The Expanse: A Telltale Series
We sit down and review The Expanse: A Telltale Series. The third episode of the choose-our-adventure prequel to the IP. Here is our review of The Expanse so far
Here we go with the next episode of The Expanse: A Telltale Series out there for us all. A few little hiccups later and we are finally able to cover the continuation of the story that Deck Nine has been crafting out there for us all. Now, though, we get to dive a little further into the time of things and see if any of our past choices are finally going to kick us in the ass or pay off in the long run of it all. Here we go with our review of the third episode and how it is handling more of the universe of The Expanse and the story many have come to love out there.
Hot off the fight with some space pirates out there, our space pirates finally have made it to the mysterious big score they were talked into finding. A big score that happens to be inside a defunct mining operation that Drummer needs to set foot into to find things out. All is not as it seems, though, and Drummer quickly learns how much darker the universe can be and why some allies are better, or worse, than others along the way. Oh, the horrors out there in the void of space and how the human mind is able to handle it all…
I have not talked about it much before, but in episode three of The Expanse: A Telltale Series it becomes a shining example of why it would be nice to have a recap of things that happened in the previous episode. This has never been the case before now and the game does not have anything that plays before each new episode. Maybe this is due to the fact that the teams figured that the two-week release schedule would allow players playing live to have everything fresh in their heads already. This is not the case and I was left rather confused a bit when kicking things off in this episode of The Expanse. It almost felt like it was a massive time skip or that I missed a massive part of the game by starting off as it did. There is a way to do this in the game, sure, but it feels like it should be something automatic with an option to skip instead of forcing the player to seek it out. More of a nitpick on my end, but worth noting as I had to pause and rewatch my last gameplay session to remind myself of what was going on in the game.
Next, and I will try not to give any spoilers in the writing here, it feels like we have hit a spot in The Expanse where some of our choices from the past should be coming back to help or bite us in the ass. Which, some of them finally do. The only issue with it is, it feels like none of them mattered in the past now as the character motivations I received on things did not line up with any of their actions. Like, for instance, I saved and helped a few characters in the past with the message that they would remember this. Only to have in this episode have them do a complete 180° turn and lash out at me. What was the point of saving their lives and them being thankful if they were just going to toss me out in the vastness of space? To keep the railroad narrative going while making me feel good about myself, maybe? This is where it felt like nothing I do in The Expanse is actually going to matter even if the final screen states things could have gone down differently. Almost as if the gameplay loop is losing what made it a winning thing from other titles in the past.
Even though in the past episodes of The Expanse here we have been given more to do than watch a story play out and walk from place to place, this episode changes things up just a bit more. It actually adds a new puzzle element to the game to challenge us a little more. It is nothing overly complicated, but it fits in the universe while also making us have to think a bit more about how to press forward. This new puzzle is a bit like a “Pipe Dream” style of thing where we have to divert power from one location to another to unlock a few doors. Nothing complicated or hard but it does make us have to take in the surroundings and plan ahead a little more. All while not breaking up the pacing of The Expanse: A Telltale Series in any way. It was a nice little treat to have in the mix along with the new tone that the game is starting to take in the current line of episodes we have coming. This, will bring me to the next aspect that I started to love in this game.
Space is a scary place and it feels like The Expanse always aimed to tackle that aspect out there. In the game, up to now, it felt a little more like an adventure story and followed the usual story beats of that. Here, though, we get a shift to the darkness, loneliness, and horrors that are out there in the void. Sure, there are some of the adventure elements in the mix still, but here we get to see the true darkness take hold in the worldbuilding, tone, and settings of the game. In fact, and it bothers me it is a selling point, we have to walk through a tome filled with coffins for children in this story. Not in a depraved manner, but in a way that is more telling of the state of mind the humans in The Expanse are at than any spoken word of dialog. Storytelling through the environment is fully on point in this episode while it was only slightly touched upon in the previous ones. This is a massive thing for me since I do enjoy moving about the world to take it in and see why some choices were made while others were not. It adds so much while taking so little. Even if it goes to some very dark places in this episode.
At this point in The Expanse: A Telltale Series, I am locked in to see how it all comes to an end. That said, if I was not in that mindset, this would be one of those episodes that made me want to stop and not care anymore for it all. Mainly because it is starting to feel as if it does not matter what choices we make and the story is going to unfold as it will. It would not be a big problem if that was not the core gameplay mechanic of the game and style of it all. If we were just going through the motions and the choices never mattered from the start, this would be a fun narrative to go down with the other storytelling features and styles getting mixed in, but it is hard to recommend a title that is supposed to be filled with choices that matter when it does not feel as if any of them do. If you are a fan of The Expanse, you will still want to keep going with it. If you are a fan of games where it feels like you can sway the outcomes, this is where it feels like it is no longer that game and you will have to find other things in it to keep you entertained and engaged.
I give The Expanse: A Telltale Series 4 Bits Of Scavenged Things on the Bits Of Scavenged Things scale.
The Expanse: A Telltale Series was developed by Deck Nine and published by Telltale Games for the PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC on July 27th, 2023. A PlayStation copy of the game was provided by the publisher for reviewing purposes.