Marvel’s Guardian’s of the Galaxy is a single-player third-person action-adventure game that puts players in the shoes of Peter Quill AKA Star-Lord. The game is a reimagining that sits outside the continuity of both the Marvel Studios movies and the comic books it is based on. Similar to Rocksteady’s Batman Arkham games, Guardian’s of the Galaxy takes the characters’ established mythology and reinvents it for the game.
Peter Quill is joined by Gamora, Drax, Rocket, and Groot from the movies. There are also appearances by other characters that fans will be familiar with.
Star-Lord and his team of Guardians are galactic heroes-for-hire/thieves, in over their heads, trying to avert a galaxy-wide threat that they may be responsible for. After getting caught by Nova Corp illegally salvaging starship wreaks in a restricted zone, Quill and the team must find a way to pay the fine. Selling the cybernetically-enhanced raccoon, Rocket, or the sentient tree, Groot to Lady Hellbender as a ruse doesn’t work out. Instead, the team opts to rob the well-connected collector of monsters, putting a price on their head that attracts various bounty hunters throughout the game.
In trying to pay their fine with their ill-gotten gains, the Guardians discover that an entity from the restricted zone has possessed the Nova Corp crew that arrested them. This possession, offering those that succumb “the promise” begins to sweep across the galaxy. And it’s up to The Guardians of the Galaxy to stop it.
Guardians of the Galaxy is the second Marvel game from Square Enix following Marvel’s Avengers. Guardians is a totally different game from the multiplayer-focused Avengers.
Whereas the Avengers game has players choosing from a roster of characters, Guardians of the Galaxy has players just controlling Star-Lord. The game is also a much more linear, curated, and narrative experience.
The plot has the team traveling to a variety of different worlds, starships, and space stations. The story has a very cinematic feel, as do the game environments. The whole presentation is very polished.
The gameplay is split between exploration/puzzle-solving and combat, with a bit of Mass Effect-style conversation thrown in for good measure. Whilst players only directly control Peter Quill, players can call upon team members for help. Gamora can assist Peter in reaching high places and cutting open blocked areas, Drax can use his strength to move objects, Rocket can climb into small spaces and Groot can bridge gaps and raise platforms. The puzzles are not very taxing. There are plenty of hidden areas that sometimes unlock new outfits for the team and components for upgrades. It’s worth exploring hard-to-reach places.
I found the combat rather scrappy at first. With players just controlling Star=Lord, the rest of the team seem to just spend their time keeping the enemy at bay rather than defeating them, unassisted. It’s only when commanded by the player via an easy-to-use menu system that the team members use their special abilities to really do some damage. The teams’ abilities range from Gamora’s use of her blades to attack out-of-reach opponents to Rocket blowing enemies up. Successful combat encounters reward attribute points which can be spent unlocking further abilities for each team member.
Additional progression is unlocked by collecting components that Rocket can use to augment Peter’s skills, increase health, etc. As the game progresses Peter’s signature blasters unlock additional secondary firing abilities such as freezing enemies delivering electric shocks (also useful for power things up) and pulling enemies towards him for a melee attack.
As players unlock more abilities, combat options increase. Once you get into the flow, combat encounters are quite good fun.
There are also some occasions where players control Quill’s ship, The Milano for some dogfighting combat. I’m not sure if this was an afterthought or not, but I found the controls awkward and I wonder how much of it was actually on rails.
The game’s writing and voice acting are the stars of the game. The script is funny, capturing the same humour as the movies. The incredible 80s soundtrack is another tip of the hat to the Marvel movies. Fighting possessed Novo Corp soldier to Rick Astley bought a smile to my face. There’s plenty of Marvel character name-dropping and easter eggs for players to find as well.
The game is visually stunning. The character models are fantastically animated (although I did spot some characters floating above the ground a little bit). The interior environments are a bit samey, but there are some impressive, vast vistas and interesting planets to explore.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is, when viewed as the sum of its parts, a very impressive game. It’s easy to overlook the game’s linear gameplay, somewhat scrappy combat, and single directly controllable character when you add in the polished presentation and superb storytelling. This is a game with a lot of heart that fans are going to enjoy.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is available now for Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, and PC. A PC review copy was supplied by the publisher for this review.
Rating: Very Good