Flark me, Guardians of the Galaxy is GOTY material. I got the privilege to play this early and man, I absolutely loved every second of it.
First, I want to say that it’s not Marvel’s Avengers. Far from it, Guardians of the Galaxy is a fully single-player game that you know, ends when you beat it. There’s no endless loot-grinding or repeating the same missions over and over again and no microtransactions. It has a start and a finish and the whole journey flarking rocks.
James Gunn truly changed the Guardians of the Galaxy with his movies, made them somewhat more appealing and interesting giving Quill that whole 80’s rock vibe with the music, movie references, and all that other good stuff we all have loved for the past couple of years.
Felt cute, might delete later..
This game uses that same rock n’ roll whole vibe while telling a completely original story you’ll help shape along the way somewhat retaining the original backstory from the comics for all of the characters that are present in the game. There are winks and nods to the Guardians we know, but this adventure is something you’ve never seen before. And it’s a fantastic ride, start to finish.
So in this universe, it’s been 12 years since the Galactic War, waged against civilized species by the monstrous Chitauri, wreaked havoc throughout the known universe.
You play as Peter Quill (a.k.a. Star-Lord), an ex-space pirate, half-human, with a heart of gold. With the war over and life as a Ravager behind him, Peter put together a motley crew called the Guardians of the Galaxy. Many in the galaxy haven’t heard of the Guardians of the Galaxy. Some still consider them well, just a bunch of pirates. And no one really considers them heroes, yet. No matter what, there are still “bills” to pay so more often than not, the jobs this team has to take on are of a questionable nature.
During one of these jobs, which at first seems like a simple grab and go, they inadvertently unleash a massive evil force that kinda puts the whole universe at risk. Like it or not, they have to clean up their mess and well, save the whole flarking universe. I just don’t want to spoil it for you cause it is such a great story and it’s best if you go in blind and experience it for yourself, that’s why I am being extra careful with what I can say.
It’s a fantastic journey that sends the team to some very exotic locations where they meet some quirky and intriguing allies and fight against some exciting enemies, that you may or may not have seen before. I think I can mention them, as they have been introduced in the trailers for the game, that you’ll interact with Lady Hellbender, the monster queen with a massive beast army which Drax has the hots for I might add, or Grand Unifier Raker, the main-ish villain of the story head of the Universal Church of Truth.
Lady Hellbender doesn’t take too kindly being swindled by the Guardians and puts a bounty on their heads while Raker will stop at nothing to accomplish his grand goal and I will leave it at that.
As for the allies, you will fall in love with the good boy Cosmo, you know I did, the telepath soviet space dog which keeps everyone in check in Knowhere as head of security there and the quirky Mantis which is exactly where she needs to be when she needs to be there. Of course, there are many other ones, same goes for the villains, but again, I don’t want to spoil any of that for you cause every one of these interactions is so so good.
Honey, I bought a zoo
The writing is just fantastic and when combined with the excellent voice acting, man, you are in for a treat. I wish I could talk more about the story, premise, and stakes, I truly do, but again, I don’t want to spoil anything for you. And I would advise you to be very careful of spoilers in other reviews or videos you might read or watch.
So what about the team itself? Well, the way they are portrayed in the game is flarking awesome. Even though it’s not an origin story, as the team has already been together for a while and done a couple of missions, as Pyotr Quill (that how Cosmo calls Peter and I flarking love it) you will get to talk to all of them, explore more of their past and learn about their motivations inside the Milano after each mission. They may bicker, have heated arguments, and not see eye to eye for some things every so often, but, you know, that stuff does happen in a family. And that’s what I really loved the most about this game. They feel like real people, each with a painful past, each fighting their own demons. You get to explore all of that and it’s beautiful.
Peter saw his mother getting killed by the Chitauri and was abducted and thrown to a space prison at a very young age. Gamora was the daughter of Thanos and had to do some despicable and heavy stuff for him as you’ll learn in the story. Drax had to witness Thanos kill his wife and child and went mad trying to find and get his revenge. Groot is the last one of his species. Rocket was a freak lab experiment and suffered for years until he finally escaped with the help of a loved one he ultimately lost. They have suffered a lot, each in their own way, and now being part of the Guardians of the Galaxy, is the closest thing to a family.
But it’s not all doom and gloom, of course. Their banter, during missions and inside the Milano is flarking hilarious. They play so well with each other, it’s addictive. Peter is a lovable douchebag so good with words he can practically get away from pretty much everything just by talking. Drax is the literal one, interpreting what others say based on the actual meaning of the terms used and it is hilarious. Rocket is hot-headed, always ready to light up the place with his cannon, calls everyone and everything silly names and always messing with the rest of the team. Gamora keeps most of the stuff to herself but soon learns that opening up, talking, and joining in on the fun is good for the mind and soul. And Groot well, is Groot, always level-headed, cracking jokes here and there only Rocket can understand.
It’s so fun to see how they live inside the Milano and what they do in their spare time. For example, you will see Drax read a book on sarcasm and comment on it, or you'll sneak up on Gamora while she is browsing, I guess, the equivalent of space Ebay looking for dolls to add to her collection or Groot expanding his collection of exotic plants he picks up across all the different planets you visit. Or how everyone seems to use Peter’s toothbrush to clean their “stuff” or how no one ever seems to close the fridge’s door. There are tons of small details like these, blink and you miss it moments that give these characters more depth and life and I highly encourage you to take time and fully explore the ship after each mission.
Guardians of the Galaxy is a linear single-player game meaning that you don’t have much agency in what mission to do or where to go. However, during these missions, often, at pivotal narrative moments, even while bantering with the team, you will be presented with dialog decisions that will shape how the rest of the tale unfolds. For example, you might defuse a situation or turn an enemy friendly which might help you later down the line or affect what happens in the final moments of the game. Choose wisely... or not... it’s up to you, after all!
The missions will take you all across the galaxy, from places you might have seen in the MCU movies and series to new ones and they all are gorgeous to explore, but more on that later. You only play as Peter, who believes that looking good is just as important as kicking some serious ass. That’s why he’s got the sweet leather jacket, rocket boots, and a pair of Elemental Blasters. Throughout your adventure, you’ll unlock new powers for the Elemental Blasters, including the ability to freeze, zap, light them on fire and pull them closer to you. Not only will this give you more options in battle, but you’ll use your Elemental Blasters to navigate strange alien landscapes and solve some light environmental puzzles, more on exploration in a little bit.
Combat is a lot of fun. Shooting your blasters feels quite nice, especially with the Dualsense’s adaptive triggers and haptic feedback. As you win fights with enemies, you’ll gain experience. The more spectacular your carnage, the higher your style rating. When you’ve mopped up the rest of the baddies, you’ll be awarded experience based on your performance. You can spend these skill points to unlock new combat abilities not only for Peter but also for the rest of the team.
You see, while you only control Peter, mid-combat you can issue orders to the rest of the team and have them perform special attacks on specific enemies. Every encounter is a team effort and it’s quite fun to mix and match the different attacks or support abilities of the team. So for example you might start the encounter with Rocket’s “Gravistack Grenade” that pulls enemies together in one place, use Gamora’s “Shadow Strike” where she slashes each and every one of them, follow up with Groot’s “Entangle” where he grapples multiple enemies in place, use Drax’s “Katathian Charge” where he charges forward dealing damage to everything in his path and finish up with Peter’s “Eye of the Hurricane” where he carpet bombs enemies over a large area for massive damage.
As you progress through specific points in the story, each guardian will unlock their final fourth “ultimate” ability which creates even more possibilities for cool combo attacks. And if all of that is not enough, you can Huddle Up. When the Huddle meter is full you call the Guardians in for some motivation. Listen to what your team has to say, read the words floating behind them, and then pick the right dialog option to inspire refocus them. Get it right, and your entire team gets a boost. Get it wrong, and Star-Lord still gets buffed, but everyone else isn’t happy.
One of the licensed 80’s hits from the excellent soundtrack will start to play and it’s rock and roll baby! I never expected to kick so much alien ass while “Never Gonna Give You Up” from Rick Astley played in the background. The “Huddle Up” is especially helpful during the interesting boss fights which I will not spoil here, but again, are a lot of fun to go through as you will work as a team to bring them down.
However, I have a minor complaint with the whole Huddle Up mechanic. You see, once that is active, in lower difficulties you end up killing everyone very very quickly and you don’t get to enjoy the full song. So most of the time, after huddling up, I would just run around and listen to the songs while the rest of the guardians fought the battle for me. Luckily there’s a higher difficulty setting which makes encounters tougher, but also you can also completely create a custom difficulty setting where you can tweak a lot of things like damage dealt or taken, ability cooldowns timers and so much more.
Combat is one part with exploration the other part of the gameplay. While each level is pretty linear, there are some slightly hidden areas spread out here and there. To access these areas, often, you have to rely on your team as Groot, for example, might build a bridge you can walk on or elevate a platform so you can reach a high area. The same for Gamora where the can serve as an anchor you can use to jump higher or she can cut something which in turn drops something Drax can pick up and move around the level so Peter can use it to reach the hidden area. Usually, you find materials that you can use to unlock perks like active reload for your blasters or increase your stats, but also you will find trinkets that unlock dialogue options inside the Milano and alternative looks and outfits based on comics and MCU movies for all of the guardians.
And I would say that the pacing between combat, banter, and exploring is really well-done. Combat encounters do not drag, exploration is quite nice and rewarding and the whole banter between those two things is just fantastic.
As for the presentation well, the game looks and sounds fantastic. Currently, in the game, there are two modes, Quality which is 4K at 30fps, and Performance with dynamic 4K at 60fps with a Ray Tracing mode coming in a later update. I just recently picked up an LG C1 OLED and oh boy, I am so glad I did. The environmental art, the vibrant colors, the amazing lighting, and the insane level of detail make Guardians of the Galaxy one of the best-looking games I’ve ever played. Each location is wonderful to look at and explore with tons of small details that make every location unique. You will explore many cool alien planets and massive planet-sized space ships and stations, each with their own unique environments that are just drop-dead gorgeous to look at. Expect your Twitter feed to be filled with beautiful shots from the game, I myself will post a flark ton of them after the embargo is up.
On a level for, you get to explore Knowhere and it’s just filled with hidden detail where every corner has a story to tell. It’s a beautiful place filled with sleazy merchants and even shadier aliens that will try to swindle or straight up steal your hard-earned, stolen but I digress, units. You should take your time to fully explore each location, scan as many objects with Star-Lord’s visor, and read everything you come across. There are tons of easter eggs to find and enjoy and again, please just take your time to fully explore everything.
The licensed tracks are well, fantastic, and expertly used in some levels as background music, but the original tracks under the fake “Star-Lord” group that they created just for the game are also just fantastic. They absolutely slap and I have been listening to “Zero to Hero” a lot of flarking times as I am writing this review.
Characters look fantastic too, with amazing body and facial animations and extremely well-done voice acting. Honestly, I don’t know if I like the MCU actors or the ones in the game more. They are just perfectly cast.
I absolutely loved every second of the Guardians of the Galaxy game of my 18-hour playthrough. You read the review and if you still need convincing, this is our Game of the Year for 2021. It’s a fantastic game, with a fantastic story, fantastic visuals and music, and overall badass gameplay. Eidos Montreal and Square Enix knocked it out of the park. This game flarking rocks! Thanks for reading.
The game was reviewed on a PS5 using a review code provided by the publisher. Guardians of the Galaxy is available on PC, Playstation, Xbox and Switch.