Developer: Eidos Montreal
Publisher: Square Enix
Release Date: October 26, 2021
Price: $59.99 MSRP
Available on: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC, and Nintendo Switch via Cloud Streaming.
Total Playtime: 26 Hours – Platinum Trophy Obtained
Marvel has had a huge amount of games that have come out on many consoles in the past few years with most of them being extremely well received. Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 came out in 2019 which Nintendo brought this franchise back from the dead from the crazy announcement at TGA 2018. There is also Marvel’s Spider-Man and Marvel’s Miles Morales from the crazy developers at Insomniac Games which are two fantastic titles that showcase the phenomenal web slinging powers that they have. Lastly, there is Marvel’s Avengers which Square Enix developed with Crystal Dynamics which is a GAAS title that hasn’t done as well as they hoped it would. Obviously each of these games have their own styles of play, their own story lines, have released on different consoles, and developed by many talented people. Most recently, Marvel has now come out with a Guardians of the Galaxy game that was developed by Eidos Montreal/Square Enix and it was an extreme surprise for me.
Square Enix and the team over at Eidos Montreal has created a single player, action adventure game where you play as the leader of the Guardians of the Galaxy. The game has an incredible amount of story and passion put into the overall experience as you basically jump right in and find yourself in the face of Peter Quill, aka Star Lord. However, you aren’t him as an adult at the beginning of the game, instead you take control of him as a younger kid on his 13th birthday. You learn about his backstory throughout the game with flashbacks to his past about happened on Earth before he came to space. That’s just one part of the story though, and it is a very miniscule part. The other part of the story, which is the main part, is when you are him as the leader of the Guardians when he is an adult.
You only play as Peter Quill throughout the entire story as you are being put into the shoes of the leader. The other members are in the game; however, you are not able to play as them. This actually enhances the experience in my opinion and it doesn’t diminish it even though it might seem like it would. Throughout the 26 hours that I put into it; there is a huge amount of things to do. In the game, you play as Peter Quill who needs to learn how to lead the team of Guardians through lots of different bumpy issues and problems and very tough choices. Throughout the story, you learn that there is something called the Church of Truths and this group is basically falsely claiming that things that have happened in the past can be reversed if you believe they can be. This sets up most of what happens in the game with you having to try to figure out what is right, and what is wrong. I will not say more about this, but it is pretty darn intense.
The story in the game isn’t just as straightforward as you might think as there are lots of tough choices that you have to make that have branching paths overall. In a way, its a mixture of Detroit Become Human and Life is Strange where the choice you make for the non-skippable moments affect the outcome and locations you go to. Although, they all seem to lean to the same ending in the long run for the most part for the main non skippable choices. There are options that are also skippable, and these give you enough time to figure out what you want to do and these do lead to different paths overall. These skippable ones help you with key items that you can only get if you pick the right choice(s) or may get you allies or enemies. Skippable ones and non-skippable ones are key features of enhancing the story and you as the leader have to make the choice of what occurs.
Throughout the game, there are some scenarios that you must determine if they are fake, or if you believe they are actually real and you accept them. There are so many different themes and emotions are in the game including but not limited to: loss, lies, trust, sadness, happiness, treachery, and humor. The actually got me a little bit in tears because some of the scenes I can relate to and/or it was powerfully showcased in a way I haven’t seen done in a while. This game is not a rehash of the first two GOTG movies, which I absolutely love since I have already seen them and I wanted something new. There are 16 chapters in the game, plus a prologue chapter so it isn’t super short but at the same time, it isn’t super long. The story is an amazing experience that I seriously don’t want to spoil any more than what I have said, but I will say that it is in my top 5 stories of the year, at this point.
Gameplay is one of the most important parts of any game in my opinion. I talked about the way in which you have times when there are skippable options and non-skippable options to enhance or change the story, but that’s not the only time when you have choices to make or discussions with others. There are times when you have a option to be one-on-one or in small groups with the 4 other guardians on the team in different scenarios. These choices are not really gonna change the story of the overall game, rather you get to learn more about each of the backstories of the guardians, or things that they are thinking about at the present time. Besides talking with the team, you also can banter and chat with them while exploring the different planets that you visit throughout the length of the game.
In the sixteen chapters, there is a mixture of exploration, banter between characters, puzzles, quick-time events and more. The exploration is mostly within a small area and isn’t super massive but at times there are parts where you can explore to your heart’s content. If you go off a beaten path to look for different items and collectables, the team will “trash” talk about you taking too long. There are QTEs scattered throughout the game, but they aren’t in any way shape or form overbearing. Also, some levels require dog fighting in space and those are really cool. There are puzzles that are in the game that are fairly simplistic but there are hidden things within these puzzles if you look hard enough. Some of these puzzles include routing electric currents but, I recommend that you don’t do the final solution first, make sure to look as there are hidden collectables that can be found there.
There are many different collectables that are scattered throughout the different worlds. Some of these include different costumes for the team ranging from brand new looks for this game, a look at the 2014 movie costumes, and even older ones from comics back in the day. These are not the only collectables as there is also different items that relate to each of the team members that you find throughout the different planets. There are things like dolls for Gamora, some electronic items for Rocket, a piece of Groot in a little container, and a weapon that is part of Drax’s family heritage. There are many for each of them that have their own story lines and you get to understand your fellow team members when finding these. Besides these items and costumes, there are also upgrade items that can be helpful when learning skills for Peter Quill.
There are many ways to power up Peter Quill and also his team members. Some of the ways is by finding upgradable items that can be used at different workbenches around the world and on the ship where Peter can learn new skills. There is a total of 15 of them and they range from health upgrade to more powerful weapon abilities. Besides this, each of the characters have 4 special skills than can be unlocked using ability points. In order to get these, you have to take on battles and fight enemies and once it is finish you earn an amount based on what happened in the battle. 3 of these abilities are able to be unlocked by you specifically but you cannot unlock the 4th one using these. You have to wait for a part in the story when the character overcomes something themself that they were afraid to do. These are very useful and powerful when it comes to late game. Anyway, I have talked about a lot of things in the gameplay, except for fights themselves. So, how is the combat?
Honestly, looking at it just from the basic aspects, it’s not the best in terms of looking at it first glance but there are many things that aren’t apparent right away. It’s like a third person shooter combat style but you get to activate special abilities for each of the Guardians that do different things including stunning them, dealing massive damage, and more. Peter has a twin blaster that you use for the normal attacks and then also has special blasters that he unlocks throughout the game experience including an ice blaster that can freeze enemies and then shatter them, electric ones that can stun them, and two more that you unlock in the adventure. Combos are very helpful in this game and you will learn about different abilities that work well together and what cancels eachother out. There are special times when you can deal special finishing blows with a partner or with the whole team. Lastly, there is also the team huddle where you can pep up the team. Pick the right option in the huddle and you all get a power boost. Pick the wrong one, and you might get a special surprise… you could get rickrolled. The combat happens throughout most of the chapters and its fairly basic combat at first glance, but it takes time to master and learn what to use when. The PS5 haptic feedback on the DualSense is also at use and it is really cool when you use charge shots, an ability you unlock in the game.
Alright, now that I have talked about gameplay and story; which are both amazing, what about the musical score, art style and visuals, personal character development, and the overall package. First the musical score is absolutely amazing. It is just how it really should be as a Guardians game when it has a mixture of new arrangements and music but also old classics. The music that was created for the game is amazing and has a dark and mysterious feel while also feeling upbeat and powerful. However, even with this great music, there is something else about the music and that is the fact that Square and Marvel got old classics to be in the game. Some of these include Take on Me, We’re Not Gonna Take It, We Built This City, Turn Me Loose, and so much more. A mixture of eclectic songs along with new compositions that were created, one never outshines the other in my opinion and they work very well together. The music is such a highlight of the game and it definitely surprised me for what they got in it.
Next, the art style and the overall visuals and performance of the game. In terms of the art style, the game looks absolutely stunning and I honestly was floored with how much variety was in there from snowy areas to areas of lush forest, to darker caves. The art of the game is amazing and was for sure something to behold a lot of time in it. There is even a photo mode day 1, which is a plus. Throughout the game on PS5, which is where I played, there is a Performance Mode, and also a Visual Mode. Personally, as much as I loved seeing the game at 4K graphics, it ran at only 30 FPS and for a game with this much action, I needed to switch to the Performance mode which makes the game upscaled resolution at 60FPS. Is the game perfect with absolutely no dips, no. I did see issues throughout the game with certain areas because of everything that was happening there, but it never made the experience worse for me. I did have one crash throughout the entire game and it was at the final boss, Chapter 16, so that made me upset. Other than that one time, I had no other hard crashes and very few issues with the whole game performance wise.
Lastly, in terms of the character development and who the characters are at the beginning of the game compared to the end of it. Firstly, all of the characters are voice acted and all of the voices work for each of them based on their overall character. Secondly, all of the other guardians besides Star Lord have an amazing amount of thought into who they are at the beginning of the game compared to the end. Some of them absolutely do not trust others at the beginning but they all become close to the end of the game. Others have grown from the trauma that is lurking inside of them and they grow from having to do tough choices. In terms of Peter, he is a character that you play as throughout the game solely so it feels like you are growing with him. He is shy about taking a stand against the other Guardians at first, but over the course of the game he learns how to take charge of being the leader and working with the others. Peter and the rest of the members all have an insane amount of character love put into them.
In terms of Marvel games, I have liked many in the past. This game, to be quite honest, might actually be my absolute favorite Marvel game that I can remember of recent years. Spider-Man and Miles Morales are both amazing titles, but they have a bit of filler in them compared to this game, less so in Miles but still some. The story was not expected with some of the twists and turns that happen in it, the character development, the gameplay that it provides, the visuals, and just the overall package is absolutely stunning. All of the little things in the game that may seem insignificant that I never even mentioned also add to the experience of who Peter Quill is. Honestly, if you were hesitant because of any reason at all, this game is absolutely worth the price of admission at $60.00 and is quite packed full of content. Any fan of the franchise or Marvel games in general, this one has a huge amount of passion, heart, and real care into all of the different aspects that make up a great game. Currently, Returnal is my game of the year but after this game, I honestly don’t know anymore and I have to think about it, it is seriously that good! Pick it up and support single player adventure games like this, they are more effective than some people might think!