The most important thing in a superhero game is that you feel like one of the superheroes, become them. But what actually defines the Guardians of the Galaxy? The team's heroes don't have Spider-Man's iconic superpowers, nor weapons that rival Captain America's shield or Thor's hammer in terms of recognizability. Basically they're just a bunch of noisy fools listening to good but old music. The characters themselves are the most important. Fortunately, developer Eidos Montréal has a lot of eye for that and tell their story as it's suposed too.

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is a completely new adaptation of the well-known heroes and that gives Eidos the chance to build something of his own. So forget what you know from the comic books and try not to think of Chris Pratt by the name ‘Star-Lord’. Eidos opts for the same approach as Insomniac used for the successful Marvel’s Spider-Man from 2018. The game is bursting with well-known characters, but all with a slightly different background than you would expect.

For example, main character Peter Quill takes his name ‘Star-Lord’ this time from a fictional metal band from the 80s. Eidos even recorded original music to bring this band to life. Unique backgrounds have also been devised for the other Guardians. For example, Gamora has a completely different, but still complicated relationship with her family than in other media.

That blank canvas is the catalyst of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. Eidos tells the background stories of your companions in an almost BioWare-like way. While the game doesn’t have side missions to win the loyalty of your crew members, it does encourage you to take a walk on your starship between chapters and chat with everyone. The more you’ve been through together, the more the characters trust each other and the more they dare to tell about themselves. Even Groot manages to grow into more than just a funny side note with his three-word vocabulary.

That Eidos manages to put so much humanity in the characters is not only clever because we are dealing here with a talking raccoon, a walking tree and two green aliens. Guardians of the Galaxy is also written very funny. Eidos stays away from cheap slapstick and lame adolescent jokes: the humor is sharp, balanced and rarely if ever gets through. The jokes fit the characters perfectly, so the humor complements the story, rather than unnerves it.

In fact, it’s the humor that makes the dynamics between the characters so brilliant. Drax and Rocket in particular are constantly stealing the show. The extremely serious Drax and foul-mouthed Rocket are the perfect opposites and give the cast a lot of color. That’s crucial to the tone of the game, because it puts more than just a cast of famous Marvel names with a weighty backstory. A group of space friends forms that you’ll want to fight for. Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy can really compete in that area with Mass Effect 2 and the legendary sci-fi series Firefly. Not a bad list to be in.

By the way, if you don’t want to go through fire for your companions, that’s possible to a certain extent. You not only experience Eidos’ variant of the Guardians, you also write it yourself. When the characters chat among themselves, you can choose whether and how Peter Quill joins the conversation. Bullying your buddies or applying a little self-mockery is all possible, just like in a real group of friends. There are also choices that influence the story. Although Eidos doesn’t go as far as BioWare with Mass Effect 2, the feeling that you also have something to crumble in the milk helps to make a connection with your new space friends.

Despite the choices and the interaction with your teammates, Guardians of the Galaxy is a linear action game. The hero team travels from one planet to another in a fixed order, which serves the story. That also means there’s no useless padding between locations, or endless backtracking.

Although Guardians of the Galaxy does not excel in extreme details or lifelike animations, the environments look very nice. One planet is even more colorful and alien than the next. Even more beautiful are the interiors of spaceships, which are full of nonsensical sci-fi lights that splash wonderfully off the screen thanks to the extreme lighting effects, especially if you’re playing on an HDR screen. That is even without raytracing, because that will only be added later on the (next-gen) consoles.

With the great dynamics between the characters as the main draw and beautiful environments that accompany the story, it can sometimes feel like the gameplay is lagging a bit. There is quite a bit of variety in the game. One minute you’ll be piloting your spaceship in action-packed on-rails scenes, other times you’ll have to platform that often require teaming up with other Guardians to progress, or scan the environment with Star-Lord’s signature visor looking for hints.

Furthermore, Guardians of the Galaxy is mainly a fairly straight forward action game, in which you constantly beat up clumps of bad guys or bombard them with your blasters. Your fellow Guardians join in happily and have a variety of special attacks that you control. For example, you can have Rocket fire a grenade, or have Groot secure enemies with his tree roots. The unique character traits of each character are therefore also reflected in this.

All those different characters mating makes Guardians of the Galaxy very chaotic. That fits very well with a game like this, but it also makes it difficult to use the various special powers of Star-Lord and the other heroes tactically. For example, certain enemies have a weakness for specific attacks, but in practice it is difficult to target attacks on the right enemy. Blindly hitting the buttons is often a lot more pragmatic. Fortunately, that’s what the difficulty level is for: Guardians of the Galaxy clearly puts casual fun above unforgivable challenge. The gameplay is also mainly in service of the story and that is actually fine.

If you do end up in a tight spot, then Peter Quill has a nice extra in store. He can give his teammates a pep talk and crank up the music on his Walkman for that extra bit of power. Imagine you’re fighting a crowd of aliens and suddenly an 80s banger like Hit me With Your Best Shot, White Wedding or Never Gonna Give You Up blasts through your speakers. Then you shoot everyone to the gallemies with just a little more fun.

The Walkman is a great declaration of love for James Gunn’s version of the Guardians of the Galaxy, but to be honest it doesn’t always work as well in a game as it does in a movie. Because you have to charge a ‘Huddle Up’ (the special power with which you activate the walkman) first, it often happens that the music only starts playing at the end of a mat game. It also stops as soon as the last enemy is defeated, with the result that a song is often cut off before the first guitar strings vibrate well and good. That’s a bit of an anticlimax.

At such moments, it becomes apparent that the script of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is written better than the code. The game does have some rough edges. For example, it happened a few times that the walkman did not play music. No, that turned out not to be the prelude to a minigame in which you have to rewind the tape with a pencil. Restarting the game turned out to be the solution. Furthermore, Star-Lord once got stuck in a wall, and when we needed Groot to form a bridge, the big friendly giant appeared to have disappeared without a trace.

They are the anecdotal examples that might happen to someone else, or not at all. These bugs don’t weigh very heavily either, since with a simple restart you’re back in the action. More regrettable are the moments when you miss bits of dialogue. Guardians of the Galaxy is masterfully written, but lacks the meticulous direction of games like God of War or The Last of Us: Part 2 to ensure players get everything perfectly. With just a little more polishing, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy really had a shot at the title of Game of the Year. Now it’s definitely the funniest game of the year.

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy will be available on October 26 for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X and S, and PC. The game is also playable via the cloud on the Nintendo Switch. For this review, the game was played on a PlayStation 5.



+ Nice soundtrack
+ Very funny and good written
+ Well-known characters presented surprisingly complete
+ Beautiful environments

– Dialogues and music are sometimes cut off
– Small bugs