Let me start with this: I’m not huge into video games. I want to be, and trust me, I’ve tried — I’ve just never been a die-hard gamer. I’ve owned multiple consoles, but I usually have only played one or two games on them before losing interest.

In the modern era, I bought a PlayStation 3 the second I played Rock Band at someone’s New Year’s Eve Party. That game lead to a deep love for the Batman “Arkham” titles, forcing me to buy a PlayStation 4 to finish that series with Arkham Knight, and then the obvious follow-up — Batman: The Telltale Series. It was so different from the typical video game, and I was hooked.

That all has ended up being a gateway for me to the digital gaming world of Marvel, and the new Guardians of the Galaxy (GOTG): The Telltale Series expands upon the success of the earlier Telltale Games (TTG) titles by taking what worked and blowing it up into something appropriate for the dysfunctional Guardian family.

For the unacquainted, Telltale Games has turned gaming into more of a multi-media immersive experience. Anyone that remembers the attempts made to merge CD-ROM tech with video games (video scenes dovetailed between game-like choices) will recall that the future of video games has always been predicted as an all-in type of entertainment. Your decisions would matter, you’d be part of the story, and what you experienced earlier in the game would come back to help/haunt you later. The CD-ROM thing didn’t last because they took too long to load, through no fault of the developers; the tech just didn’t exist to support the vision. But with lightning fast load times and elaborate graphics, the time for the immersive video game experience is alive and well.

A TTG title is more like a movie with viewer input being vital to the progress of the story. There are commands that the player must enact in order to remain “alive”, and a choice of responses to questions or scenarios that build up your character’s psyche, friendships and loyalties.

Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series
Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series

With previous TGG offerings, these opportunities seemed lacking to me. Sometimes forced. The Batman title used them to good effect, but I was never convinced that I was really part of the story…just someone picking random responses that were necessary to move the story forward. The “loner” nature of Bruce Wayne’s war against crime added to that. Not so with GOTG.

You see, inherent to the story of Peter Quill is his relationship with Gamora, Drax, Rocket and Drax. Yes, the TTG game has plenty of beautifully designed sets, props and battles. Yes, you have to dodge left in time to avoid being killed. Yes, you have to decide what Peter will say to the people he meets—all similar to Batman, and I’d imagine, The Walking Dead series. But the interactions that Peter has with his team mates are complex and this makes them compelling. For example, Peter is trying to woo Gamora and encourage Rocket but Peter/You find that it isn’t possible to do this at the same time. Pleasing Rocket might alienate Gamora. Siding with Gamora will take the story line down a different path than if Peter/You side with Rocket. This complexity makes the story and game play feel more advanced than a digital Choose Your Own Adventure story. It makes it feel like your choices truly matter.

Another aspect of the game that is a marked improvement from Batman is that the reload time after failing a task seems faster. In the first episode of GOTG, I didn’t accomplish a move quickly, so I died, and instead of having to wait for a long reload, I was taken back to a very near respawn point. I love that!

Visually, the game sets itself apart from early TTG properties by going with a clean, realistic look. Gone are the deeply contrasting shades and shadows, replaced with sharp graphics and smooth movements. The pop-culture Easter Eggs we’ve all come to appreciate from the GOTG films are there, and make closer examination of the backgrounds rewarding. Take special note of the copyright-free parodies of memorable 1980’s film posters—so very laugh-out-loud funny. Additionally, the design of the characters follows the path of the comic book rather than the films. Don’t expect to see a Zoe Zaldana or a Chris Pratt resemblance in Gamora or Quill. Their looks are very faithful to the 2000’s reboot of the comic. The similarities show up in the choice of voice actors who were seemigly cast to sound similar to Zaldana and Pratt, mimicking also their demeanor and interactions.

TGG intentionally kept the details of the game’s plot secret, so I will honor that by not spoiling anything here. I feel like I can say that the story seems to pick up somewhere near the type of Guardian story we are used to in the films, but then very quickly sets off into its own direction. Episode 1 drops a huge bomb on players by way of story and character, and the Guardians are forced to make potentially team-changing decisions based on these events. Future episodes will expand on these stories and events, and I can’t wait to see where the franchise goes.

For a self-proclaimed non-gamer, I am very impressed with the leaps that TTG have made in the world of game-based storytelling. Without a doubt, I’ll be following this title through all subsequent seasons, and really, I’m excited to see what Marvel properties that Telltale Games might pick up next!

Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series is available on select platforms: PS4, XboxOne, Steam, Gog.com, Apple App Store, Google Play and for Microsoft PC. Check it out and get hooked!