To say there were some issues with Marvels Avengers when it launched in 2020 would be a bit of an understatement. So it’s understandable that when the same publisher announced the pending launch of Guardians of the Galaxy only a year later, some were concerned. This is Marvel and Square Enix however it is not the same developer, not a live service game and not an experience to be missed.
Perhaps the biggest surprise, that maybe shouldn’t be considering the source material, is just how good the story in the game is. The main narrative thread follows the core members of the group as they head to the Quarantine Zone in order to capture a monster for nothing more than a pay day. Of course what follows is a seemingly small and inconsequential occurrence that is brushed off as nothing only to be expertly woven into a series of escalating events that by the end, threaten the entire galaxy.
The beauty of the narrative is how well it can be enjoyed by newcomers while also providing many nods to the comic book and cinematic universes for the more familiar. So much of the backstory and origin of each character is revealed through flashback segments, party member chatter in the field and in depth dialogue sequences between levels on the group’s ship, the Milano. As a result, by the time the credits roll, this might just become your new favorite Marvel group.
The player takes control of the group’s leader Peter Quill and only Peter Quill. Initially the idea of not controlling the full group seemed like it would be disappointing but quickly became a non factor. In fact this very specific point of view allows for a deeper connection to the protagonists growth through a very emotionally charged journey to discover family and learn to be a proper leader.
This adventure will take the player to locations all across the galaxy such as Planet Lamentis, the Nova station of Halas Hope, and even the mining colony turned merchant outpost of Knowhere. Every destination is an absolute sight to behold. Not being confined to what we see on Earth really allowed the designers to experiment with their use of colour, elemental effects and character designs. The games visuals are great on a technical level but in regards to creativity they are out of this world.
Nice graphics are not just the only things housed in these settings as you will also find a variety of combat zones, platforming segments and even some light puzzle solving. The latter of these often leads to a variety of collectibles and requires the use of your different elemental weapons or your teammate’s abilities, which you as Star-Lord command them to execute. A console might need to be hacked by Rocket or a nearby panel might require being shot with your lightning elemental ammo. Every member of the team brings something to the table and will be called upon.
A quick note on the types of collectibles that are available to be found; there are archives that expand on the lore, components that are used at workbenches to unlock passives for Star-Lord and costumes which are pretty self explanatory. They are usually not too challenging to find but are always useful.
The biggest remaining aspect of the game to discuss is the combat. It is maybe the weakest element and that is only because it is just good rather than great. Battle takes place in the form of a third person shooter with the added ability to once again call on your allies for assistance. As you take part in more fights you will gain experience that eventually leads to skill points which can be used to unlock abilities for your party members. This adds a nice amount of strategy as you manage teammate cooldowns while blasting away enemies so that you can throw down an area of effect attack from Rocket at a group of enemies that have been rooted in place by Groot.
All of this issuing of commands and verbal interaction makes it feel like you are really part of a team, even though you are only directly controlling one character. That and the little sections of sliding down landscapes or the odd dogfight being peppered in do a great job of redirecting focus away from the combat that is just alright.
Decent combat elevated by extras, a captivating narrative experience full of well designed characters and a healthy runtime of about 15 hours across 16 chapters all wrapped up in a visually impressive package makes this one of the best games to come out this year. Pick this one up and make sure that you don’t play in streamer mode because the music just makes everything better.