Guardians of the Galaxy: A Telltale Series Episode 5: Don’t Stop Believin’ (PS4) Review

Guardians of the Galaxy: A Telltale Series Episode 5: Don’t Stop Believin’ (PS4) Review

In its season finale, Telltale’s Guardians of the Galaxy gave me a glimpse into what the series has been missing its entire run. Since the first episode I’ve been saying that the Guardians of the Galaxy’s constant, petty conflict made it feel like an exhaustive waste of time. This conflict is key to their dynamic, but it’s particularly debilitating when it’s dragged out for five episodes, equating to roughly ten hours of time with people who can’t seem to stand one another. Mantis, whose presence has called attention to this dysfunction, finally outright says that she believes the Guardians “hate each other,” and can’t imagine there was a time when they didn’t. It’s here that Groot, who is the last character to get a spotlight like previous episodes have given other characters, shows Mantis his memory of the day the Guardians met. There was no angst and bitterness between them, and it put all of the pettiness that had transpired in episodes one through four into perspective for her, and everyone else.

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Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: A Telltale Series – images via Telltale Games

The Guardians of the Galaxy are group often defined by their inner conflict, but regardless all of the spite and the hatred, they’re supposed to be a family. Telltale hasn’t been able to capture this side of Star-Lord and company the entire season, and while episode five, Don’t Stop Believin’ doesn’t fix four episodes of misery, it does portray the titular band of misfits at their best, which is all I wanted this entire time.

The previous episode, Who Needs You, left the Guardians in shambles, seemingly giving up on each other and their plan to stop Hala the Accuser from destroying the galaxy. This is until Star-Lord is approached by her son, who is attempting to overthrow his mother after deeming her way of ruling unfit for the Kree. This new information and ally gives the Guardians hope of defeating Hala’s supposedly invincible Kree army, but the group must first make amends with one another. The splintered group is divided across the galaxy, and the search and rescue that follows gives some closure to the well-trodden arcs of the series. Gamora has to forgive herself for the pain she caused as a daughter to Thanos, Drax, whose sacrifice in the previous episode and the conflict that follows gets mostly trampled on by his being alive, has to find a reason to want to live after the loss of his family, and the group collectively has to make a decision regarding the Eternity Forge and its ability to bring back any of their loved ones from the dead. It’s Guardians of the Galaxy at its most decidedly heavy, and despite the manufactured and insufferable drama of the previous episodes, it was nice to see these iterations of these characters reach a sense of closure and unity.

Getting to these resolutions is a bit iffy. Telltale’s animation work has always been a little off in this series, but here things come off especially mechanical and stiff, especially in simple conversations where lip syncing doesn’t line up with dialogue and idle animations are minimal, making characters look like lifeless dolls. This is especially apparent because, as a whole, Don’t Stop Believin’ isn’t heavy on the action. Most of the episode is about the internal conflict of the Guardians, so there’s a lot of talking, with only a few fights and QTEs in between. The action sequences still suffer from the game’s lack of visual identity, but the choreography is some of the most elaborate since the first episode’s battle with Thanos, with the final battle against Hala being one of the most entertaining set pieces of the series.

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Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: A Telltale Series – images via Telltale Games

Overall I don’t think Telltale’s take on Guardians of the Galaxy does the characters and their stories justice for most of its runtime. While Don’t Stop Believin’ is probably the series’ best episode, it doesn’t feel like enough to justify the four episodes of childish conflict and inconsistent writing that come before. The episode ends with a cliffhanger, one that doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence that the series won’t go into some well-worn territory Marvel is tackling elsewhere, but at the very least it appears Telltale will get a second chance at getting it right. Maybe now especially that the Guardians’ inner turmoil has been put to rest. Well, mostly.

A retail version of the game reviewed was provided by the publisher. You can find additional information about CGMagazine’s ethics and review policies and procedures here.


Liked this article and want to read more like it? Check out more of Kenneth Shepard’s reviews, such as Life is Strange: Before the Storm – Episode 2, and find out why Kenneth thinks Danganronpa V3’s ending makes a polarizing case for letting the series go!

Want to see more videos? Subscribe to our YouTube channel and check out the First 15: Super Mario Odyssey,  The Evil Within 2, and Cuphead!

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Guardians of the Galaxy: A Telltale Series Episode 4: Who Needs You (PS4) Review

Guardians of the Galaxy: A Telltale Series Episode 4: Who Needs You (PS4)  Review

Guardians of the Galaxy: A Telltale Series Episode 4: Who Needs You, goes out of its way to derail the momentum of episode three’s cliff-hanger ending, amounting to what is essentially an elongated waste of time. The best moments are all back loaded in the episode’s final ten minutes, while the two hours that come before it feel like filler, distracting from the real issues at hand.

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Guardians of the Galaxy: A Telltale Series Episode 4: Who Needs You (PS4) – gameplay image via Telltale Games

Following the ending of More Than A Feeling, the Guardians find themselves trapped in a cavern infested by man-eating space worms, toxic plants, and each other’s angsty emotions. In this cave Star-Lord and company wander, reflecting on the situation they’ve all gotten into, but are too preoccupied by this detour to do anything meaningful about it. Telltale’s Guardians of the Galaxy has been a methodical and slow-moving series throughout previous episodes, but Who Needs You feels intentionally designed to prolong the story an extra episode before the eventual finale.

Similar to previous episodes, one particular character gets the spotlight in Who Needs You, and this time it’s the deadpan muscle of the group: Drax the Destroyer. Mantis, who has been sort of a mediator for the group since her debut, uses her abilities to show Peter Drax’s past, and we get a nice scene between him and his deceased daughter. In the midst of all the angry back and forth everyone else in the group seems to be going through, Drax was the only character I found tolerable throughout the entire episode. Along with his flashback scene, Drax is the focus of a pivotal decision late in the episode that could shake the foundation of the Guardians depending on how you react, but this focus on him doesn’t feel like the crux of the episode like it did for Rocket and Gamora. Drax’s spotlight is more or less stumbled upon rather than being a guiding force for Who Needs You, which feels in line with the weird obligatory nature of the episode. This episode has to exist because the series has five episodes and Drax has to get these dedicated segments because everyone else has already had theirs.

This slow pace of the episode seeps into the action sequences as well. I’ve noted in previous reviews for the series that Guardians of the Galaxy has a lack of visual identity and flair that has hindered some otherwise entertaining fights, but Who Needs You feel even less inspired. The most notable one I can recall featured the entire group back to back as they’re surrounded by space worms as the camera simply circled around them while I did the quick time events that followed. The action was almost entirely off screen.

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Guardians of the Galaxy: A Telltale Series Episode 4: Who Needs You (PS4) – gameplay image via Telltale Games

After fighting space worms and exploring the cavern, almost all that’s left in Who Needs You is the Guardians arguing about what happened in the previous episodes and almost nothing that moves any relationships forward until the end of the episode. Gamora and Nebula’s relationship reaches a sense of closure, but by the time the episode’s over it just seems like things happened to artificially push the player into the less than favourable situation on which Who Needs You leaves off.

That’s generally the running theme of Who Needs You that frustrates me so much: every decision, piece of dialogue, and narrative call feels artificially put in place. Who Needs You feels like an episode that is written the way it is because an episode has to exist between episode three and the finale. The penultimate episode of Guardians of the Galaxy feels like a deliberate way to waste time before the actual finale with occasionally meaningful moments sprinkled on.

Guardians of the Galaxy: A Telltale Series Episode 4: Who Needs You was reviewed using “retail” PlayStation 4 download codes provided by Telltale Games. You can find additional information about CGMagazine’s ethics and review policies and procedures here.


Liked this article and want to read more like it? Check out more reviews by Kenneth Shepard, such as The Guardians of the Galaxy: Episode 3 and Life is Strange: Before the Storm – Episode 1!

Want to see more videos? Subscribe to our YouTube channel and check out the First 15: The Evil Within 2, Forza Motorsport 7, and Cuphead!

Don’t forget to tune in every Friday the Pixels & Ink Podcast to hear the latest news, previews, and in-depth game discussions!

Never miss when new CGM articles go out by following us on Twitter and Facebook!

CGMagazine is Canada’s premiere comics and gaming magazine. Subscribe today to get the best of CGM delivered right to your door! Never miss when a new issue goes live by subscribing to our newsletter! Signing up gives you exclusive entry into our contest pool. Sign up once, you’ll have a chance to win! Sign up today!

Guardians of the Galaxy: A Telltale Series Episode 3: “More Than a Feeling” (PS4)

Guardians of the Galaxy: A Telltale Series Episode 3: “More Than a Feeling” (PS4)

Having played and reviewed Telltale games for so many years now, I’ve come to expect a certain baseline of clarity from the studio’s writing and decisions, and after three episodes in a row Guardians of the Galaxy has made me feel like I can’t even count on that.

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Guardians of the Galaxy: A Telltale Series Episode 3: More Than a Feeling (gameplay images via Telltale Games)

At the beginning of several of Telltale’s series, the studio makes it clear that in the midst of its dialogue options “silence is a valid option”. Yet, in Guardians’ third episode, More Than a Feeling, I found that if I was opting for silence, the game would put words in my mouth—or a fist into my enemy’s face. The first scene from More Than a Feeling was a flashback to Peter Quill’s childhood, one where a bully mentioned in a previous episode popped back into his life to try and intimidate him and insult his mother for her illness. Earlier, during a conversation with Peter’s mother I promised that if I ended up an adversarial situation again, I wouldn’t get into a physical altercation. So I did what Telltale told me I could do and remained silent. I knew if I didn’t let him antagonize me an adult would come back into the room and I could keep my promise to Peter’s mom. However, by choosing silence when the decision to hit the bully was on my screen, the game took over and Peter threw the first punch. I was stunned, and immediately quit the episode to start over.

As I mentioned in my reviews for previous episodes Under Pressure and Tangled Up in Blue, Guardians of the Galaxy has repeatedly shown a disconnect between its dialogue choices and the consequences that follow. These seemingly small instances are irksome on their own, but when it seems to be a pattern for each episode it goes from grievances to a running theme. Beyond Peter’s flashback, another, less significant fallout happened with Drax, who I apparently made angry by allowing Mantis, the empath capable of reading and altering people’s emotions, to use her abilities on him without any sort of hint that this was a problem. I’m finding it’s getting more and more difficult to manage all the relationships in Guardians of the Galaxy when there seems to be a constant lack of transparency about how these people feel about my decisions until after the fact, and the established dynamics seem fluid in order to manufacture isolated episodic drama.

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Guardians of the Galaxy: A Telltale Series Episode 3: More Than a Feeling (gameplay images via Telltale Games)

For what it’s worth, More Than a Feeling is probably the best written individual episode of the series so far. Like Rocket in Under Pressure Gamora and Nebula see the spotlight put on them in this episode. The circumstances around the their falling out, primarily orchestrated by their father Thanos, made for some of the more coherent storytelling the series has seen so far, and can be resolved in different ways depending on choices. I opted to urge the two to reconcile, and it felt like some of the tiresome in-fighting between the group reached an end befitting of the strong characters these Telltale versions are based on.

Mantis’ presence seems to be helping to do away with the trite fighting between the group, as her sensitivity to emotions means she urges the Guardians to actively search for solutions instead of brooding and fighting. Her arrival does bring the primary conflict—using the Eternity Forge to revive their loved ones—to a head at the end of an otherwise slow-moving episode, but her role among the group does seem to be a positive one, even if her being a mediator seems to be coming far too late to salvage some dynamics.

On the action front, Guardians of the Galaxy still feels hindered by stiff animations and the game’s generic art style—as I’ve mentioned in previous reviews. It was especially noticeable during Gamora and Nebula’s flashback scenes, where the action felt comical in some places and both under and over expressed. Later scenes against main antagonist Halla and her Kree soldiers felt messy and hard to keep track of, as group-wide fight sequences had me controlling several members of the Guardians at once. Even in the action it still feels like Telltale is struggling to handle this group of characters in a way that feels cohesive and well-defined.

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Guardians of the Galaxy: A Telltale Series Episode 3: More Than a Feeling (gameplay images via Telltale Games)

With each passing episode, I’m getting more and more conflicted about how I feel about Telltale’s take on Guardians of the Galaxy. In terms of humour and character dynamics More Than a Feeling” is the best episode thus far, but it’s still falling into the same traps that the previous two episodes did. The visual style remains indistinct, the action is handicapped by off animations, and there’s still an inconsistency to the writing and choices that often makes the game’s dialogue frustrating to play through from a strictly mechanical sense. Telltale games are supposed to adapt to the way you play and the story is supposed to be shaped by what you do in it, but we’re three episodes in and I keep feeling like I’m fighting the story the game wants to tell instead of it letting me nudge it any given direction.

Pixels & Ink #247 – Galaxy of Fun

Pixels & Ink #247 - Galaxy of Fun

On this episode of the Pixels and Ink Podcast, Cody Brendan and Phil talk about their favourite Star Wars games. They also discuss how great Lucas Arts was while Cody mixes up his Super Star Wars games. Phil reviews Guardians of the Galaxy, and talks about the late great Jonathan Demme.

Read morePixels & Ink #247 – Galaxy of Fun

Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 1 (Graphic Novel) Review

Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 1 (Graphic Novel) Review

Until this review I never read a Guardians of the Galaxy comic. If it weren’t for the awesome movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I may have never cared for them and missed out on some incredible adventures. Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 1: Emperor Quill is a great introduction for any reader to jump into because it feels and reads like it’s in the same universe as the film, albeit with some new additions to the cast that I greatly enjoyed.

The latest threat to the entire galaxy is Hala, one of the last members of the Kree race after Peter Quill’s (Star-Lord’s) father destroyed their home planet. Hala is out for vengeance on Quill’s family and wants to destroy everything he holds dear, including the planet Spartax, where he now resides as king, as well as his home on Earth. With strength on par to Ronan the Accuser, Hala proves to be quite the challenge for our band of heroes.

Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 1 (Trade) Review 2The Guardians themselves are going through a number of changes, with Quill sitting on a throne instead of commanding a ship, the position of Star-Lord has been acquired by his fiancée, Kitty Pryde while Rocket Raccoon proudly fills the leadership role of the team. The new member I’m most excited for is Ben Grimm, The Thing, who finally gets to be the space-loving nut he was always meant to be. After acquiring a piece of Chitauri tech they can’t analyze, the Guardians decide to visit their old Star-Lord to find out if they’ve struck gold or risk being destroyed by a bomb.

The center conflict behind this volume, besides Hala, is Peter’s feigning interest in being Spartax’s king. While he’s happy that he gets to be Spartax’s posterboy and protector, he hates the unexciting life of board meetings and politics. Peter is the type of character to find life exciting when it’s in danger and this is the crux of his inner turmoil. When Hala begins her acts of vengeance, Peter’s charisma and passion finally reappear as he fights alongside the Guardians, but he also begins to show the qualities of a powerful king as he prioritizes the safety of his people during the battle.

Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 1 (Trade) Review 1After Hala is defeated, the Guardians only take a moments rest before encountering the Destroyer of Destroyers, Yotat. It’s at this exact point that the book’s last quarter begins to feel like filler. Yotat is a simple bit-part villain whose only purpose in the book is to give some spotlight action sequences to the secondary Guardians in the story, Drax and Venom. The fight with Hala concludes perfectly, but in an excuse to add more pages, the story continues on to introduce a weak conflict and create a poor conclusion. Instead of introducing Yotat just as the tension and drama reached its climax, I would’ve greatly preferred if he was brought in at the beginning as a fun misadventure or plot device to get to Spartax, instead of the chitauri tech that never actually gets analyzed.

Volume 1 of Guardians of the Galaxy is a thrilling read. Despite suffering from some poor plot structure and a weak last quarter, Brian Michael Bendis writes the Guardians in a way that feels just like the MCU movie. The humour is on point and I constantly laughed throughout, even during action sequences. For readers looking to get a jump on point in the comics, Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 1: Emperor Quill is definitely a book you should consider.

Ranking The Marvel Cinematic Universe Part 2

Ranking The Marvel Cinematic Universe Part 2

Hello True Believers. This isn’t Stan Lee, but this is someone who can make a Stan Lee Soapbox reference. That and a parents-embarrassing career in film criticism qualifies me to do things like rank all of the movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Read moreRanking The Marvel Cinematic Universe Part 2

The Top Ten Genre Movies Of 2014 – Part 2

The Lego Movie (Movie) Review

Part 2 of The Top Ten Genre Movies Of 2014, be sure to check out part 1 for #10-6.

5) Snowpiercer

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Joon-ho Bong (The Host, the good one) has been one of the most fascinating genre filmmakers working out of Korea for over a decade. Working from a French comic book as source material, Snowpiercer was supposed to be his breakout film in North America. He got Chris Captain America Evans to headline a cast featuring the likes of Ed Harris, John Hurt, and Tilda Swinton for a trippy sci-fi action blockbuster with a brain. The results were as thrilling, funny, clever, and wildly entertaining as anything that he ever produced. It could have been a big hit. Then the Weinstein Company got hold of it, re-edited against Bong’s wishes for over a year and finally slipped it into a handful of theaters unceremoniously. It was unfair treatment for a frankly brilliant genre movie with scale, stars, smarts, and class. Thankfully, the movie will live forever in home video formats now and should eventually become the classic that it always should have been.

4) Oculus

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The bad wap on most mainstream horror flicks is that they are simplistic and uninspired. Sure, they are slick and pack jump scares and or gore, but rarely do they tickle the brain or dare to do anything different. Not Oculus. Mike Flanagan’s sophomore effort mixes up flashbacks and hallucinations in a clever, inspired, and above all deeply creepy little haunted mirror tale. Mercifully devoid of found footage trappings and other cheap gimmicks, it’s a skillfully crafted and undeniably effective little horror flick that already feels destined to be a cult classic. Other horror movies may have been flashier or more successful in 2014, but nothing else was as exquisitely constructed or capable of worming its way into memory. This is the type of horror movie that audiences used to be able to take for granted. Hopefully, Flanagan has quite a few more of them planned for a long career.

3) Captain America: The Winter Soldier

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Captain America was always my least favorite Marvel hero and yet somehow Kevin Feige and co. have given me two Cap films that rank amongst my favorite superhero flicks of all time. Borrowing liberally from the style and structure (if not the specific story beats) of Ed Brubaker’s influential Winter Soldier plotline, the movie cleverly contrasts Captain America’s old timey US values against the corruption of contemporary government. It’s a 70s paranoid thriller a la The Parallax View (Robert Redford even appears) with a superhero at the center. That’s a damn witty way to play with Cap in modern times and for good measure the co-directing Russo Brothers also served up the most visceral and physical action scenes of the entire Marvel cannon. It’s one hell of a blockbuster centered around a character who I never imagined I’d like. God damn it Marvel. You did it again.

2) The Lego Movie

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If this list was for “The Most Charming Movies Of 2014” then The Lego Movie would be number one with a bullet. In an age when branded product-shifting blockbusters like Transformers or Battleship are the norm, The Lego Movie should have been a project to dread, another one of those empty wastes of Hollywood resources designed purely to sell products. Thankfully, the movie fell into the hands of the distinctly irreverent filmmaking team of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (21 Jump Street, Clone High). In Lord and Miller’s hands, The Lego Movie transformed into a hysterically funny pop culture explosion that lovingly takes the piss out of the Lego universe as well as an unexpectedly moving exploration of the power of imagination that those little plastic blocks have provided for generations of children. The animation is beautifully plastic, the voice sheer joy on the big screen last year than The Lego Movie. It was an unexpected treat and one that likely won’t be topped for quite some time.

1) The Guardians Of The Galaxy

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Finally, there was only one possible movie that could top this list. It’s not often that the highest grossing movie of any given year is also arguably the best. But it’s also not often that a movie a singularly entertaining as Guardians Of The Galaxy comes along. It was a big risk for Marvel, not only reviving a barely popular space opera comic series from the 70s, but handing directing duties over to James Gunn (whose hard R horror and Troma roots are about as far from Disney blockbuster standards as humanly possibly). Thankfully, this is one of those cases where all of the risks paid off. Gunn delivered the closest thing to Star Wars that audiences have seen in a long time. His candy colored aesthetic, oddball casting (Chris Pratt as action hero, Michael Rooker as Disney villain), sardonic wit, and narrative invention delivered a blockbuster so purely entertaining that it should be held up as an ideal example of the form (and likely will be knocked off for quite a while for that very reason). It’s the closest thing that Marvel’s Phase 2 has given us to the unexpected excitement of the first Iron Man flick. A blockbuster that raised the bar for Marvel movies with an obscure property that seemed destined to fail. Pretty good plan, guys. Can’t wait to see what you’ve got coming next.

Honourable Mentions

Afflicted, Birdman, Citizenfour, Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, The Double, The Edge Of Tomorrow (or Live, Die, Repeat), A Field In England, Foxcatcher, Godzilla, The Guest, The Hobbit: Battle Of The Five Armies, Interstellar, Jodorowsky’s Dune, John Wick, Lucy, Only Lovers Left Alive, The Raid 2, The Sacrament, Tusk, 22 Jump Street, Under The Skin, Willow Creek, Wolf Creek 2

A Particularly Honourable Mention: The Babadook

This masterful directorial debut from Jennifer Kent uses a haunted pop up book to explore deep rooted parental fears and fairy tale monster thrills. The Babadook is a brilliant bit of work, but I left it off the list because it hasn’t yet been released in Canada even though it’s been a massive critical success in the US. Hopefully, that’ll be sorted out in the New Year. This movie will be released in Canada in some form eventually and when it does, do whatever you can to see it.

The Worst Genre Movie Of The Year: Transcendence

Utter trash with no redeeming value. Not even goofy enough to earn camp status down the line. Just drearily, boringly bad and unfit for human consumption.