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The Expanse: A Telltale Series Review – A Fresh Start

It was heartbreaking news back in September 2018 to hear that Telltale Games were closing up shop. They brought back the point & click genre to the forefront with hits such as The Walking Dead, Wolf Among Us, and Tales from The Borderlands. Shortly after the closure, many of the assets along with the name were purchased by LCG Entertainment.

The company vowed to continue the legacy of Telltale Games by creating high-quality point & click adventure games. So here we are in 2023 and the first new release has arrived titled The Expanse: A Telltale Series. The game is developed by Deck Nine who are best known for another hit point & click adventure series called Life is Strange.

Let me answer your first obvious question. Do you need to have watched the show or read the novels to understand the game’s story? The answer is no…but it would definitely immerse you a bit more when knowing the lore. The conflict between the Earthers, Belters, and Martians is some of the best space sci-fi ever written. In fact, I’m currently in the middle of season 3 of my rewatch of the entire series.

The Expanse: A Telltale Series is clearly a visual upgrade from the cell shade art style almost every previous Telltale game had. The realistic character models are a much-welcomed change, especially for a game that is heavily focused on decision-making and reading other characters’ facial expressions. Is he lying to me? Does this person really consider me a friend? These choices require you not to just focus on the conversations but also on the facial gestures and character expressions which have been done beautifully well. Right now, only the first episode is currently available for the 5 episode series. I will have the release schedule listed at the end of this review.

The gameplay is more reminiscent of Life is Strange in that you move around freely and explore/interact with objects in the environment, so no point-and-click with an on-screen pointer. The majority of the first episode takes place on an “abandoned ship”.

You take on the role of Camina Drummer who is performed by Cara Gee who also played this character in The Expanse. Gee was a fantastic character on the show and does an amazing job delivering her lines in the Belter accent which is Creole English. In the game, Drummer is part of a scavenger team hoping to score big from the loot found on this ship.

Since the game is heavily story-driven, I highly recommend exploring every inch of the ship. If the mark says go right, go left. I found tons of readable material (which is also read by Drummer) that not only helps explain the story but also adds to dialogue choices when in conversations. When in a conversation, you will have a couple of options to choose from. You may have the option to hit or perform some form of physical contact. If chosen, it will play out automatically so no stress of missing a QTE here.

On that note, the action portions of the gameplay are performed by QTE and are very time forgiving. Press left or right when prompted on the screen, and the same goes with face button prompts. Again, this is the first episode so maybe a few new elements will pop up in later episodes.

One of the main complaints with previous Telltale titles is the character choices never really mattered once the story ended. They pretty much always ended with the same result excluding some of the earlier The Walking Dead seasons. I can tell you without spoiling the story that a key choice will need to be made in this first episode which I’m sure was intentional, to let fans know this will NOT be a predictable streamlined story. There will be twists & turns to keep you invested.

The Expanse: A Telltale Series feels true to the source material in the story and presentation. Tapping Deck Nine to go forward in this new chapter of Telltale was a fantastic idea. I along with many loved Life is Strange and said “MAN, I wish the Telltale games could look and feel like this”. Well, that dream has come true. I look forward to playing the next episodes and I have to admit, I’m glad to see the Telltale Games name back in the new release window.

Episode 1 – Archer’s ParadoxJuly 27
Episode 2 – Hunting GroundsAugust 10
Episode 3 – First OnesAugust 24
Episode 4 – Impossible ObjectsSeptember 7
Episode 5 – Europa’s FollySeptember 21

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This review was written based on a digital review copy of The Expanse: A Telltale Series for Xbox Series X provided by Telltale Games and Deck Nine

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