2021 was a big year for gaming, from a wealth of stellar indies to massive AAA hits like Halo Infinite and Deathloop. Amidst the fall rush of titles, one of the biggest surprises of the year might have been passed up by many players, especially going off the negative reception to Marvel’s Avengers. Already, less than six months later, the game is now on a pretty big sale discount that’s hard to pass up.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy truly embraces the spirit of its source material and manages to create one of the most engaging, emotional experiences in years. The game is currently 40 percent off on the PlayStation Store, until February 10, 2022, and it’s the perfect time to jump in.
Although it’s based on the comics, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy takes place in a new universe featuring brand new versions of the characters, just like Avengers and Spider-Man. The game’s strongest quality is its steadfast dedication to storytelling, with each member of the Guardians getting their own development arc across the wider narrative.
Star-Lord is the beating heart of the group, with a fascinating story that puts a unique spin on the overused father-daughter trope. Drax is the other standout as he manages to be comedic, like his film counterpart, but also brings an incredible emotional depth. One of the most poignant scenes in recent memory depicts Drax and Star-Lord opening up about their trauma. You just don’t see that kind of vulnerability in games that often.
The party is constantly chatting as you explore various different worlds around the galaxy, and the amount of dialogue in the game is truly staggering. Even more impressive is how reactive so much of it feels, with party members commenting on whatever you choose to have Star-Lord do. For example, if you choose to go off the beaten path and look for treasure, Rocket might comment on how Star-Lord is always wasting time and getting distracted.
The team dynamic applies to much more than the story, however, as it ties in directly to every gameplay system as well. In combat, you control Star-Lord directly but can issue a variety of different commands to your team. Each Guardian has a gauge that builds up, and when full you can command them to execute a special attack. Past that, though, your team can interact with different parts of the environment, like Drax picking up and throwing a boulder.
GotG’s combat feels like a mix between a third-person shooter and a brawler, but it works surprisingly well. Everything feels surprisingly fluid, especially once you get the whole group together. Add a few extra skills, and things really start to take off. Just like with the story, there’s a real sense of camaraderie in battles, and the other Guardians do a surprisingly good job of holding their own.
Topping off the positives on story and gameplay is the visual style of GotG. Eidos Montreal has done an incredible job of creating a visually diverse and fascinating universe, and oftentimes it feels like you’re staring at an animated page of the comics. GotG’s visual style feels particularly notable after Marvel’s Avengers, which was filled with countless levels of the same generic military base, city, and canyon. A stellar voice cast and impressive facial animation also help add even more emotional heft to the big scenes.
GotG isn’t without its problems, as some of the traversal and puzzle-solving can feel a bit too obtuse and simplistic. Any problems the game has, however, are completely overshadowed by what the game does so well. It’s understandable that players would have been hesitant after the disappointment of Marvel’s Avengers, and admittedly Square Enix’s marketing campaign doesn’t really do a great job of capturing GotG’s strong points. It’s a game that gets its hooks in you early and never lets up until the very last second.
It’s hard to imagine a story that could do a better job of representing the core themes of Guardians of the Galaxy: confronting trauma and finding family in the unlikeliest of places. Whether you’re a fan of Guardians of the Galaxy or not, it’s an experience you won’t forget anytime soon.
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