If you were to read the cliff-notes for the 2014 Guardians of the Galaxy film, “Rad retro tunes” would be near the top of the page. Sure, there’s also the chemistry between the characters, the bright colour palette, and James Gunn’s writing chops, but the rad tunes have endured. In 120 minutes the film delivered a vibrant sci-fi premise with a cast of puckish rogues. So what does Telltale’s latest series opener, Guardians of the Galaxy: Episode 1 – Tangled Up in Blue, deliver in just 90?
It delivers the cliff-notes version of Guardians of the Galaxy universe. Thanos is evil, the Guardians are good. High-jinks ensue. Characters have one personality trait, which is disappointing given the buckets of personality Drax and Rocket exude in their big screen outings. Thankfully, the dialogue is sharp, and I was rarely caught in a conversation with one character for longer than a few minutes. The pace is snappy, changing from slow-paced character moment, to fight scene, and back within a few minutes.
However, it does highlight Telltale’s biggest flat; action sequences. It’s a wonder that after years of trying, Telltale can’t nail an effective fight scene. The ones found in Guardians of the Galaxy are particularly egregious, usually framed in a poor manor that leaves the button prompts in the periphery of where the shot wanted me to look. Quick time events in 2017, a whole decade after they fell out of fashion, is bad enough. Making them harder to spot thanks to Telltale’s poor cinematography is just otherworldly.
Telltale seems to be aware of this by making them extremely forgiving. Either the window for action is long and drawn out by slo-mo effects, or a lack of action fails to change the outcome. Either way, Telltale needs to step up their game.
The rest of the visuals work well for Telltale’s style. The cast pop with a Disney Infinity, Saturday morning cartoon, flair. Star Lord and Gammorra may not look like Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana, but they’re recognizable enough to not make the difference jarring. The same can be said of the voice cast, who turn in performances that are close enough to get the job done.
Thematically, Guardians of the Galaxy lays its cards on the table early on. Set in a separate universe than the Marvel film series, the team kill Thanos. In the aftermath, a lot is placed on Star Lord (Read: The Player), to keep the team (read: Family), together. It treads a lot of similar ground to the newest film. The Guardians are a family. Families argue. Again, High-kinks ensue.