One of my favorite things about Eidos-Montreal’s take on Guardians of the Galaxy is its commitment to making the Milano, the ship the aforementioned Guardians use to travel through the stars, feel like a lived-in space. While it’s not a super fair comparison considering the games came out a decade apart, I find myself thinking back on the Normandy and the Tempest of the Mass Effect series. While the Normandy felt like a pretty sterile space in the first game, it grew to feel like a home by Mass Effect 3. The Tempest in Mass Effect: Andromeda was an upgrade, with areas dedicated to each character complete with some props that spoke to the person living there. But despite my fondness for those spaceships, the Milano sets a new standard for video game spaceships, for the developer’s attention to tiny touches has resulted in one of my favorite running gags of the game.
Little environmental details found all over the Milano tell the stories of the people who live there. Star-Lord keeps a 10-dollar-bill on his mirror to remind him of his home back on Earth. Rocket’s room is an absolute mess of gadgets and gizmos. Unlike the rooms belonging to the rest of the crew, you’ll find no bed; just a hammock big enough to fit the small raccoon. His workshop table is a wreck, covered in projects he’s either had to put down for a mission or forgotten about entirely. Gamora’s nightstand has a table dedicated to collectibles she’s gathered throughout her travels across space, a display of souvenirs from the worlds she once conquered under Thanos but now saves as part of the Guardians.
All of these rooms lead to a central living room complete with couches and a makeshift coffee table. There are always blankets thrown about like someone was napping there recently. Crates are scattered through the room as if someone mindlessly dropped them after a rough mission and just never got around to moving them somewhere more suited for storage. Walking through the Milano feels like walking through the home of a bunch of burnt-out college kids who either don’t know how (or don’t care) to leave a room without it looking like a hurricane just passed through.
It feels like a place where people exist, and each unfolded blanket and cast-aside widget is proof that Star-Lord and his merry band of misfits were there. It’s also why one of the game’s silliest running gameplay gags, the team’s refrigerator, is so effective.
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In the living area, there’s a small kitchen complete with a sink, dishes, and a refrigerator to keep all the Guardians’ food in. The first time I passed by the refrigerator as Star-Lord, it was left open. I closed it, which prompted the team leader to call out to no one, in particular, to keep the fridge closed lest we ruin all our hard-earned food. I forgot about it and headed out on our first mission.
When I got back onto the Milano, I started making my rounds checking in with all my teammates. In the corner of my eye, I saw the refrigerator was left open again as I made my way to Rocket’s workshop. I walked over and closed it. All it took was a simple tap of the triangle button on my controller. But I started to wonder if I had imagined closing it last time, or reloaded a save prior to closing it.
Nope. Turns out, someone among the esteemed Guardians of the Galaxy was raised in a barn and doesn’t know how to close a refrigerator so that we aren’t suddenly stranded in space without edible food. This has lasted the entire game thus far. As I’m forced for the umpteenth time to close the indefinitely agape refrigerator every time I walk into the living room area, I wonder who the culprit is. Is it Rocket, so enamored by whatever he’s working on that he forgets to shut the door after grabbing a mid-work snack? Is it Drax, so confused by a non-literal human idiom that his mind wandered as he walked away from the chilling storage unit? Or perhaps it’s Kammy the space llama, who doesn’t know any better because she’s a wild animal?
I don’t know if I’m going to find out who the criminal stowing away on my ship is. But I do know that, until they’re caught, my job as the captain of the Milano is to ensure that the refrigerator is closed and our food is safe from the ruffians who live on my spacecraft.
Guardians of the Galaxy is pretty good, y’all.
Update: So, I beat the game today. And it turns out, the refrigerator isn’t being left open by anyone on the ship. It’s just broken, according to Mantis. The written epilogue even acknowledges it as such, saying that Peter is using the Key to Knowhere to keep it propped shut.
iT's BrOkEn pic.twitter.com/5mryLbqLFC
— Kenneth Shepard (@shepardcdr) October 31, 2021