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Ep. 3 of Telltale’s GOTG (“More Than a Feeling”) Out Now

After some mixed criticism of the first two episodes, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series has shown signs of clearing its biggest hurdles. The release of the season’s third episode (“More Than a Feeling”) features some great improvement in the game’s action sequences, dialogue, and even music choice. While the third episode might not be as action-packed as the first, it fits some of the last pieces of the plot into place, and sets the stage for the season’s climactic finale.

Answering the call of the Eternity Forge, Starlord and the Guardians of the Galaxy travel to an abandoned Kree temple in the hopes of bringing their loved ones back to life. What they find in the temple raises more questions than it answers, but the Guardians leave with a new ally and a new destination. By the end of this episode, Starlord must make a choice that could tear apart not just the Guardians, but also the galaxy they’ve sworn to protect.

Perhaps it’s just a coincidence, but you can’t help but notice that “More Than a Feeling” released on Steam and consoles the same day Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 released in stores. The stories brush the same themes of family and emotional turmoil, not to mention revealing Starlord’s identity as a Celestial. Too bad there’s no Hasselhoff cameo in the game.

So how does “More Than a Feeling” make the game better? The most obvious improvement comes down to Telltale’s Achilles’ heel: action sequences. Fights and quick time events look and feel more fluid than ever, engaging the player in what’s slowly resembling an interactive movie. Lags between cuts have started to disappear, so the stitches between portions aren’t so obvious or distracting. On top of that, the actual fighting choreography has been taken up a notch, especially in the flashbacks to Gamora and Nebula’s fateful mission.

Strange as it sounds, “More Than a Feeling” also seems to have a better grasp on what these Marvel characters are really like. The MCU’s Guardians of the Galaxy have a peculiar sense of humor and comedic timing, one that Telltale tried to emulate in the first two episodes and (due to writing, technical, and even artistic choices) fell short. Rocket’s flashback with Lylla in Episode Two marked a step in the right direction, but “More Than a Feeling” shows that the developers have finally started to get a good handle on how these characters act and talk. Some of the lines are so strangely in-character that they hit you out of nowhere. It’s hard not to laugh when Drax asks about the Celestial One:

“What is this Celestial One? Why is there only one of him? And could he also be me?”

Telltale has even managed to step-up their storytelling consistency. In a decisive mission for Thanos, Gamora and Nebula must assassinate a Kree target and steal an important device for their father. You play out the scene first from Gamora’s perspective, but repeat the scene later from Nebula’s point of view. It’s great to see how your choices for Gamora’s dialogue follow through into Nebula’s flashback; if Gamora remembers saying “I promise not to tell Thanos,” then Nebula will recall the same thing later, with the same repercussions.

“More Than a Feeling” also includes what might arguably be a first for Telltale: a montage. The Guardians of the Galaxy films has some marvelous music from the late 70’s and early 80’s, so Telltale undoubtedly invested a lot of resources into putting some of Starlord’s tracks into the game. The first two episodes used several great songs to a rather lackluster effect; for instance, using King Harvest’s “Dancing in the Moonlight” for an anticlimactic cold open just feels like a waste. The developers made a great choice putting a space travel/Guardians bonding montage to Three Dog Night’s “Shambala.” Considering the Milano’s destination, the song’s a perfect fit.

The game still has some issues to work out, though any changes now might be too little too late. The texture and designs of each face throws almost every character into the bottom of Uncanny Valley. Unlike most of Telltale’s other titles, Guardians of the Galaxy uses just enough skin pigments and deformities to make faces look realistic, but are structured in a stylistic way that makes even the human characters look inhuman. This off-putting presentation makes it tough to empathize with most of the Guardians, especially Starlord. It can be tough playing a “Choose Your Own Adventure” game when you can’t bring yourself to care about the protagonist! Either Telltale should consider a few more touch-ups to pull this art style out of Uncanny Valley, or else throw on Starlord’s space mask a little more often.

Overall, gamers should view “More Than a Feeling” with a nod of approval. There are some understandable complaints about the pacing—after killing Thanos in the first episode and bringing Starlord back from the dead in the second, this episode might feel a bit slow action-wise—but the improvements in most of the game’s trouble spots make up for the mid-season lull. Hopefully you won’t feel like you’re spending this episode as the Guardians’ therapist, but even if you do, at least “More Than a Feeling” builds up the characters and overarching plot for the finale. Whether you think Episode Three is the best or worst installment so far, it’s hard to complain about that final image before the credits.

Episode Three of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series is available now for download on Steam, PS4, and Xbox One.

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