I went into this one figuring out completely nothing about The Expanse — neither the books nor the TV sequence. The one factor I knew concerning the vital darling IP was that it, certainly, appeared to transcend each leisure medium it discovered itself part of. I sometimes dedicate a specific amount of prep when coming into the ambiance of such a revered large, however I made a decision to go in blissfully ignorant for 2 causes. For starters, I imagine that an “outsider opinion” retains the reviewer’s perspective contemporary and prevents any preliminary biases that might sway a verdict by some means, particularly for these like me who knew little or no about The Expanse and could also be intimidated by the viewpoints of a hardcore fanatic. And secondly, what I lack in any formal credentials for The Expanse, I greater than make up for as somebody with an intense adoration for Telltale Video games.
When the narrative-driven juggernaut all of the sudden crashed and burned in 2018, I used to be devastated. On a “mainstream” scale, Telltale made the “graphic journey” that harkened again to the traditional point-and-click style (which hadn’t been seen as financially viable for fairly a while previous to the studio’s emergence) of gaming cool once more. As soon as that first magical season of The Strolling Useless was launched, it was off to the races. If it was Telltale, I used to be there. The Strolling Useless, Batman, Sam & Max, Guardians of the Galaxy, Recreation of Thrones, Tales from the Borderlands, The Wolf Amongst Us (my private favourite) — I even gave the bizarre Minecraft sport an opportunity!
So, when Telltale introduced it was “again” in 2019, I joined the general public consensus that agreed the prospect, at greatest, appeared too good to be true. Lots of the former inventive powers chargeable for bringing the corporate’s greatest initiatives to life had been scattered to the wind — becoming a member of different sport builders if not outright leaving the business altogether — and it was troublesome to be something greater than cautiously optimistic for a complete reset. However to get to the purpose of this needlessly lengthy introduction, it’s protected to say that with The Expanse, Telltale (alongside Deck 9) has come again with a vengeance to reclaim its crown in a panorama the place the graphic journey subgenre now has some fierce competitors abound.
In Telltale’s model of The Expanse, you play as Camina Drummer, an XO (Govt Officer) aboard the Artemis spaceship tasked with conserving a ragtag scavenger crew consistent with the promise of impending riches from the “heist of the century.” This isn’t the one time the group has had the proverbial golden carrot dangled in entrance of them, and after many lackluster positive factors from earlier scavenging missions, tensions are reaching a boiling level. Provides are operating low. Morale is dropping to mutinous depths. The sport’s opening scene wastes no time telling gamers that the continuing state of affairs has gone nuclear. However earlier than Camina could make a life-altering choice, we’re snatched again hours earlier the place Camina and Garrison Cox, the Artemis’ roguish captain, are discussing a close-by area vessel which will maintain the reply to their issues.
From The Expanse’s beginning moments, one lingering worry of mine was shortly dispelled; it is a Telltale that has dedicated itself to evolve from its outdated strategies. The place there have been noticeable jittery and janky animations and transitions within the “outdated days,” now scenes play out easily with crisp facial expressions which are higher than ever. Simply watching the minor grimaces, winces, and smirks between characters makes for a much more immersive expertise than the earlier expectation of merely accepting anticipated technical shortcomings. Moreover, the sound design is one thing that notably impressed me. There are delicate auditory nuances between characters having a direct dialog, talking to at least one one other whereas carrying their helmets — barely muffled speech and all — and crackling, static-lined long-distance radio communication.
Even the way in which Telltale tells Camina’s story is a serious improve; The Expanse is extra fascinated by giving gamers extra autonomy than merely selecting dialogue choices and having fun with characters’ random ideas when deciding on specific objects. Now (and with the flexibility to make the most of your zero-g thrusters to vastly increase your exploratory capabilities), gamers are inspired to take the “journey” a part of “graphic journey” severely and search areas for sources and different goodies. It’s attainable that Camina will have the ability to bond together with her different crewmates by discovering one thing that faucets into a personality’s historical past or information with particular findings. It’s additionally outstanding that a lot consideration was paid to rewarding gamers for totally scouring locations for treasured loot, giving extra goal to the truth that you’re a gang of scavengers desperately selecting via a vessel’s bones to dwell one other day.
Proper, you’re possible interested by that zero-gravity half, huh? Sure, you’ll spend a good portion of this primary episode floating round gleefully whereas exploring — and higher nonetheless, it controls like a dream! When the sport initially launched the idea, I admit to being afraid it’d be irritating. Nevertheless it’s simply essentially the most enjoyable I’ve had in a Telltale sport thus far. Actually, you have to diligently use zero gravity to achieve some hidden nooks, and it was a implausible approach to make the zero-gravity mechanic greater than only a senseless distraction.
What I cared essentially the most about, above all else, was the meat and potatoes that was the story and characters. Although one may argue the usual was already set as the general narrative serves as a prequel to the principle happenings of The Expanse’s continuity, Telltale nailed the core forged of characters, particularly Camina — somebody who already has a mysterious previous on her residence planet and completely balances authority and badassery with lighthearted playfulness when the state of affairs requires it. Through the two and a half hours I spent with Camina and the Artemis crew, sufficient time was given to endear every character to me and pressure my hand into the unenviable (possible unrealistic) purpose to maintain everybody alive — and from turning on one another.
So far as the pacing goes (and with out touching upon main spoilers), there’s loads of uncertainty all through this primary episode — among the many Artemis crew and alongside the scavenger mission you’re tasked to finish. An unsettling thriller underpins the crew’s endeavors, resulting in Telltale’s signature main selections the place, in a single occasion, I prioritized the security of a crewmate over the enticement of sources — a call I’ll come to remorse contemplating the general sense I missed some important objects which will very properly result in sure dying later.
It’s completely too early to say whether or not or not Telltale can preserve its momentum all through The Expanse’s scheduled 5 (six together with the bonus content material) episodes. Nevertheless, this was an exceptional opening salvo proving that the very last thing Telltale plans to do is go into that good night time. As a substitute of a defeated former titan spoken about in frenzied, hushed whispers of its glory days, a resurrected legend has formally returned to rumble with the most effective narrative-driven video games on the town. I solely hope that the tip result’s an genuine revival of one of many greats and never a pretender carrying Telltale’s hollowed-out husk to idiot the plenty into believing its lies.
This evaluate is predicated on the PlayStation 5 model of the sport. A duplicate was supplied for evaluate by Telltale Video games.
The Expanse arrives with loads of narrative grace, fascinating characters, and enjoyable gameplay implements that put a heavy emphasis on exploration and discovery – however time will inform if Telltale can retain its high-velocity momentum in future installments.
The Expanse: A Telltale Sequence Episode 1