The first episode is frenetic in pace. The game covers a lot of ground before the first set of credits roll, and among other things, you'll have a fight with certified comic book bad boy Thanos, get to establish your role in the Guardians, get introduced to the MacGuffin and deal with a major character's death and rebirth. This is only about a third of the story beats the game hits and, coupled with the raft of choices you're offered, it's relentless.
The options at least don't seem to do too much now, but will undoubtedly show up later down the line. It's hard to tell how deep Telltale will play with the possible division of the Guardians, and whether we'll get the payoff from these early choices, but for now, it feels engaging. There's a lot of threads, ready to be pulled together. I'm a little concerned that we don't seem to have a particularly strong antagonist in the central thrust of the story, but it's hard to judge things from the story at this stage.
Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series is great looking, albeit with the lack of licensed likenesses, the characters appear instead like the pound-store variants of the ones you know and love. Starlord is a non-descript white guy with a non-committal smirk... and in the game. Meanwhile, Gamora shares hardly any similarities with her movie version, aside from the green-hued skin. Still, the facial animations are decent, and the environments are interesting to explore, and varied.
There's a lot to like here, and the game genuinely is well-made and exciting.
The problem is that none of this matters. Whether you should buy the game, and how much you'll enjoy it, will largely come down to two big questions, and they are questions you should ask yourself with every game Telltale releases at the moment: Do you like the sound of the license? Can you stomach more of Telltale's schtick?
If you answer yes to both, then you should pick up the title, and you'll dig it. If you answer no to one or both of the questions, though? Perhaps approach this with caution, no matter how well made it is.
Telltale has a real skill for taking pre-existing worlds and making them sing, and the work with licensed properties has nearly single-handedly turned around the perception that games based on cinematic franchises are often much weaker than the movies they ape. Unfortunately, it has been doing it in this same way for so long that it now feels possible to get tired of a game you haven't even played yet, no matter how good it is.
Having played it, Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series feels immediately like the 10-15 other seasons of interactive storytelling that have been previously released. Yes, it's well-made, fairly well-written and ticks a lot of the boxes I wanted it to hit, but I was secretly hoping Telltale might hand over more than the same game it has released multiple times already. The game is a ringing endorsement for Telltale's brand of storytelling, but also a clear signal that Telltale needs to shake up the games it releases.
It's tough to say because Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series Episode 1 is a solid release, but it's hard to recommend this to anyone but fans of Telltale's work or Marvel's space opera.