The Guardians Go Spelunking in A Divisive Fourth Episode
The only thing worse than “hitting rock bottom” is knowing you haven’t hit it yet; this idiom seems to have inspired the fourth episode of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series. Entitled “Who Needs You,” Telltale takes a break from the Eternity Forge plot to focus on the bonds you’ve built over the past three episodes. “Who Needs You” tests how well you’ve befriended the Guardians, and how much the team believes they really need each other. Starlord’s leadership has led his friends into some deep holes in the past; this time, it looks like “hitting rock bottom” will shatter the team forever.
“Who Needs You” has the standard Telltale mechanics we know and love, but with a tiny tweak in the walking segments. Starlord’s jet boots malfunction in episode three, and some desperate repairs from Rocket aren’t enough to get them working perfectly. If Starlord uses the jet boots for too long, they’ll overheat and turn off. On solid ground, that might not be a hazard—too bad Starlord has to use them over pits of acid! The new mechanic adds a new way fail in a game without many ways to lose, though the controls for this feature have some issues with moving forward.
The combat sequences have the same great music and humor in past episodes, along with the special commitment to featuring controls for every Guardian. In the first battle against a horde of hungry cave worms, the player gets a pan view of the heroes fighting them back to back in a circle. As the camera moves around the circle, the player needs to hit commands that show how each Guardian holds their own against overwhelming enemies. The team’s newest member has undoubtedly the best segment, but you’ll have to play the game yourself to see what it is.
As one should expect by now, GOTG’s playlist is simply phenomenal. That said, “Who Needs You” features a song that meshes so perfectly with the situation that it puts all the other sequences to shame. Watching a threadbare Milano trying to escape a monstrous worm is enjoyable enough; pairing that chase with Queen’s “Stone Cold Crazy” is just too perfect for words. The stakes, the energy, the fun, everything about that scene jumps up to a scale that would’ve been impossible to maintain otherwise. Whoever decided to incorporate that song deserves a damn pay raise!
Setting that chase scene aside—which feels remarkably hard to do—the rest of “Who Needs You” has a considerable lack of energy. All the momentum built up through the Forge story arc seems lost in the caves where the Guardians wake up. Aside from a few mentions of Hala and how the galaxy has never been in so much danger, “Who Needs You” makes almost no connections to the overall plot. It feels isolated from the rest of the story, and while that seems appropriate for the “all is lost!” moment the episode builds toward, it also throws the game out of its groove. When you can ask the question “why did the developers place this episode here?” and not find a convincing answer, that’s a bad sign.
Drax’s flashback has the same great level of emotion and character development as the previous examples; perhaps even more so for players who have children of their own. However, now that the source of Star-Lord’s “mind’s eye” glimpses has been revealed, the means to head into these flashback sequences seem clunky. “More Than A Feeling” did a great job in providing a new way to experience a character’s past, so it’s a bit disappointing to see Telltale go through situational loops just to make this (admittedly excellent!) flashback happen.
When it comes down to it, “Who Needs You” serves its technical purpose by bringing our heroes to their most dire moment. Filled with doubt about Starlord’s leadership, and perhaps even furious at his choices throughout the game, the Guardians of the Galaxy are falling apart at the seams. The stage is set for the final battle against the Kree; the only question is, will Starlord have to face them alone?
“Who Needs You,” episode four of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series, is available now for Steam, PS4, and Xbox One.