HomeReviews3/5 ReviewThe Expanse: A Telltale Series - Episode 1 Review

The Expanse: A Telltale Series – Episode 1 Review

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Telltale Games are back and, with a helping hand from Life is Strange: Before the Storm developers Deck Nine, they’ve launched a new episodic adventure. It’s based on the world of James S.A. Corey’s hit book series and television show, The Expanse. Focusing on the ruthless Camina Drummer, you’ll get to embark upon an origin story of sorts in The Expanse: A Telltale Series, covering events long before what has been seen on the show.

With the first episode, “Archer’s Paradox”, ready to delve into, will it signify a triumphant return for Telltale Games, or is The Expanse: A Telltale Series already showing signs of being a potential wreck?

the expanse a telltale series review pic
The formidable Camina Drummer

In episode one, you’re thrust immediately into the role of XO (Executive Officer) Camina Drummer aboard the Artemis. Working alongside Captain Garrison Cox, they lead a scavenger crew through the outer regions of the Belt, hunting down a big payday to see them set for life. It’s dangerous out there though, and after stumbling upon a wrecked U.N.N. (United Nations Navy) ship, trouble is afoot. Not only is there a threat of pirates, who have ransacked the place beforehand, but there’s also discontent between crew members, which puts additional pressure on Drummer to make the right calls.

Naturally, as an opening episode, introductions to the characters you’ll be sharing this adventure with are a huge part of proceedings. So it’s a shame how underwhelming it is when meeting the majority of them. I don’t particularly care what happens to any of my crewmates, which is a real problem in regards to adding extra weight to important decisions. Most of that is down to meaningless and fleeting conversation, however the voice acting is below par on the whole. 

Getting Cara Gee to voice the character she plays on screen, Drummer, should yield a better performance than what’s here. It feels phoned in and to make matters worse, her inner monologues suffer from poor audio that doesn’t resonate well. On top of that, pilot Khan Tran sounds like someone putting on a fake voice, badly. Unfortunately, only the ship’s medic, Dr. Virgil Marks, delivers a totally convincing effort throughout. 

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Exploring the wreckage of the U.N.N. ship

Despite suggestions that The Expanse: A Telltale Series will be easy enough to follow for those unfamiliar with the universe, I must disagree slightly. There’s a lot of lingo that you just won’t understand and the whole premise isn’t really explained here. That said, fans of the show will absolutely appreciate the references found while interacting with things in areas you’re able to explore. That’s especially true in regards a cool little voice cameo.

And speaking of exploration, arguably the best part of this episode involves scouring the wrecked ship. It allows you to float around using zero-g thrusters and walk on the ceiling courtesy of mag boots. Diving into every nook and cranny to find items to scavenge is a must, with your haul – or lack of – potentially shaping the future. The atmosphere on the shipwreck is great too; it’s very unsettling and eerie due to the remnants of the pirate attack. Severed heads and blood everywhere is definitely a memorable calling card.

As for action elsewhere, there are two separate quick-time events to test your reactions. On the plus side, I like that accessibility options are in place for anyone struggling with the pace of these button inputs. It’s possible to extend the timer or have an infinite amount of time to react. On the downside, the sole fight sequence has incredibly dull choreography and the other QTE is equally boring.

Captain Cox has been up to no good!

It’s hard to comment on the choices made in The Expanse: A Telltale Series “Archer’s Paradox” as the consequences aren’t likely to be realised until later in the series. The fact there are just the two major decisions to ponder, and one of them is alluded to during the opening scene, is less than preferred, but I am interested in whether the more frequent smaller choices have much impact.

So, that’s episode one “Archer’s Paradox” done and dusted in roughly an hour, leaving me feeling indifferent about how The Expanse: A Telltale Series will pan out. The zero-g and exploration aspects are undoubtedly a draw, providing more interactive features than most Telltale games offer. Long-time fans will certainly be pleased by the ways in which the world they know is woven into the game seamlessly too. In contrast to that though, the storytelling isn’t up to scratch with supporting characters you will struggle to care about. It’s too early to tell how much influence you have on the narrative, but before then it has to do better to hook you in.

Don’t write off The Expanse: A Telltale Series yet, however a mediocre first episode is far from ideal.

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Exploring and scavenging in zero-g
  • Geared up for fans to get the most out of it
  • Great accessibility options
Cons:
  • Lacklustre storytelling and fleeting conversations
  • Voice acting
  • QTEs
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to - Telltale Games
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (reviewed), Xbox One, PS5, PS4, PC
  • Release date and price - 27 July 2023 | £33.49
James Birks
James Birks
Been gaming casually since the SNES as a youngster but found my true passion for games on the Playstation 1 (the forbidden word ooo). My addiction grew to its pinnacle with the purchase of an Xbox 360 & Xbox Live Service. A recovering GS hunter that will still play literally any game.
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Exploring and scavenging in zero-g</li> <li>Geared up for fans to get the most out of it</li> <li>Great accessibility options</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Lacklustre storytelling and fleeting conversations</li> <li>Voice acting</li> <li>QTEs</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to - Telltale Games</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (reviewed), Xbox One, PS5, PS4, PC <li>Release date and price - 27 July 2023 | £33.49</li>The Expanse: A Telltale Series - Episode 1 Review
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