For once, I’m not super-duper late to finish a game–the final episode of Telltale’s Guardians of the Galaxy just dropped a week and a half ago, and (spoiler alert?) I saved the galaxy last night.
I’ve and spoken at some length about Telltale games in the past and my mixed feelings tend toward the positive. Since these games are primarily interactive fiction, writing is key to their success, and while Telltale can’t always hit the right beats when it comes to dialogue, their plotting is usually right on and the voice acting often makes up for deficiencies in the script. The GotG game is par for the course in this regard, though some characters’ lines (eg Drax) fare much better than others’ (eg Gamora). Like every other Telltale game, you’re much more likely to enjoy this if you’re a fan of its inspiration.
Gameplay, such as it is, hasn’t changed much. Much of the story is told in cut scenes peppered with dialogue choices, most of which run on a timer. You’ll need to remember old choices and think about what other characters want to hear–or just blurt out whatever comes to mind, which can occasionally yield some lovely moments. I once had Star-Lord say something quietly humble and the game responded with a notification that read “The Guardians are mildly surprised.” Well played, writers.
The narrative is sometimes interrupted with action sequences that are essentially very simple rhythm games. When you see “A” or a left-pointing arrow (or sometimes a combo), you respond quickly and your hero does something cool–or gets shanked if you misstep. Telltale continues to improve these systems, though they can still be frustrating to folks on either end of the hand-eye coordination spectrum who can find them trivial or punishing. One recent innovation I love is scripting fight sequences to match Star-Lord’s ever-present soundtrack. Given that these scenes play like stripped-down versions of Rock Band, it’s an inspired choice and I hope they pursue it more in the future. The climactic battle, set to Heart’s “Crazy on You,” is sublime.
Replayability is a key feature of interactive fiction, and I imagine I’l come back to GotG at some point to see what happens if I choose to [REDACTED] the [REDACTED]. It’s fun, it’s (mostly) affecting, and the soundtrack is terrific. Are you Groot?