Guardians of the Galaxy's Player Choices Force Players to Think For Themselves

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy, available now.

Though multiplayer games remain inherently popular, single-player adventures have continued to evolve and innovate. These games have been creating new ways for players to connect with the emotional core of the game worlds, which has typically been achieved by allowing players to influence the narrative through their own choices. A great example of this is Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy, which has made its narrative style as interactive as it is detailed.

The game allows players to take control of Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord, as he leads the Guardians against multiple enemies. However, in between these foes, he has to maintain his friends' relationships and create bonds with other characters in the games that could help the team out much later in the story. But when it comes to Peter's personal journey, the ability for players to pick their path forces them to think outside the box in ways that make the experience feel more personal.

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Perhaps the most emotional example of this mechanic is when Peter has to deny the false reality known as "The Promise," that he and his team are placed in. Within his promise, Peter is reunited with his mother. However, to accept this reality means he dooms the entire galaxy. But to reject this, it's up to the players to figure out how to push themselves away from Meredith Quill's embrace and deny her pleas to trust her. Instead, players have to choose to shoot her with Peter's element gun to break the illusion. Should they not, Peter will be pulled into a world where the Guardians live happily with Peter and his mom until the darkness that created the illusion consumes him. While it's the most emotional choice players make, it isn't the last.

As the story progresses, Peter, fed up with the constant failures the team has been dealt, decides to take a nap. In a dream sequence, he arrives at the Quarantine Zone from the beginning of the game, but he's met with the dark mass that has bonded to a young child named Nikki. As the mass chases Peter, players have the choice to run away. But as he runs, the other Guardians are consumed in a constant loop. The only way to break it is to face the mass and fire upon it. However, what makes the moment so unique is that it also symbolizes Peter realizing he can't run from danger and has to take a stand before it's too late, which pays off in the game's climax.

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In Chapter 10, Test of Faith, Drax is corrupted by The Promise, which leads them to the planet Lamentis to find Adam Warlock and free their friend. While in a creepy cave, they encounter a fog that manifests as past enemies. In one instance, a room with two paths emerges, and the Guardians reminisce about the enemies they've faced. Depending on the enemy the player chooses to acknowledge, that foe will appear in the fog. It isn't until the player chooses to remain silent that the real path will appear, breaking another loop and continuing the story. The moment also shows how violence isn't always the answer.

Perhaps the most important choice in the game also gives players the option of saving Nikki from The Promise and helping her accept the death of her mother, Ko-Rel. Knowing that time is of the essence, players can choose to play along or immediately try to snap Nikki out of it. Although she isn't receptive at first, it isn't long until the player has to get creative to destroy Nikki's promise to help her understand what is real. But her choice depends on how the player relates to her and how easily she trusts Peter. It's an outcome that is left to the players to uncover and understand. However, by doing so, it sums up how Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy has its players think critically to solve moments that pull players into the story even more as they take on a more active role in its progression.

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Nicholas Brooks (1034 Articles Published)

CBR Features Writer Nick Brooks has been writing for over ten years about all things pop culture. He has written for other sites like and When not writing you can find him with his lovely girlfriend, cooking, reading comics, or collecting any new Star Wars Black Series, Marvel Legend, or Transformer. For more of his thoughts on pop culture check out his blog, The Next Panel with Comic Brooks.

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