Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy episode 5 review: Finally


Great, well-rounded, flawed characters (and excellent voice actors) can’t overcome Guardians of the Galaxy episode 5’s horrendous finish.

Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Platforms: PC (version reviewed), PS4, Xbox One, iOS and Android devices
Release Date: November 7, 2017

This Guardians of the Galaxy episode 5 review will make passing references to the game’s preceding story and the basic conflict of this season finale.

Jubilation. Disappointment. Worry. Pride. Acceptance.

Much like Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy episode 5 of the Telltale series telegraphed quite literally and with no subtlety at all, a rush of feelings swept over me once I completed this episode, this season and (hopefully) this series. I was happy that it was over, disappointed in what could have been, worried that Marvel might want to make another season down the road, proud I was able to stay awake and accepting of the possibility that we’ll never see a profoundly remarkable Telltale season ever again.

I had so much hope at the beginning of Guardians of the Galaxy. This group of characters, backed by decades’ worth of comic book content and solid, realized characterization in its two cinematic ventures, have the potential to tell an awesome tale of flawed characters exploring their roots while overcoming new challenges through immersive gameplay. By episode 5, “Don’t Stop Believin,'” I couldn’t wait to get off of this intergalactic ride.

With the Guardians of the Galaxy broken up into pieces after the previous episode, Hala is still out there threatening to take down Peter Quill and the precious galaxy he so treasures. Who exactly is with you, who you need to retrieve and whose lives are on the line are all contingent on the choices you make in previous episodes but, for the most part, this episode is painted with broad strokes.

Guardians of the Galaxy episode 5 feelings
Telltale Games, Marvel /

What kills this episode’s pacing is long, drawn-out sections of meaningless tedium. At one point, Star-Lord and Mantis enter Star-Lord’s mind in order to conjure up memories of certain characters in your journey. This is done in order to locate them and bring them back into your fold (depending on who you need to retrieve).

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Instead of going off on some sort of puzzle-based adventure or open-area exploration, you pick a feeling out of a collection, re-listen to some old voice clips and get whisked away to various locations across the galaxy. Not only does this take up a significant chunk of the episode, but it draws it out for so long that it kills the tension. Hala is but a plot contrivance that draws out QTE actions for conflict in order to tick a checkbox.

While there are plenty of great lines and excellent line reads from the characters of Guardians of the Galaxy episode 5, what tarnishes the actors’ performances is the narrative direction from Telltale Games. It may seem odd to be complaining about divergent paths, but here, choosing one of two main narrative-branching paths in episode 3 provides way better story moments and options in this concluding episode.

Guardians of the Galaxy episode 5 screenshot
Telltale Games, Marvel /

Yes, people are brought to justice and you still need to wrangle your crew after losing specific members. However, major choices regarding the Eternity Forge affect end-game branches and character moments that, post-facto, make it more narratively gripping and rewarding than if you went the other path.

On a narrative design and directorial pacing perspective, this episode completely fizzled out.

I would be willing to accept this if the main elements of the game’s five-episode story weren’t ultimately on the same path. Because they aren’t, Telltale’s narrative divergence, by default, tells the player that one choice is more correct or fulfilling than the other entirely due to the options available to the player at the end of that branching path.

I wish I could explain my thoughts clearer for those that haven’t played Guardians of the Galaxy, but the severity of my frustration over this split is overwhelming. By taking the path that gives the most power to the player, in the end, it retroactively defeats the moral/ethical quandaries presented in the middle of the season.

Instead of giving the player a grey perspective over a responsibility a person should or should not have, one choice makes it so you can enjoy its benefits and still see fit that others can’t use it for harm afterward. Guardians of the Galaxy episode 5, in one path, lets the player have its cake, eat it, too, and absorb zero percent of its calories. It completely erodes the philosophical elements of the story by replacing it with wish fulfillment, yet only half the players of the game will see it due to just how fundamental that one choice can change gameplay options presented to the player.

Guardians of the Galaxy episode 5 group shot
Telltale Games, Marvel /

The Guardians of the Galaxy are a great group of characters, and the series has presented me with an excellent core gameplay loop with exploration and puzzle-solving improvement via rocket boots, a wide array of character perspectives within the group and personality out the wazoo. On a narrative design and directorial pacing perspective, this episode completely fizzled out.

Next: Telltale’s Guardians of the Galaxy episode 4 review: Death on two legs

You can have your character-building passages and your frantic moments of action. When you break up one to drag out the other for close to an hour, I just end up thanking the maker once I see the credits roll.

5. A graphic adventure title cannot coast on its cast; the story must remain a gripping journey through its narrative design and storytelling. Guardians of the Galaxy episode 5 fails to deliver on both accounts, presenting a mishmash of conflicting ideals and tension-killing slowdown right on the verge of the story’s climax. It’s hard to take a wonderfully complex group of characters such as this and fail to deliver a mammoth exclamation point at the end of this adventure, yet here we are.. Telltale Games. . Guardians of the Galaxy episode 5

A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.