Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Eidos Montreal
Release Date: 10/21/2021
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Even if you aren’t a fan of the movies I want to say right now that the game is based more off of the comics and original takes on the characters. I’m actually glad Eidos Montreal went this route. The game features a new story and even if you don’t like Guardians of the Galaxy you should enjoy this game as just a pure action-adventure romp. The game is chock-full of humor, clever writing, a great story, and fantastic visuals.
You play solely as Star-Lord the leader of the Guardians. The game’s length is something I want to mention first as it’s fairly long. Running at least 15 hours and there’s honestly not much in terms of venturing off with side quests or anything. This is a very linear game with small side paths that lead to components for upgrades or extra skins, but that’s about it. You start off the game with a story-heavy intro. Tons of licensed 80’s rock music, and right away you can see there’s a lot of care and detail put into this game. Fantastic voice work, great sound effects, and tons of great artwork. The game consists of two main parts. Exploring planets on a linear path that includes light puzzle elements – barely that to be honest – and some platforming. Then there’s the combat which this game relies heavily upon and uses as filler.
Let’s just get the combat out of the way here. As I stated earlier, you only play as Star-Lord and you can order your other three teammates around. When you start out you slowly acquire up to four different abilities for each member including yourself and these are acquired with ability points earned through combat. I feel this is meaningless in the end and felt tacked on as there’s not much strategy involved in combat. You can shoot your pistols until your heat meter fills up and then time the gauge in the green to offload the heat for a burst shot. Then you can mash a melee button as well. Honestly. Star-Lord is fairly weak by himself and I heavily relied on spamming the abilities of my teammates. Even my own abilities were fairly weak in comparison. Drax is a heavy tank while Gemora is like a ninja and can jump around slicing enemies. Groot is eventually upgraded as a healer towards the end of the game, but in the meantime, he can hold enemies in place. Rocket uses explosives and focuses on AoE damage.
This all sounds fine on paper, but in the heat of combat, the different abilities don’t do enough that is different to mean much. I usually just relied on a couple of abilities from each member, mostly AoE-type abilities for maximum damage, and stuck with those through the entire game. I only really used my own pistol barrage ability as well as it was the most useful. Enemies come in usually only three varieties. Easy to kill, medium damage and health, and larger enemies with multiple health bars. The enemies mostly repeat on their respective planets, and then there are the same Promise enemies over and over again. There are a few boss fights thrown in, but they aren’t anything unique or special.
It’s sad that the combat because a dance of spamming the same abilities from your teammates and running around to stay alive. The fact that you yourself do so little damage is really odd. There are a few other contexts thrown in like a bar under larger enemies’ health bar that determines when they are weak. If you spam enough attacks in a row you can then do an instant kill. There are also a few environmental items that you can order teammates to toss around, but it’s very underdeveloped and relies too heavily on these fundamentally useless abilities. The fact that there is so much combat in the game can make it feel like it’s dragging on far too long and is just there for filler. I much preferred the story elements and more exploration areas than the combat.
The exploration is mostly just running around and listening to the banter of the Guardians but also light puzzles in which you must match the correct teammate’s ability with the right obstacle. Gemora can slice things open, Drax can punch through walls, Groot can create bridges, and Rocket can hack panels. There are four weapon elements you acquire such as lightning, ice, fire, and a grapple ability that are used here as well, but it’s not rocket science. Again, another idea that is undercooked and felt like filler. I mostly enjoyed the choices you have to make during the story which determines which allies help you during the final events of the game, and the overall voice work and writing are clever, sharp, and really funny. I just wish the rest of the game had the same care attached to it.
That’s not to say it’s downright bad. The controls are responsive, the animations are smooth and look great, and the combat does work. It’s not clunky or a chore to use it’s just full of underwhelming features. The various planets you explore are fantastic looking and really draw you in and make you feel like you’re in the comics. There are intermissions in between in which you are on the Milano ship and can walk around and explore. There are also easter eggs and lore scattered throughout the game for hardcore fans too. However, the biggest element of all is this enough to warrant sitting through 15-17 hours? If you aren’t a huge Marvel, Guardians of the Galaxy, or comic book hero fan then no. I feel like almost 5 hours could have been cut with less combat thrown in and the story does go on and on. It’s supposed to as you get a solid beginning middle and end. There’s enough run time here to really get you to connect with each character. I didn’t finish the game and have no clue about anyone or care about anything like most video game stories these days. It was daring for Eidos Montreal to really push the story run time and allow you to grow with these characters and it paid off.
Overall, with weak and repetitive combat, mostly useless abilities that don’t allow for any type of strategy, and a weak attempt at environmental puzzle-solving the only saving grace here are the visuals, story, characters, and voice acting. I played this game all the way through because I wanted to see and hear more. It was highly entertaining, but every time I went through a chapter full of nothing but combat I grumbled and just wanted these parts over with. I then enjoyed exploring various planets but got annoyed with the poor attempt at puzzles. If the combat was cut way down and the puzzles were cut out we would have had a perfect run time of maybe 10 hours and the weakest parts less apparent.