Publisher: Telltale Games
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, iOS (version reviewed), Android
Release Date: April 18, 2017
Right from the main menu screen, which features a Deadpool-esque slow motion close-up tracking shot set to ELO’s “Livin’ Thing”, it’s pretty clear that Telltale Games have absolutely nailed the distinctive Guardians of the Galaxy feel that James Gunn executed so well in the 2015 Marvel Studios movie.
The story itself shows the same amount of obvious affection for the subject matter, and the interactions between the characters should feel faithful to both movie and comicbook fans, with a smattering of recognisable supporting characters – including the Mad Titan himself, Thanos – thrown in for good measure.
The quicktime action scenes are enjoyable enough, particularly the showdown with Thanos himself, and while the reaction-testing ‘swipe left’ or ‘swipe right’ prompts do feel particularly forgiving (unless I’m just awesome), it’s still a fun experience. Unfortunately, the lack of any real significant decision making really detracts from the overall package, making this feel like little more than a vaguely interactive animated movie.
In Telltale’s award-guzzling Walking Dead titles, the thrill of the split-second decisions you had to make was rooted in the complex moral dilemmas and the feeling that your choices had life-and-death consequences. Here, it essentially boils down to “which snappy quip should I use?”, which is incredibly disappointing. Now I’m obviously not expecting Telltale to start killing off Guardians willy-nilly, but something with a bit more bite would have definitely gone a long way. Sure, there are a couple of potentially significant decisions, but none of them really feel particularly urgent, and they certainly don’t offer up any immediately-felt impact.
One thing that this latest Telltale offering does seem to have going for it however is the overall performance. Playing the first chapter on an iPad Air 2, it did seem that a lot of the technical issues that have plagued Telltale’s previous releases – juddering framerate, freezing, crashing, etc. – have been resolved, and with the exception of a slight delay during one particularly space action set-piece, the game ran smoothly from beginning to end.
Ultimately then, while it’s definitely a fun, engaging Guardians of the Galaxy story, as an actual video game, “Tangled up in Blue” is an authentic but unsatisfying experience. If you’re a bigtime Guardians fan, or simply fancy whetting your whistle ahead of the upcoming Vol. 2 movie release, then by all means dive in and enjoy a fun 90 minutes or so with your favourite characters. But if you’re looking for a satisfying Telltale Games experience in the Walking Dead vein, you’re definitely going to have to look elsewhere.