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Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series: Tangled Up in Blue (PC) artwork

Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series: Tangled Up in Blue (PC) review

"Oh Mercy"

Thereís a sense that Telltaleís releases are starting to face a dip in quality as they spread themselves across multiple licenses, and the ludicrously titled Marvelís Guardianís of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series: Tangled Up in Blue doesnít do a hell of a lot to belay that. Still using the creaking engine they used to launch the first season of The Walking Dead in April 2012, their games have routinely lost a lot of what made that series so memorable. No longer are you afforded the time for a tale to really unfold. No longer are you tricked into connecting with a cast so that the awful things that happen to them (that often feel like your fault) really resonate. No longer are even the most rudimentary puzzles presented to at least pretend thereís some interactivity in there.

But perhaps this could have been the franchise that banished a lot of those issues. Hell; some of them are made obsolete right off the bat. Even though the physical cast of the game are modeled more closely on their comic counterparts (which makes it weird Telltale has dropped their comic-inspired graphics and gone for clean 3D models), their voice actors are certainly doing their very best Chris Pratt and Dave Bautista impressions. This means that though the game is not based at all on the actions of the film, theyíve certainly embraced the cinematic personality traits of the crew. Rocket isnít the sly artificial Cockney he is on the pages; heís a Bradley Cooper-sounding bad-tempered schemer. Drax isnít some rage-fueled musclehead who once took on The Hulk on equal footing. Heís a rage-fueled musclehead who doesnít understand irony. Right off the bat, most of us know who the cast are.

Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series: Tangled Up in Blue (PC) image

So the game doesnít waste time trying to get us acquainted -- the Nova Core rope the group into a very early confrontation with Thanos (king of end-credit cameos). Thereís an attempt of quasi-puzzle solving which revolve around looking about and using Star Lordís rocket boots to move up and down levels, and then thereís a big action scene which is an unashamed conveyor belt of quick time events. Itís all pretty rapid-fire and shallow, just a chain of events with interactions so limited you never really feel youíre a part of it. In under an hour, youíre going head to head with Thanos, who the MCU have built up to be the end-of-game boss of their cinematic franchise. Every now and then, you press left arrow, or Q.

Itís a bit weird. Most of the prompts are on different parts of the keyboard. You need to use the arrow keys for dodges, and WASD periodically for actions. And then, sometimes, you need to use mouse clicks, which you probably donít possess a third hand for. With this in mind, itís a boon that Guardians is forgiving in these events, and will allow you some measure of failure without someone getting their neck snapped and shuffling you all the way back to the start of the fight. Because itís a long one.

Iíve been a little unfair; the fight is clumsy, but it does get the most out of Telltaleís struggling engine and, even with the constant switching of perspectives as you cycle through your team of five, everything runs pretty seamlessly. However, itís only in the aftermath that the game feels like it has a real sense of worth or substance to it. Itís about here where Telltale start sowing the seeds of the Guardians falling apart.

Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series: Tangled Up in Blue (PC) image

Some of this is spectacularly ham-fisted. In a short scene that I guess was supposed to be moving, you can talk to Drax about his murdered family. You get one of those moral choices wherein you can tell Drax his struggle is worthwhile, or you can effectively call him a coattail riding loser who has accomplished nothing. In a move that will register as shocking to exactly no one, around 90% of people decided not to kneecap the grieving father and husband who is supposed to be your friend. Others handle their connection to the group differently, some keen to enforce their bonds, others questioning the reasons for everyone to stay together. Itís kind of Logan-esque in some ways, inviting the question of what do superheroes do when they donít have to be superheroes anymore? Itís a fun subject to dwell on, but then todayís McGuffin is revealed as a bargain-basement infinity stone of sorts, and thatís enough of that for now.

Itís too early to tell how the series as a whole will eventually plan out, and Tangled Up in Blueís less than two hours of run time was only ever going to be pure set-up to get the story rolling. It does things wrong - like having a subtitle of Tangled Up in Blue and then featuring exactly nothing from Bob Dylan in its film-inspired 80ís soundtrack, but it shows it's capable of throwing out an amusing line now and then, and it does flash that hook of trying to keep a dying team pulling in different directions together somehow. While Iím not going to be counting down the days until the second episode, it does provide it with something to build upon.


EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (April 23, 2017)

Gary Hartley arbitrarily arrives, leaves a review for a game no one has heard of, then retreats to his 17th century castle in rural England to feed whatever lives in the moat and complain about you.

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