Since the release of the MCU’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1 in 2014, the titular ragtag team has grown in popularity. In Marvel Comics, however, some iterations of the team have been around since 1969, making it a good fit for Square Enix and Eidos Montreal’s game, simply called Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. In fact, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1 is a journey through space, not just through the MCU team, but the Marvel Comics team itself.
First off, it’s been clear from the start that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1 is very different from the Crystal Dynamics-developed Marvel’s Avengers, on which Eidos Montreal did some work. Marvel’s Avengers is a real-time service game with a good campaign, but with more emphasis on multiplayer elements, and the campaign is what all players will find in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.
It’s not just found in the comics or the MCU, however; Eidos Montreal tells his own Guardians of the Galaxy story in-game, drawing inspiration from obscure Marvel classics and reinventing it with new (if sometimes familiar) way to exploit known roles. The story itself is clearly the game’s strong point. Fresh off a galactic war with Thanos and his Chitauri, the Guardians are now trying to build up their team. At first, the player seems to be pulled in multiple directions, though the story eventually manages to tie everything together.at least for the most part.
Juggling a 2-to-3 storyline in Guardians of the Galaxy allows for strong twists at funny inopportune times, but it does lead to the story’s biggest flaw. The pacing of the story in Guardians of the Galaxy can feel choppy at times, with one objective taking hours to complete while the other 2-3 objectives can be completed even faster. It speeds up and slows down indefinitely, never letting the player know how long a mission will take, but even the odd pacing doesn’t ruin the story. There are a lot of emotional moments that are well done, as well as a lot of laugh-out-loud moments. The story captures the personalities of the Guardians, even if it relies too heavily on the MCU at times and has some pacing issues.
Guardians of the Galaxy players can use their team’s various skills in the world, such as having Drax destroy obstacles, Groot build bridges out of wood, and Rocket fit into small places and blow things up. This involves using their skills as well as Star-Lord’s to solve puzzles, and there’s a lot of platforming that happens between the story and combat parts. Overall, perhaps one of the best details in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.
At different stages of the game, the player needs to make important decisions that affect other story elements in the game. In fact, it sometimes feels like playing a TellTale Guardians of the Galaxy game, as the player can drive Rocket crazy, can make Rocket angry or betray certain characters, and make other questionable decisions that in turn hurt them or help them. Obviously, some choices have greater long-term impact than others, but it’s sometimes hard to tell which is which, forcing players to always make the best choice for the team.
Story aside, Guardians of the Galaxy has a strong combat system, even if it can be a mess from a gameplay and input standpoint. As Star-Lord, the player has to make all the decisions on the battlefield, and the game makes sure there are enough of them. Star-Lord has his standard attack, elemental ammo attack, quick reload ability, charge attack and his own set of abilities. At the same time, he can lead the team through various Flair Attacks and Call-to-Action sequences, rallying the team together, issuing environmental commands, and commanding them to use their abilities and, once unlocked, their superpowers.
Sounds like a lot, and it is. As far as pure command input is concerned, it is inevitable for players to accidentally use the wrong ability or skill in battle. Generally, it’s not the end of the world, as enemies fall into familiar categories (tank-like bruisers, healers, etc.). The bosses players encounter in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1 are the highlight of the enemy pool, and that’s okay, though they’re also pretty standard.
At the end of the day, the sheer mayhem of the combat, the various small enemies, and the boss fights are fun. Battles do what they’re set for : to allow players to fulfill their power fantasy as Star-Lord, leader of the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. Many video games have companions, and many games have ways to utilize them in combat, but none can match the importance of being a Star-Lord leading the Guardians and making quick decisions as a team in combat. In fact, its combat’s greatest strength is that, despite its chaos, it’s equally immersive.
Guardians of the Galaxy could illustrate this in a number of ways. As confusing as it gets, despite any bugs players may encounter, it’s hard not to feel like Star-Lord himself by the end of the game. With a game so focused on narrative and choice, the player’s investment is crucial, and Guardians of the Galaxy returns ten times that.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1 launches on October 26 on PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X. For the purposes of this review, Game Rant obtained the Xbox Series X code.