The Guardians hit the ground running in the debut episode of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series, laying a very good foundation for what’s to come as the series progresses. But episode two, “Under Pressure”, has to ensure it doesn’t falter in the middle like the previous one did and deliver a fully engaging piece of storytelling throughout. Can Telltale Games deliver?
Well, I’ll tell you, just get ready for spoilers in regards to the first episode…
I initially feared, and to a degree still do, that killing off one of the Guardian’s biggest foes was a massively risky creative decision to undertake from Telltale’s point of view. Fortunately, a member of the Kree stepped into those large shoes and made a mark by, temporarily, killing Star-Lord in a bid to retrieve the Eternity Forge artifact and use it for evil – like all baddies do. Now it’s about trying to protect the artifact and understand what it can do.
In “Under Pressure”, the real focus is on Rocket, delving into his past and figuring out why he’s after the Eternity Forge and its magical powers. It takes us back to his days in the lab, trying to survive and escape with his seemingly one true love. This is a welcome change, albeit a sad one, from all the usual commotion surrounding the Guardians. Being able to understand what motivates him, underneath all that bravado and wit, is great.
That doesn’t mean the rest of the gang are neglected, with them all having a role to play outside of the flashback; well, apart from Groot who mainly just hangs around declaring ‘I am Groot’, as he does. Gamora’s relationship with her sister gets some serious testing during a well fought contest, leaving Nebula to harbour more resentment. Drax just wants to destroy everyone and anyone, which although rather one dimensional at the moment – I expect we’ll see more in future outings – suits the character greatly.
For those who prefer the action packed moments, as opposed to the character building, there’s plenty to be had here via the, now standard, Quick Time Events. Each battle serves a very different purpose, with arguably all three helping to drive the narrative forward and remind players of the current threats amongst the flashbacks.
As for the locations to visit, you’ll spend a fair bit of time on the Milano, whilst Knowhere is a destination to venture to once more. What stands out the most is a wonderful neon district of a planet, which just offers a place of greater vibrancy than anywhere else that appears on the journey so far.
You’ll get the chance to make use of the fabulous technology possessed by Star-Lord again, rocket boosting to different height levels and recreating what’s happened before in an area needing to be explored. That all works really well and is interesting enough, but if you remember, I had a problem in episode one with slow and pointless portions in which I was able to move Star-Lord around on the Milano. Although a similar activity arises, there’s a music system to play tunes throughout the ship to add a little extra excitement to the often limited conversations available. It features songs from the first episode which is pretty cool.
It’s worth noting that there are other tracks – that we’ve not heard in the previous episode – and I doff my cap to the people in charge of musical choices and the placement of them. Although there are only two different tracks, both do a very important job in dictating the mood of proceedings. The King Harvest version of “Dancing in the Moonlight” not only puts a smile on my face as the gang flies around the galaxy, but it’s a real toe tapper and gets me rather hyped for the rest of the episode. The other track featured, performed by Sparks, suitably offers a great accompanying soundtrack to a conflict and helps in setting the pace of the action.
Whilst I adore the musical inclusions, the sound in general goes through a few hiccups along the way, fluctuating in volume and some sounds ending abruptly. It doesn’t detract too much from the goings on, but having the sound effects blasting out and then being as quiet as a mouse is a tad irritating.
There’s far more to the Guardians of the Galaxy than fighting and great tunes, as is shown in episode two, with emotional depth being provided for much loved characters such as Rocket. Even Star-Lord is growing on me, despite not having the most unique of voiceovers. I feel for the guy having to balance his own desires alongside the rest of the team who are constantly butting heads over issues that arise. More so as I’m tasked with making decisions, taking sides and wondering how on earth it’ll come back to haunt me in later episodes.
Episode two is a bloody good continuation of the Guardians of the Galaxy adventures, with genuine laughter, plenty of happiness and occasional sadness to be had. There’s a well balanced variety to it, from start to finish, of Quick Time Event scenes, heart to hearts and general comradery. The music really adds an extra layer of greatness to what’s occurring in the world of the Guardians, but the sound problems let it down elsewhere. Whilst much of the storytelling has a point, I still find a couple of conversations to be really lacklustre and one of the flashbacks gives me a bout of the yawns.
Still, “Under Pressure” is a really solid second outing from Telltale Games and reminds me a great deal of the ‘Tales from the Borderlands’ series. So if you enjoyed that, give the Guardians a shot!