Based on the comic book series and developed by Eidos-Montréal (Deus Ex, Shadow of the Tomb Raider), Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is the studio’s first step into the juggernaut that is the Marvel Universe, with its large fanbase to appease. When I first heard that Square Enix was heading back to the Marvel Universe after having done Marvel’s Avengers, admittedly I was hesitant in my approach. But is Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy any good? Thankfully, yes! For the purposes of this review, I played Guardians of the Galaxy on the PlayStation 5.
Unlike the multi-character playstyle of the Avengers title, Guardians of the Galaxy is a single player campaign-based game. Most importantly, gone are the microtransactions and multifaceted story arks. This game follows a single character in a linear timeline, and I believe that this is why I enjoyed it so much more.
The game opens with Peter Quill as a teenager in the 80s, sitting on his bed and listening to a rock cassette from his favourite band, Star-Lord. His mother enters the room and questions when he’s going to venture upstairs for his birthday cake. After a short exchange, Peter gets out of bed, and we get our first feel of the controls. The character is in third person view and we can interact with various objects around the bedroom. Upon leaving the room through the door, the game cuts back to the Milano where Drax is waking Peter Quill up and I was instantly in stiches. Yes, that’s right, the game is hilarious and it is clear that writer, Mary DeMarle did her research. The quick wit and chemistry between the team is on-point and matches the tone I’ve come to expect from Guardians of the Galaxy.
As I dive into the first mission, the team bicker and argue and I was pleasantly surprised to find myself with choices in my responses. Whilst, as mentioned, the game is linear in nature, there are also some role-playing mechanics to the gameplay. I could either side with one of my comrades or try to rally the team together. Although there are choices throughout the game that steer the plot into a certain direction, there is only one true ending. The choices throughout the game are mostly 50/50 and generally tend to influence the direction of the conversation. The choice of this game style is clever as it adds longevity to the game as a whole. Meaning, that every play through is different and allows you to explore options and pathways you did not choose previously.
The fighting style of Guardians of the Galaxy is just as fun and exciting as the writing. As the game progresses, you can unlock different abilities of each character. To start with, Groot has the ability to tie down foes with his branches and Rocket is able to throw a grenade into a group of foes. Each of these abilities are triggered by holding in L1, selecting a character and then their subsequent ability. In Guardians of the Galaxy, these abilities are not just for fighting but they can also assist in solving puzzles as you make your way through the levels. This reminded me of the fantastic LEGO games I have played in the past, where each character can perform specific tasks. During a fight, it is important to time the use of these abilities at just the right moment because each of them has a cool down period. If you trigger them too early, you may end up worse off. Not to worry though, because when the chips are down you can trigger a Huddle.
The best way to describe a Huddle is that it is like a time out during a sports match. It allows you to regroup and hear from the Guardians about what is going wrong with the fight. Each of the Guardians will drop some hints and it is up to you as the player to pick a response to rally the team back into the fight. If you choose correctly, when the fight resumes, you’ll have some increased strength and a classic 80’s rock track that will play to hype you up. Choose poorly and you’re back into the fight without any added benefit, and well, the musical track is something you’ll have to experience for yourself. Trust me, it is worth it.
This leads me to the soundtrack as a whole. My first play of the game was in Streamer Mode as I was live on Twitch and wanted to avoid any copyright infringements. I restarted the game with it switched off and this just increased the enjoyment of the game tenfold. There are 28 licensed tracks that range from A-ha’s classic ‘Take On Me‘ to Twisted Sister’s ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It‘ and Mötley Crüe’s ‘Kickstart My Heart‘. There are also 10 incredible original tracks under the title of the games fictional group Star-Lord. The choice of songs are fantastic and play into the ‘Awesome Mix Vol 1 & 2’ from the films. They also provide the best backing music as you fight your way through the galaxy.
Overall, Guardians of the Galaxy has a bit of everything. It’s fun, visually stunning with its dynamic colours and designs, has exciting fighting mechanics, contains quick wit with hilarious dialogue, has a catalog of catchy music that will keep you pumped, and it is a perfectly balanced action RPG. There are also collectibles throughout the game that can unlock new and stylish outfits for your team. While I didn’t complete the game prior to writing this review (I only got up to about Chapter 5), it is abundantly clear that this game is only going to get better and better, and I cannot wait to finish it. It is also likely that I will playthrough the game again to witness the results of the alternate choices I didn’t make the first time round.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is out now and available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, XBox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch and Microsoft Windows.