in the game, players will need to make important decisions that impact other story elements in the game. In fact, it sometimes feels as if playing the Telltale Guardians of the Galaxy game, because players can make Rocket mad, can upset or betray certain characters, and make other questionable decisions that come back to bite them or help them. Obviously, some choices have a bigger long-term impact than others, but it’s sometimes hard to tell which is which, forcing players to make the best choice they can for the team at all times.
Aside from the story, Guardians of the Galaxy has a strong combat system even if it can be a chaotic mess from both a gameplay and input point of view. As Star-Lord, players have to make all the calls on the battlefield, and the game makes sure there’s plenty of those to be made. Star-Lord has his standard attack, elemental ammo attacks, a rapid reload ability, a charge attack, and his own set of abilities. Meanwhile, he can lead the team in various Flair Attacks and Call-to-Action sequences, call the team in for a huddle, issue environmental commands, and command them to use their abilities and, once it is unlocked, their mega ability.
It sounds like a lot and it definitely is. In terms of sheer command input, it is inevitable that players accidentally use the wrong ability or skill while in battle. Generally, that’s not the end of the world, because the enemies fall into familiar categories (tank-like bruisers, healers, etc.). The bosses players encounter in Guardians of the Galaxy are the highlight of the enemy pool, though they are all pretty standard too, and that’s okay.
At the end of the day, the purely chaotic combat, various small-time enemies, and boss battles are all fun. The combat does what it sets out to do: let players live out their power fantasies as Star-Lord, leader of the Guardians of the Galaxy. Many video games feature companions, and many games feature ways to utilize them in combat, but none hold a candle to how important it feels leading the Guardians as Star-Lord and making snap decisions in battle as a team. Indeed, the greatest strength of its combat is that, as chaotic as it is, it’s equally immersive too.
And that can be said of Guardians of the Galaxy in a multitude of ways. As chaotic as it gets and despite any faults players may have with it, it’s hard not to feel like Star-Lord himself at the end of the game. For a game with such a heavy focus on narrative and choices, player investment is crucial, and Guardians of the Galaxy delivers tenfold.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy releases on PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X on October 26. Game Rant was provided an Xbox Series X code for the purposes of this review.