Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Review (PC)

Marvel’s Avengers has been avenged.

It’s safe to say that a lot of people were burned in the aftermath of Marvel’s Avengers release. Years of hype, a respected developer/publisher, and a huge budget all culminated into a catastrophic flop that never truly recovered. So when a Guardians of the Galaxy game was announced, skepticism was at an all-time high. A lot of people were under the assumption that Crystal Dynamics was also responsible for this game just a year after Avengers, but Eidos Montreal, responsible for the Deus Ex revival, took the reigns for this outing. As such, I held cautious optimism towards this new Guardians outing. So, how did it turn out?

Guardians of the Galaxy PC Review Visuals Key Art Team

Gameplay

A big point of contention for prospective players of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy was that you could only control Starlord throughout the game. A contrast from Marvel’s Avengers where you had the choice of any Avenger, this seemed a bit restrictive. Thanks to a nuanced story and robust mechanics, though, I felt the power of each Guardian within the game’s squad-control system during combat. With just a few button presses, I could have Drax careen through baddies, Gamora slice-and-dice all nearby foes, Rocket throw a gravity grenade, and Groot tie enemies down all within the span of a few seconds. Finding the right combination of abilities in unison is worthwhile and makes every character feel like a valuable member of the team. It is a bit weird that their actions are instantaneous, meaning they’ll teleport where you desire to make the game feel a bit janky, but it’s to your benefit and never truly broke my immersion.

Guardians of the Galaxy PC Review Visuals Enemy Combat
It’s the five of you vs. droves of devious baddies or colossal bosses. Good luck.

When you aren’t battling it out, there’s a lot of story to absorb as you traverse the massive levels. The scope of each level results in hour-plus expeditions, and there’s dialogue almost literally every step of the way. I noticed a content creator get a bit flustered that there was so much dialogue, but anyone who’s familiar with the source material knows that the Guardians of the Galaxy love to run their mouth, and dialogue will constantly interrupt if you walk to the next in-game cutscene too quickly, so you’ll have to stand still and let everyone finish their verbiage if you want the full experience.

Guardians of the Galaxy PC Review Visuals Starlord Room
You can press F to get out of Starlord’s bed, but why would you ever want to leave an 80’s kid’s paradise?

In addition, a choice-driven narrative is vital for how the game plays out. Choices really do matter, as certain dialogue options will influence details on how the story plays out, both to your benefit and detriment. It’s been a while since this was implemented into a AAA game to this level of importance, but it was executed quite well and made me question the weight of my actions for more than a few seconds at some points.

Visuals

On the more demanding side for a PC venture, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy needed to be a visual knockout to stay faithful to the comics and films. Thankfully, Eidos Montreal knocked it out of the park in this department. Vibrancy is a staple as every level is chock-full of every color on the spectrum. Plus, one of the villain’s appearance is so obtrusive to the eyes that it’s a technical feat. As the game is no slouch on visuals, one would question how it would perform. Thankfully, a strong level of optimization saw framerates never dip too far to impact the frenetic combat even with the graphics turned up.

Guardians of the Galaxy PC Review Visuals Team Groot Rocket
You got this. Probably.

Audio

Quite possibly the best thing about Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is its mind-blowing soundtrack of 70s and 80s greats. Just about every hit rock song from these decades graces Starlord’s cassette player and the Milano’s speakers. Additionally, these songs will take center stage after “Huddles”, an ultimate that turns the tide of tough battles. Getting to see all of these legendary tracks with their album art makes one wonder how much was spent on the licensing of this killer soundtrack alone, but it serves as a faithful Guardians callback.

Dialogue is a heavy part of this game, as the voice actors of Gamora, Rocket, and Drax reprise their roles from the Guardians of the Galaxy show. Starlord’s voice is handled by Jon McLaren, a relative unknown, that delivers an emphatic surfer vibe with gravitas. Guns, swords, and punches all carry their weight, while the Milano entering hyperspace sends players into galactic bliss. Keep your ears attentive for this spectacle of a game.

Guardians of the Galaxy PC Review Visuals Rick Astley Never Gonna Give You Up
Playing during this screenshot: “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley. In space, no one can hear you get Rickrolled.

Plot

I saw someone refer to Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy as “an interactive movie” and perhaps that isn’t far from the truth, if you like your movies lasting more than 15 hours. You’ll see flashbacks from your youth as Peter Quill, a metal-loving teen taken from Earth and sent into space. Fully-interactive environments and choices-matter is reminiscent of Telltale/Life is Strange, whereas the squad-centric combat is akin to Final Fantasy XV, so as to appeal to those who enjoy both. You have the option to contribute to the dialogue with two vastly-different choices mid-conversation, and the Guardians’ opinion of you may get influenced by what you say. Without spoilers, I’d recommend engaging every chance you get for the most fulfilling ending possible.

An AAA game that’s a blast at launch? It’s still possible!

Time and time again last decade, I’ve gotten excited for a game only to dive in and be greeted with a rough experience. Star Wars Battlefront II, Marvel’s Avengers, and even Eidos Montreal’s own Deux Ex: Mankind Divided had cataclysmic launches, but that’s not something you have to worry about with Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. A lot of doubt was cast over a single-player, narrative-driven, linear game still being worth the risk in a multiplayer, shared-world climate of gaming, but this game hearkens back to a time where you paid full price for a full experience. Nothing held back behind future DLC, no lack of polish due to a rushed schedule, no need for a persistent online connection. It’s a relief to have this much fun with no strings attached, and for that, the game gets my full endorsement.

So, why should you play it?

  • A fully-fleshed, well-polished, engaging single-player experience with no catches.
  • A soundtrack that will capture the heart of anyone keen on 70s/80s music.
  • To support the notion that this type of game is still desired by gamers at this point in time.

But why shouldn’t you play it?

  • You’re not a fan of an overwhelming abundance of dialogue.
  • You’re streaming and watchers will unfortunately miss out on the soundtrack, the best part of the game.

A press copy of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy on PC was provided courtesy of the publisher.

God of Riffs Early Access Impressions (PC/VR)

Beat Saber, but make it metal.

Chances are if you’ve played VR, or even heard of it, you’ve probably encountered a game by the name of Beat Saber. This music/rhythm game took the virtual world by storm with its initial release back in 2018 and still has a massive community thanks to its simplistic but engaging gameplay and regular updates. However, one aspect of Beat Saber just didn’t grab me, and that was the genres of music available. There’s plenty of adrenaline-pumping EDM, synth, upbeat pop music, and even some punk rock, but one crucial genre (and my personal favourite) was almost entirely missing from the tracklist: METAL.

Well thanks to a new VR game by the name of God of Riffs, that guitar-shaped void is about to be filled! Developed right here in Australia by Boss Music Games, this rhythmic heavy metal VR experience has the player slaying hordes of demons to thrashing beats and face-melting guitar in several original songs produced specifically for the game. It’s what’s been described by the devs as a “heavy metal album cover brought to life” and it’s definitely the kind of VR game I can imagine Jack Black playing.

At the moment the game is in its early stages, but the team were kind enough to hook me up with an early access copy – so let’s dive through the gates of hell, pick up our mighty axes, and become the God of Riffs!

Gameplay

If you’ve played Beat Saber, you’ll be able to easily dive straight into God of Riffs. With a trusty axe in each hand, these act as your only defense against the onslaught of hellspawn that charge headfirst towards you. By choosing one of the four available tracks, you’ll have to destroy enemies to the beat of the songs, which is a simple gameplay mechanic to pick up and play, but difficult to perfect!

God of Riffs PC Vr combat gameplay gif

Swinging around the controllers feels really natural, and becomes seriously satisfying when you’re able to do so perfectly in time with the music. Bonus points are awarded for hitting chains of enemies in a row, but miss too many and they’ll deplete your health bar leading to the God’s demise. Each song lasts approximately 3 – 4 minutes, which feels like the perfect amount of time to get a hang of the rhythm without becoming too exhausting.

Several gameplay options are also available – modifiers to change the speed/intensity of your axe swings, changes to enemies, and an easy/medium difficulty to ensure that players of all proficiency are catered for (with hard being added shortly). Each song also features a global leaderboard to flaunt your hi-score, and though I didn’t get close, it was enjoyable to challenge myself and constantly work towards a better score.

Visuals

As you’ll notice, the visuals are pretty basic, with cartoon stylised enemies and environments. Though it’s not particularly visually-impressive, it works well in VR and is still successful in immersing you within the game’s world. Gameplay is fluid and looks crisp despite the basic details, though at this stage there aren’t many options to bump up the graphics – something that’s hopefully added in future!

God of Riffs PC Vr Review Environment visuals
This area just LOOKS metal.

One nice touch is the option to change the level environment for each song – several locales can be chosen and each have a distinct aesthetic. I’d recommend trying all of them out and seeing which level suits each song best. Tracks about fire and demons seem fitting in the lava level, whereas pirate-themed song absolutely has to be played on the edge of the sea.

Music

Now the most important part of any rhythm game – what’s the music like? Well I can happily say that even in early access, the music for God of Riffs impresses. At this stage there are four tracks available, each with distinct melodic style, and equally impressive as music that has been specifically composed for this experience. The tempos vary considerably to provide several different challenges; some are fast-paced thrash metal, whereas others are a bit slower almost to the point of hard rock. The title track is easily the most impressive, and even by itself is a catchy song that I’d happily listen to outside of the game! Here are a couple tracks that you’ll get to smash heads to:

So, what’s next?

Considering the game only recently launched as early access, expect regular updates and new content in the coming months. You can pick it up on Steam for $7.49AUD and at this price it’s well worth it for VR metalheads and anyone who enjoys Beat Saber/rhythm games in general. I’ll definitely be keeping eye out for future updates and keen to hear all the new music that will be added up to the game’s official release!

You can pick up God of Riffs here: God Riffs on Steam

An early access code was provided for the purpose of this article.
All gameplay was played and captured on a Valve Index headset.

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