Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series hit the ground running with the premier episode. Delivering a solid, if not exceptional new take on the increasingly popular franchise, Telltale had successfully crafted their own story within the Marvel universe. It was a perfect fit in a lot of ways, with Telltale excelling at humor and drama, as seen in Tales from the Borderlands. But could they keep the success going for the whole five episode series? It seems so, with Episode 2 “Under Pressure” improving on the already good first episode, while being held back just a bit by some troubling problems.
In pretty much all of my reviews of Telltale episodes I say the same thing. “This episode picks up right where the last one left off.” This is especially true for Guardians of the Galaxy – Episode 2, as it literally picks up mid-sentence, possibly even mid-word, from the end of the last episode. Star-Lord has been revived from death thanks to the power of the Eternity Forge. Its ability to bring back the dead is obviously a significant development, with many of the Guardians holding onto some guilt or regret involving a now deceased person. Then we have the vengeful Kree wanting to use it to resurrect their people, and there’s the recently killed Thanos to consider. Now our heroes have to figure out how best to use this new device, while keeping it out of the hands of their enemies.
Episode 2 – “Under Pressure” really solidifies the style of this new Telltale series. Guardians of the Galaxy presents a uniquely fitting set of characters for the developer’s signature formula. They did a decent job of handling everything in Episode 1, but this second entry really shows their talent at crafting both humorous and touching stories, often involving multiple characters at once.
Guardians of the Galaxy presents a uniquely fitting set of characters for the developer’s signature formula.
Giving the player more breathing room, you can spend a lot more time talking with your fellow Guardians. Getting a sense of where they’re at psychologically, what is motivating them in the current adventure, and making significant decisions that shape how they look at Peter and the rest of the team. And while it’s always hard to tell if these choices are consequential in the grand scheme of things, they feel consequential when you make them. I’ve already found myself weighing choices in regards to how the various team members will react, and many times I’ve changed my mind to try to garner favor with someone that I’d scorned earlier in the game.
What makes this more impactful is that Guardians of the Galaxy – Episode 2 lets players dive deeper into one character’s background. As teased before release, Rocket has a focus partway through this episode. He’s not the sole focus, but if players so choose they can get a great look at his origin, allowing them a deeper understanding of the character. This short side adventure is also the source of some fantastic storytelling, offering some truly touching and moving moments within the framework of a space opera setting.
The main story moves along at a decent pace as well, though this specific episode doesn’t move things forward all that much. It’s more of a transitive episode, shifting from the opening toward what the real story for this series will be. At the end of Guardians of the Galaxy – Episode 2 we aren’t all that much closer to a conclusion than we were at the end of Episode 1. Instead this episode mainly sets up relationships among the crew, and prepares players for what’s to come. That wouldn’t be a problem at all, except that the cliffhanger ending is a little lackluster, eschewing a groan rather than shocked surprise.
That’s to be expected from episodic series like this, but not quite to this degree. It’s usually better to end on a bang, propelling players into the following episode with excitement. Episode 2 doesn’t end on a whimper, but it’s kind of close to it. This can be redeemed by Episode 3, but we’ll have to wait a while to see.
The only other fault for Guardians of the Galaxy – Episode 2 are the now default technical problems that plague most Telltale releases. When they take their time and stabilize the game they can be largely avoided. It doesn’t seem that that happened for Episode 2 though, as there were many animation and framerate problems throughout. The auto-save feature seems to be the biggest cause, with multiple scenes looking quite choppy whenever the game took time to save. Characters also moved in some odd ways, lip syncing had some problems, and there were a few larger glitches, such as characters teleporting around. These instances aren’t too common, but each one takes away from the experience in a big way.
Despite this, Guardians of the Galaxy – Episode 2 “Under Pressure” pushes this series forward quite well. The characters are taking shape, the story is engaging, the universe is complex and intriguing, and the choices feel significant. This episode is better than its predecessor in a number of ways, though the few problems it has hold it back a bit more. It seems that Telltale might be onto another fantastic series, if they can just get the technical aspects under control, and dive deeper into the overall plot.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series – Episode 2 is another great episode from the developer. Players will be hooked quickly, with a diverse and interesting cast of characters. As you explore the galaxy, you also explore the many relationships among the team. By the end of this episode you won’t have much more information about the main story, but you will be more attached to the Guardians, and will have already shaped the story into your own take.