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Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack made me feel like a true Star-Lord Dot Esports

This feature is part of the Dot Plays 2023 series, where we’re discussing the games that had us hooked in 2023, whether it’s old games, new games, indie gems, or something in between. You can check out the entire series here.

Believe it or not, my favorite Marvel movie isn’t Avengers or Spider-Man, but Guardians of the Galaxy. The story of a bunch of misfits traveling across the galaxy trying to become famous heroes is lighthearted and relatable, because, at the core, Peter Quill is just a normal guy trying to make it, despite having god-like powers from his father.

When I launched Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy for the first time, I of course expected the game to have at least some focus on music. After all, Peter and his tunes are inseparable. But the soundtrack ended up being far more than I expected. It helped create an unforgettable superhero setting, and in my eyes (and ears), turned Guardians of the Galaxy from a good game into a great one.

The Gardeners of the Galaxy

Peter Quill and the Guardians of the Galaxy fighting enemies
Combat might look more epic than it actually is. Image via Eidos-Montréal

The game has a few strong features the developer absolutely nailed. The characters interact with each other and grow together throughout the story, there are breathtaking visuals of locations like the Quarantine Zone (even though it’s just slimy junk in space), and the Guardians universe is portrayed beautifully throughout, with a diverse and surprisingly plentiful range of unique areas to visit.

What didn’t land quite as well was the gameplay. Combat was underwhelming: As soon as I fired Peter’s blasters for the first time, I was disappointed. His weapons felt like water guns, and while you do unlock new elements for them, the combat loop is usually the same regardless—point and shoot. Combos with other characters do add it a bit of diversity, but in the end, I should be at the center of attention, not them.

That song belongs to me

I was ready to close my eyes during combat and just play the game for the sake of seeing my favorite characters on screen. To my surprise, though, the game’s soundtrack came to the rescue. I’m not even talking about the licensed songs—the OST alone was more than enough to get me in the mood for superhero action.

While it’s hard to describe this music with words, the OST has a distinct theme similar in style to the Guardians of the Galaxy movie theme. It’s adapted for different moods, environments, and story moments, but it’s always epic and upbeat. I am playing a hero after all. If you played Marvel’s Spider-Man, it has a similar feel but with a Guardians spin on it.

Guardians of the Galaxy huddling up
Time to encourage your team. Image via Eidos-Montréal

I must mention the game’s “Huddle Up” feature. In the middle of battle, you can bring the Guardians together to give them a pep talk. Regardless of the outcome, Peter will turn on his music player and play one of the licensed songs. Just like the movies, it gives combat personality and leads to fun and quirky encounters, like when I was listening to Don’t Worry Be Happy during the final boss fight.

This is our time to go from zero to hero

Star-Lord’s backstory in this game is different from any other Guardians iterations. Here, he gets his name from the fictional 80s rock band “Star-Lord.” Of course, the band isn’t real, but it easily could’ve been.

Senior Audio Director for Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, Steve Szczepkowski, spoke about how, early in development, they got the idea to create the Star-Lord band. With his background in music, Szczepkowski was excited to create a band for the game, and along with Yohann Boudreault, wrote a full album of 10 awesome songs that featured in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy.

Let’s just say not many other game developers would do the same to take their game’s soundtrack to the next level. Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy would’ve featured strong music themes anyway, but these guys went the extra mile to get players immersed in the story, world, and atmosphere.

Two games came to mind that did a similar thing: Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and Far Cry 5. Fallen Order featured the song Sugaan Essena performed by the Mongolian band The Hu, while Far Cry 5‘s soundtrack included a few country music albums. Both games had fantastic soundtracks, but neither were as intrinsically linked to music as Guardians of the Galaxy.

A great soundtrack won’t magically fix a game’s issues—Far Cry 5 still felt like a grind with its repetitive missions and activities—but I still remember it fondly, just like Fallen Order and Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, thanks to all the extra effort put into the sound and music.

This is the reason I strongly believe developers should invest more in their games’ soundtracks, as it makes them truly exciting and memorable. I’m sure my Spotify Wrapped 2023 will have at least one of the Star-Lord band’s songs in there.

Edward Strazd

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