The Guardians of the Galaxy, as imagined by Eidos-Montréal, take some time to get to know. In the first few hours of the Marvel game set for an Oct. 26 release, they are aggravating caricatures of their cinematic counterparts. Team leader Peter Quill, the Earthling known as Star-Lord and the game’s only playable character, sounds like a ninja turtle. And everyone else seems to hate each other.

But as the team members warm to each other and learn to trust one another, you, the player, start to feel the same. The game features nonstop banter during gameplay that, initially, nearly drove me up the wall. Eventually, the characters started to become more fully fleshed out in ways that are far more expansive than any two-hour film can hope to convey. And the story goes to places the Guardians of the Galaxy movies simply didn’t have time to, both on a planetary level and on a spiritual level. It’s a great game that showcases the merits of long-form storytelling.

Make no mistake, “Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy” the game owns a top-notch script that makes excellent use of the Marvel and Guardians brand, introducing characters, worlds, scenarios and situations that longtime comic fans and moviegoers can only hope to see in future phases of the ongoing Marvel Cinematic Universe. For example, Drax the Destroyer, who was reduced to one-note comic relief in the films, steals the spotlight here as the script plumbs the depths of his emotions and loneliness to great effect. In the films, he only had jokes that revolved around his literal interpretation of the English language. In this game, he retains that personality, but he’s thrown into a variety of situations both humorous and harrowing that deepen our understanding of his motivations and what he means to the team.

I mention all this praise for the game’s writing at the start because scripting has not been an obvious highlight of many Marvel-based video games, which have had recent challenges winning over audiences outside of Sony’s Spider-Man titles. “Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy” by Eidos-Montréal ends up becoming an even better Guardians story than the two blockbuster films combined. That’s not praise I give lightly. And it’s also conditional praise, because the game is essentially a better movie than it is a video game. In fact, most of the game’s running time will be spent in story mode, walking through beautiful, expansive environments toward the next plot point and watching very long cutscenes that stretch 10-plus minutes.

The gameplay itself left me wishing there was less of it. Every time I queued up for another drawn-out fight with laser-sponge enemies, I wished I was playing a more engaging game. That’s not for a lack of effort. Eidos-Montréal created a single-player, team-based game that lifts ideas from their Japanese Square Enix stablemates and “Final Fantasy XV." While Quill is the only playable character, players can use the shoulder buttons to initiate one of four special attacks from one of your four Guardians teammates. Sometimes, certain battle requirements are met where the entire team will attack a single opponent.

The issue is that none of the combat feels impactful, and much of it is basically making Quill run and dodge in circles while applying pew pew laser pressure on an enemy until they’re tender enough for a team-based attack. Quill can punch, but none of it feels particularly potent, either through audio or visual cues. It seems to be a side effect of having such a wide variety of enemies to fight. But as a result, punching a piece of alien jelly has about the same impact as punching a Nova Corps Centurion: very little.

This tedium and softness of the combat never goes away. It might have been alleviated if the game’s design allowed Quill’s elemental guns to be fully formed at the beginning of the game, rather than unlocking it through the story’s linear path. It may seem banal to have Quill’s guns have the four elements of fire, wind, ice and lightning, but it’s true to his comic book roots, and the combat and environmental puzzles could’ve been made more interesting throughout the game. The elemental powers themselves are not exactly revolutionary gameplay features (freeze a thing to proceed, burn a thing to proceed, charge a thing to proceed, wind a thing to proceed), so it makes little sense why they were locked away like unique powers. Once again, the narrative provides a rationale, but from a design perspective, it was a regrettable decision.

Like the nature of Quill’s guns, the game’s strength includes mentioning obscure tidbits about the Marvel cosmic universe. Pulling them into the story and gameplay feels wonderful and magical, as Marvel stories should. But the fighting will never evolve to delight you. If the combat doesn’t grab you in the first hour, it’s not likely to change by the twelfth hour, which is when I finished the game.

You’ll visit many planets. The game makes excellent use of the Marvel license to explore the galaxy in ways the MCU films wish they could, thanks to the amount of time afforded to these characters and plot threads. Longtime comic book fan favorites like Cosmo, the Soviet-accented Space Dog, isn’t just a cameo here, he’s a central plot figure that adds so much to the humor and tone of the story. Cosmo and several other surprise cameos go a long way to legitimizing this project as one of passion, knowledge and heart. Longtime Marvel comic fans will delight to see who and what the developers included here.

The best way to describe this game’s structure is that it is essentially “The Last of Us,” a linear action game that tells its story through banter between characters as the player navigates environments by walking through them slowly, solving simple environmental puzzles and occasionally fighting bad guys. If you’re staying with me, now imagine the role of Joel being replaced by Star-Lord as voiced by a ninja turtle, and Ellie’s role is split up between Rocket, Gamora, Drax and Groot. Those characters similarly become the solutions to every puzzle.

Now imagine those four Ellies never shut up throughout the entirety of the gameplay sections, sometimes repeating lines (which becomes especially grating during combat sequences), and you’re getting a good sense of the pacing of this game. For me, it was a bit exhausting, and it threatened to turn each of these characters — so lovingly scripted by the story — into aggravating caricatures.

Outside of combat, the banter during walking segments itself basically encourages players to navigate these environments slowly. There’s so much written and recorded dialogue, the game was always struggling to keep up with my pace, even if I was merely walking through environments. Jokes and background information would often get cut off because I would stumble into the next narrative checkpoint. The game should be praised for the amount of scenarios the developers wrote and planned for, because even mundane tasks like Rocket opening a door might have new, contextual lines based on whatever’s happening to the team. The game is linear, but it still makes great effort to accommodate many situations. Sometimes, though, this results in the team jabbering nonstop while you’re just trying to soak in detail and atmosphere or trying to figure out a puzzle.

The worst of this comes during the “Huddle Up” mechanic, which causes the entire game to pause for the same unskippable cutscene of the Guardians drawing close for a “Friday Night Lights” speech from Quill (which repeats throughout the entire game, no matter what the context) to get combat bonuses in battle. The game is challenging enough to require these often, and it made playing the game so much more unlikable.

Sometimes, during these sequences, I caught a glimpse of this game’s promise as a single-player, team-based game. When Wham’s “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” blares across the battlefield and the entire team converges on a single enemy for devastating, balletic attacks, you start to feel like you might be experiencing a playable version of the second film’s bouncing introduction sequence.

But once the dust settles, the script, led by narrative director Mary DeMarle, takes over, and I’m relieved. The humor once again starts to make sense and isn’t fueled by non sequiturs like the gameplay banter. The characters are allowed to be more comfortably themselves rather than feeling like they’re always posing and snarking for a trailer or highlight reel.

The game, in the same vein as “Final Fantasy XV,” provides a very good template from which to build future team-based games. While the game’s longevity and value would certainly be higher if it were built as both a single-player and cooperative multiplayer game, it was wise to focus on honing one aspect first before derailing the structure and heart of a Marvel superhero story, which plagued Crystal Dynamics’s “Marvel’s Avengers.” It’s just that “Guardians” probably needed more time in the oven to refine — the game has some prominent visual bugs — and it needed to feel more engaging. Even in “Final Fantasy XV,” the team-based attacks were accentuated by magical, impactful sparks. In “Guardians,” most enemies just kind of rag doll and crumple as a limp corpse with little feedback.

By the end, it was the script of “Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy” that won over my hardened, cynical heart. I have not been a fan of the Guardians brand, and although I respect and greatly admire the two James Gunn films, their plots and characters left me feeling wary of anything with too much modern-day snark and cynicism. This game is not that.

Even if Quill sounds like a surfer bro, surfer bros can sometimes be among the most earnest people you’ve ever met once you actually get to know them. The same goes for Quill and co. Their personalities may seem like the stereotypes you’ve always heard, but spend a bit more time with them, and you’ll be glad you did.