Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Review: The Single-Player, Story-Focused Game You Wish Marvel’s Avengers Was

An unexpected blast of single-player freshness.

Guardians of the Galaxy

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, ever since its announcement, was just one of those games that existed on the periphery for me, as I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the game from what little gameplay I had seen. For the most part, it seemed to me that perhaps Eidos-Montreal might try and take a second pass at what Marvel’s Avengers did and perhaps re-tune and refine some of its most cumbersome elements.

To my surprise, Guardians of the Galaxy couldn’t be further away from Crystal Dynamic’s Avengers in terms of both design and identity. To my delight – Guardians of the Galaxy is a linear, action-adventure title, and one of the most enjoyable single-player experiences of 2021 that I didn’t see coming.

Guardians of the Galaxy – Prepare for explosions – be hit with the big cry instead

Marvel

Story and Writing

The game picks up 12 years after an inter-galactic war has ravaged through the galaxy and Peter Quill has formed the Guardians of the Galaxy, a super-legit hero-for-hire organization. The story is best experienced when going into it one-hundred percent blind as I feel like the story trailer especially doesn’t quite do justice to the game’s sincere writing – as it makes it look like a quip-fest a la MCU, which it is sometimes, but never at the expense of the story or characters. Guardians of the Galaxy relies, occasionally, on the player’s knowledge of the characters from either the MCU or the comics to fill in the gaps, so as to keep things moving along at a reasonable pace.

For instance, Guardians of the Galaxy doesn’t bother itself with telling a story that chronicles the formation of the rag-tag group, instead – we pick up once the group has already been formed, and it doesn’t take too long to figure out each individual’s role and personality in the group. The game immediately makes it clear from the get-go that players are in for more than just the explosions and the cinematic space throwdowns as the opening cutscene is fairly contained, emotional, and thoroughly unexpected.

More than anything, I was concerned that the Guardians, the individual characters, will run out of steam and their jokes would get tiring – but that was never the case. Each character interaction is always packed with a ton of jokes, but always with an undercurrent of sincerity and emotional depth, which is a refreshing thing to see. Rest assured, if players were hoping to experience a fulfilling story that is reasonably lengthy and engaging, then Guardians of the Galaxy fits that bill quite well.

Gameplay of Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy

It has long been acknowledged by most gamers and critics, that comedy is easily one of the hardest genres to tackle in gaming. While there has always been the occasional Tim Schafer with Monkey Island, it is a rarity. Eidos-Montreal proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that comedy can be achieved not just in cutscenes, but in the minute-to-minute gameplay as well. The best thing one can say about Guardians of the Galaxy is that it feels very singular – both in terms of the narrative and gameplay. While there will be the occasional Uncharted or any other action-adventure title comparison thrown around, it doesn’t feel quite accurate. The game puts players in control of Peter Quill and his primary and only weapon of choice is a pair of blasters that acquire more power ups throughout the game, and during combat, Peter can instruct the Guardians to use their abilities – hopefully, in tandem.

This creates a very interesting combat puzzle each time around that feels very Doom 2016 in its execution. Each enemy is susceptible to one particular type of attack, which will require some experimentation or one scan from Peter’s visor. Essentially, the Guardians are divided into 2 distinct types of offenses, Stagger and Damage. For instance, while Groot will be able to stagger and slow down the enemy, Gamora can step into stab them and deal a ton of damage. This way, combat is always reasonably fast-paced, occasionally dwelling into mind-numbing chaos of blaster-noises – which is exactly where the Huddle Up system works so great. Each time players might feel like the battle has gone on too long or gotten too overwhelming, they can regroup with their gang and Peter can rally the troops with a rousing speech and provide power-ups to the team – or botch it hilariously and he’s the only one that walks away with any kind of advantage.

Guardians

Another thing of note is that controls can often be a bit unreliable in parts – especially when it comes to targeting. Very often, instead of focusing my fire on clearly the strongest enemy on the field, my blasters would much rather shoot the small minion bullet-sponge. The targeting can do with a bit of polish as it routinely makes things cumbersome, as the lock-on is extremely hard to switch.

The combat loop, although fun, does get a bit tiring after the 3rd shooting gallery in the same level, but the game switches things up routinely to keep things interesting. The platforming feels just fine, nothing really of note, and the puzzles, while fun at first, quickly start to feel like padding. Also, fans of popular RPGs will be glad to know that there is indeed a choice-system at play here with the player, as Peter, will be able to make hard decisions and take different approaches to situations such as negotiations or arguments. There is a very clear emphasis on player agency, despite the game being fairly linear, which is always a nice touch.

Presentation

Guardians
Kind of wish there were more of these outdoor sections.

Visually, but more importantly sonically, Guardians of the Galaxy is an absolute winner. As expected, the soundtrack was always going to be a major highlight and it is. As opposed to Peter’s pop-rock hits from the 80s, this has a lot more metal – and Peter generally has a lot more 80s metal to his character than his MCU counterpart. The Huddle Up system is a great way to introduce soundtrack into the gameplay, which often makes a regular shooting gallery feel large and meaningful, as opposed to simply chomping down cannon fodder.

Visually, Guardians of the Galaxy is interesting, but so many of the game’s levels take place indoors – that I can’t help but feel like we missed out on a lot of potential. The game throws the occasional beautiful outdoors with the odd platforming section, but it still doesn’t quite feel like it takes advantage of the endlessly unique world of Guardians of the Galaxy.

Soundtrack cover
The soundtrack is routinely impressive,

While I didn’t exactly encounter any major game-breaking bugs or glitches, Quill would occasionally get stuck on the side of a railing or fall into an endless pit – requiring me to reload a checkpoint. Quite curiously, during one particular section in the game, the game failed to register my response and the Guardians just stood about doing nothing, forcing me to reload a checkpoint again. The game will probably receive a couple of patches soon to fix some issues, but it isn’t a bug-fest by any measure. The game is very-well polished and the experience is largely bug and glitch-free.

Final score – Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy is a wonderfully delightful game packed to the brim with tons of heart and sincerity. It occasionally gets repetitive, but not to the point where it becomes a major nuisance. Character progression is but a simple points-allocation system and not a very in-depth system worth noting.

The story flows pretty well, despite a couple of chapters feeling like unnecessary padding. Yet, despite this, the characters’ interaction with each other makes them from feeling like an exercise in tedium. While there weren’t any major technical issues with the game, there were a couple that seemed to get in the way.

Overall, Guardians of the Galaxy is a very enjoyable single-player experience that continuously surprises the player with heartfelt moments of sincerity.

Final Score – 8.5/10

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I possess the dexterity of a toddler when it comes to fighting games, but the confidence of a hundred Jay-Z's. Absolutely love narrative-driven games - with a particular obsession with indie side scrollers and retrowave scores. Currently playing: Stray.