Music is an essential part of the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, so it’s no surprise music plays a key role in the gameplay experience of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, the new game available for PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One, PC digital, and streaming via GeForce NOW.
The game was produced by Canadian development studio Eidos-Montréal, best-known for the action role-playing series, Deus Ex. Early on in the game’s conception, creative director Jean-François Dugas had a brainwave that went on to influence the entire visual and audio aesthetic.
The origins of main character Peter Quill’s adopted name, Star-Lord, have long been a subject of speculation among Guardians geeks, but Dugas found a neat solution: Quill borrowed the name from his favourite heavy metal band when he was growing up in the 1980s.
To flesh out this narrative tangent, senior audio director Steve Szczepkowski set about compiling a bunch of ‘80s classics for inclusion in the game’s soundtrack. As a result, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy features plenty of decadent rock songs, including Mötley Crüe’s “Kickstart My Heart”, Def Leppard’s “Rock (Till You Drop)” and the disco rock classic “Every 1’s a Winner” by Hot Chocolate.
Watch the Official Launch Trailer for Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy
The game also hosts a fulsome supply of anthemic new wave numbers, including Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding Out For a Hero”, Tears For Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”, and Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot”.
But the soundtrack isn’t purely an exercise in nostalgia. Rather, the songs—which appear on Peter Quill’s ever-trusty cassette player as well as the jukebox on the crew’s ship, the Milano—also play a functional role within the game.
One of the game’s most unique features is the huddle, wherein Quill gathers his fellow Guardians together to make a motivational speech ahead of battle. According to Szczepkowski, the idea for the huddle emerged as a means of getting the music into the game’s combat sequences.
“What if Peter hits his cassette player and cues up one of his songs and that infuses the team to fight even harder and better?” said Szczepkowski. This meant the music on the soundtrack needed to be more than just fun and nostalgic; it also needed to work in the context of the huddle.
The upshot of these creative decisions becomes apparent as soon as you start playing the game. “Once you actually saw the Guardians fighting to something like Culture Club, where it’s not what you would think as music that fits with it, it worked so well and people were smiling,” said Szczepkowski.
That’s only a fraction of what makes the musical experience of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy so unique. Dugas had big ideas for the story of the band Star-Lord, who Peter Quill loved enough to rechristen himself in their honour. He wanted Szczepkowski to bring the fictional band to life.
Szczepkowski, who’s been a huge KISS fan since his youth, was more than up to the task. Together with fellow Montréal musician Yohann Boudreault, Szczepkowski wrote, produced and recorded an entire album of Star-Lord originals—vintage hard rock in the style of Motörhead and Judas Priest.
For Szczepkowski, the sound of the Star-Lord band perfectly complements the interactions between Star-Lord and his fellow galaxy guards, Gamora, Drax, Groot and Rocket. “The Guardians are pretty much a rock’n’roll band,” he said. “They are a band of misfits that found each other and have a common goal.”
But it’s not all ‘80s cosplay. In fact, the most epic and cinematic component of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is the game’s original score. Veteran British composer Richard Jacques wrote the orchestral score, which was recorded at London’s Abbey Road Studios.
Jacques has previously worked on blockbuster games like James Bond 007: Blood Stone and Mass Effect. His Marvel’s Guardians Of the Galaxy score is every bit as monumental as his reputation suggests.
“When you get into those big battles and you hear the score start mounting up, you almost weep when you hear it because it’s just so heartfelt,” said Szczepkowski.
The combination of Jacques’ score, Szczepkowski’s Star-Lord originals and the feast of purposefully chosen ‘80s classics makes for a unique, multi-dimensional game-playing experience.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is available now for PlayStation®5, PlayStation®4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and PC. For more information, visit: gotggame.com.