The Expanse A Telltale Series Review: Strikes a Cosmic Chord
In the dim glow of your monitor, you find yourself aboard the Artemis, a scavenger ship floating in the cold vacuum of space. You’re not just playing a game; you’re stepping into a universe—a universe that fans of the TV series “The Expanse” know all too well. Developed by Deck Nine in collaboration with Telltale Games, “The Expanse: A Telltale Series” offers a narrative-driven experience that honors its source material and charts its own course.
The game serves as a prequel to the TV series, focusing on Camina Drummer, modeled and voiced by the inimitable Cara Gee, the Executive Officer of the Artemis. Unlike other adaptations that often suffer from an overload of exposition, “The Expanse” opts for a more nuanced approach. It relegates much of the setting’s backstory to audio and text logs scattered throughout its world, allowing the game to show rather than tell its tale. This is a smart move, as it lets the interactions between Drummer and her supporting cast illuminate the world they inhabit. Characters that could easily have been clichés in less skilled hands come alive as genuine products of their harsh, spacefaring environment.
While the game successfully delves into Drummer’s backstory, providing a fresh perspective on a beloved character, it sometimes feels constrained by its prequel status. The character development, although compelling, can also feel rushed due to the brevity of the episodes.
The gameplay mechanics blend familiar Telltale elements and new features, thanks to its departure from the standard Telltale formula by allowing players to explore a three-dimensional environment, such as zero-gravity environments. The game also lets us hear Drummer’s inner monologue, a feature not present in the TV series but that creates a deeper connection between the player and the protagonist. Quick Time Events (QTEs) make a return, albeit less frequently, as brief interludes.
As an adaptation, “The Expense” does an admirable job of capturing the essence of the TV series. The hard sci-fi elements, the political undertones, and even the “lived-in” feel of the environments are all there. However, the game’s episodic nature and shorter runtime mean it can’t delve as deeply into the complex political and social themes the series is known for.
“The Expanse: A Telltale Series” is a commendable effort that will undoubtedly please fans of the series while offering enough to engage newcomers. It’s a game that respects its source material while daring to add layers of complexity.
RATING: 4.5 out of 5.
The Expanse: A Telltale Series is now available for PC, PlayStation 4 and 5, and Xbox Series S/X, and we received a free review copy of the game for Xbox.