After two episodes raising interesting questions and establishing characters, Telltale's Guardians of the Galaxy maintains the same momentum with Episode 3: More Than a Feeling. It starts out with flashback scenes that are well-suited to the Telltale style of storytelling, and the difficult decisions it asks you to make call back to previous episodes' choices in engaging ways. However, it's held back by inconsistent pacing and poorly executed exploration sections.
Thanks to the Eternity Forge, a relic with the ability to resurrect the dead, the Guardians have been experiencing visions and vivid memories of their pasts. The episode starts with a scene from Peter's childhood, then shifts to one from Gamora's life with her sister Nebula and Thanos. Seeing how Gamora and Nebula used to interact is intriguing, especially since you're given a few choices in how to treat Nebula while in the memory. It's also satisfying coming off of the previous episodes, where Gamora's relationship with Nebula was positioned as conflict but lacked the context to be meaningful.
Peter and Gamora then discover Mantis, a being connected to the Eternity Forge who has the ability to read people's emotions. Mantis reveals that she has been using Peter's memories of his mother to guide him to her--and that the Eternity Forge can either be given the power to resurrect anyone or destroyed forever. The choice lies in your hands: power up the Forge and resurrect Rocket's lost love and Drax's family, or destroy it at Gamora's urging and prevent the revival of an evil army. This is the main conflict of the episode, and it's not an easy choice to make.
Though there's little action in Episode 3 whatsoever, the moral questions are enough to drive the story forward. Using Mantis' power, Nebula shows you her side of the sisters' troubled relationship through the same memory you saw from Gamora's point of view. It's one of the highlights of the episode; where I previously found it incredibly easy to side with Gamora in every situation, understanding her faults through Nebula's eyes recentered me. That in turn made the choice to empower or destroy the Forge harder and far more weighty, since Gamora's support wasn't enough to make the decision for me.
Even with the right amount of intrigue, the pacing of the episode feels off. With one main conflict at its center, the episode feels empty in places, as if there should be more to do or more of Telltale's characteristic choices to make. For an episode that deals with so much--and with such high stakes--it ends just as it's ramping up in order to leave room for later episodes, which makes the two hours it takes to get there feel a bit slow and dull in retrospect.
That's made more pronounced by a particularly aggravating exploration and investigation sequence that requires you to spam one command until you trigger the next scene--but this isn't at all obvious just walking around and trying to figure out the solution. It takes way longer than it should, and it's yet another instance in the series of the more "game"-like elements feeling out of place and intrusive.
Like the previous two episodes, Episode 3 of Guardians gains enough momentum with its most engaging relationships and story beats to carry itself forward. It continues to build upon its characters and gives meaning to its choices, but it also suffers from similar problems, including poor gamified sequences. A cliffhanger ending interrupts the excitement of the scene and ends up feeling forced, which is less intriguing after two prior episodes of manufactured suspense.