During the close credits of Guardians of the Galaxy’s second episode, I was curious to see how my decisions to date racked up against those made by others playing the game. As was the case in episode one, I was both relieved and somewhat disappointed that the choices I had made were generally on par with everyone else. However, that all changed in episode three – subtitled ‘More Than A Feeling’ – when in the closing moments of the chapter, I was forced to make a decision that could finally have significant repercussions on what comes next. Unfortunately, getting to that point feels like somewhat of a slog. It should go without saying that spoilers abound beyond this point.
The episode opens with Peter Quill and Gamora arriving on a planet which potentially holds the key to unlocking the Eternity Forge, a Kree artifact that replays memories and has the potential to resurrect the dead. After another quick trip down memory lane for Quill, the focus shifts to Gamora where we are treated to a flashback that not only features Thanos, but also gets to the core of the murderous sibling rivalry between her and Nebula.
Much like the Rocket-centric acts in episode two, these scenes demonstrate that Telltale’s writers are at their best when fleshing out their characters. In an additional twist, players get to revisit Gamora’s memory from the perspective of Nebula and being given two sides of the same coin both informs our decisions and rips them in two. At one point Quill has to diffuse the tension between the two sisters and while the main plot inevitably overshadows your dialogue choices, it will be interesting to see if this will come back to haunt you in a later episode.
Episode three also brings a new character into the Guardians’ ranks in the form of the empath Mantis. While her addition to the crew brings some funny and sweet moments to the dialogue, her introduction is confusing on more than one level. To begin with, this somewhat dilutes any connections the game has to either the comics or the films. While Telltale are more than happy to stand on their own two feet with their video game spin-offs, this muddies the waters somewhat for someone who may already be familiar with the character.
More importantly, the inclusion of Mantis in the game offers up some interesting potential to shake-up the core gameplay, an opportunity which is sadly missed. Her empathic abilities could have been used more to assist in the decision making process or turn that aspect of the game completely on it’s head. However, after her initial introduction it seems that her overall inclusion in the game is purely a narrative one, as she uses her knowledge and powers to guide the rest of the Guardians to the next destination on their journey. Still, it’s nice to see the world’s weirdest romance develop between her and Drax in some touching, often hilarious scenes.
As great as flashback scenes and new characters when it comes to world-building, most of episode three feels stretched out, filled with unnecessary padding before the climactic fifth act. One scene in particular has the Guardians’ at loggerheads, sitting around in a bar, waiting for Peter Quill to sort out their problems. Scenes like this have become prominent in all episodes so far and as much as it’s fun to see these characters rile each other up, it gets to a point where you just want to hit the main plot at warp speed.
The final act involves a combination of investigatory puzzle solving and all-out action. It’s one of the best scenes in the episode and indeed the series’ to date, Putting the individual strengths of the Guardians’ to good use, players get the chance to flit between characters and a way that has not been seen since the opening moments of episode one. Telltale veterans will be familiar with the Quick-Time reaction tests that make up the combat sequences but it’s still a nail-biting finish to a chapter that desperately needed a little more in the way of excitement and pacing.
To cap it all off comes perhaps one of the most important decisions the game has put to its players. Without going anything further into spoiler territory, this fifty-fifty decision already divides the Guardians’ crew right down the middle, with wider implications having the potential completely split the subsequent chapters of this story down two diverging paths. With episode four on the way, it will be interesting to see if Telltale put their money where their mouth is and give us consequences of galaxy changing proportions.
Overall, episode three suffers from an overabundance of filler before hitting the final act full throttle. The flashback sequences are fantastic for understanding what makes these beloved characters tick, but do little to expand on the overarching story as a whole. For fans of Telltale, the game mechanics make up the same familiar playlist of previous spin-offs, so it will be interesting to see whether or not they can use the power of the Eternity Forge in future installments to remix their classic formula altogether.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to email@example.com.
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