Many great games were released this year, and I’ve had a blast with most of them, but there have been a few standouts for multiple different reasons. Throughout the year, I’ve made good use of all my consoles, including my Nintendo Switch, and I’ve played more than my fair share of mobile titles too, yet, none surprised me quite as much as Guardians of the Galaxy.
More specifically, the Guardians of the Galaxy narrative stood out to me in the best possible way. Sure, other games such as Life is Strange saw release this year, but I went into that game knowing I would be blown away by the story. However, I wasn’t expecting to go through the motions with Guardians of the Galaxy. I laughed, I nearly cried, and I had a blast. But why exactly was I so surprised by the story?
Well, there are a few things that I wasn’t expecting. I’m a huge Marvel fan, especially of Star-Lord and co, so I was more than prepared to go into this and be disappointed, especially after The Avengers release last year. The characters needed to be perfect. At this point, we all know what to expect from Peter Quill, Gamora, Rocket, Drax, and Groot. They’re one big dysfunctional family, which Eidos-Montreal captured beautifully in this game.
Their personalities are all on point. From the second you first see all five of the titular characters, you know the acting is top-notch and that Eidos-Montreal took care in getting their characteristics right. Again, it’s the team dynamic that people love about the guardians. It’s their dysfunctionality, yet being the perfect squad at the same time.
This all brings me to the narrative itself, and boy, was it an epic ride from start to finish. From the second I took control of Peter after the prologue, I knew I was in for a treat, at least when it comes to team banter, comedy, and general action. However, it wasn’t until a few chapters later that I realised the game has a deeper meaning at times. There are some truly touching moments in Guardians of the Galaxy, some that make you stop and think.
Anybody that’s seen, or read, anything to do with Guardians of the Galaxy knows that Peter loses his mum when he’s a teenager. This features in the game, and it hit me in ways I wasn’t expecting. Having lost my own mum, I understand Peter’s desire, and it’s heartbreaking to see him forcibly back away from The Promise, making himself give up his mother all over again. It’s an unexpected scene that hits you in the feels, and I can only imagine having to lose someone so important to you twice.
Of course, the unfortunate act of losing a parent is in itself a huge part of what sets the main events of the game in motion. Among the fun, action, and explosions, is a delicate story about loss, and I wasn’t expecting this game to take such a turn. I still suffer greatly from the loss of my mum, and I have no problem admitting that’s why I am so enamoured by this story. It’s so hard to accept the loss of a loved one, which this title dives into, and it handles it well. The emotions these characters feel, I feel it too.
It’s scenes like this that truly impressed me during the time I spent with Guardians of the Galaxy, and of course, there are plenty more scenes like this. Besides the entire story with Nikki, Ko-Rel, and The Promise, there’s a powerful moment in the closing arc of the game, one that sees Gamora let her emotions show. You get to witness the damage Thanos has caused. She doesn’t close herself off here. Instead, she lets her family in.
She lets everything out, her pain, anger, and anguish at what she and Nebula endured at the hands of Thanos. This is why she fights so hard to help Peter save Nikki. She refuses to let foolish men with too much power corrupt another young girl. The acting in this scene is phenomenal, you feel it, and I could only sympathise with Gamora, thinking about how too many young children in real life are subjected to such behaviour. It’s something that needs to change. I was right there with Gamora at that moment. I understood her anguish, and if I wasn’t ready to hand out an ass-whooping before, I sure as hell was after that.
All throughout the game, as Peter, you get to respond to all sorts of events. You can choose to be the up himself jackass Star-Lord is known to be. Or, you can show his more sensitive side. I like how the game does this. It allows you some freedom. You can react how you genuinely would, or go with how you envision Star-Lord to be. No matter what, he cares, he wants to help Nikki. He’s there for the other guardians, even if he constantly bumps heads with Rocket.
Then there’s Drax, and the depths his friends go to when trying to help him. They refuse to give up on him, bringing The Destroyer back from the brink. Another man that has lost so much and would give anything to have his loved ones back. Yet, his friends’ love and support help him move forward, no matter how much Drax wanted to stay in the past.
Going in, I knew I would have a good time, that the comradery, banter, and general atmosphere that comes with the franchise ensure you have fun. Yet, Eidos-Montreal wasn’t afraid to explore deeper, heading into emotional territory, and I appreciate that.
Guardians of the Galaxy weaves comedy, action, touching, and gut-wrenching moments together seamlessly. Honestly, it’s no wonder it picked up Best Narrative at The Game Awards 2021. If you’re yet to go on this joyous adventure, I suggest keeping an eye out for it in the January sales, be you on PC, Xbox, PlayStation, or Nintendo Switch.