When Telltale was shut down in 2018, it left a hole in the games industry. Its games had not been the same blockbusters as when The Walking Dead Season One and The Wolf Among Us came out, but they had found their niche. Now that the name Telltale is back, although with a completely new team, some would think that its new projects would attempt to recapture that nostalgic magic that put them on the map. Unfortunately, the first episode of The Expanse: A Telltale Series is a largely forgettable first step. Newcomers will largely be left behind trying to understand what is happening and the characters are not that enjoyable to make you want to keep going on anyway.
Meet the Artemis crew
In The Expanse: A Telltale Series, you play as a woman named Camina Drummer, a character from the show. This is a prequel story showing her journey before the events of the show, during which she is part of a scavenger crew on a ship called the Artemis. Here in the first episode, the crew finds a destroyed ship in space. This ship is owned by an Earth government, and your captain thinks there is something very valuable onboard that will make you all rich. Outside of preparing your crew at the beginning, the story largely revolves around your character speculating about what happened on that ship after you find out it was attacked by pirates.
Even after finishing the first episode, I can’t say there is a single character here I like. You have the pilot of the Artemis who is just a straight-up miserable old lady, a pair of twins that are always yelling at each other, and a captain that lies to and is willing to sacrifice his crewmates for the chance to get more money. There are a couple more characters, but they play a very minimal role in the first episode here.
Big decision moments make their return. Since only the first episode is out, I can’t say whether these choices have big payoffs, but I would wager to guess there will be some that act similarly to past Telltale games. They might change certain aspects of scenes, but there is never a wrong choice in these games. You might just talk to a different character at some points. I found the few big choices in this episode easy to make, but it is hard to say how impactful they are at this point. Things like cutting off a character’s leg or losing all the items you salvaged were meant to be harder hitting choices, but given that I have no feelings for these characters, I chose to say goodbye to that leg. My Drummer is a total hardass worker. She gives me those vibes, so I kept making choices that were more beneficial to her as opposed to the other crew members.
Don’t stop to smell the space roses
My time with the first episode in The Expanse: A Telltale Series ended a lot quicker than I thought it would. I would guess it took me only an hour to complete, even with the time spent searching for collectibles. After the introduction portion, you spend most of your time floating around a destroyed ship scanning and picking up items. While the story is highly boring in this part of the game, I did enjoy the freedom I had to explore the wreckage. You can jetboost yourself around at will and walk up walls. There isn’t much to see, but I appreciated the different approach to the environment here. If future episodes include more interesting exploration environments, I would be fine with seeing what they have to offer.
If you are a fan of The Expanse show, I am sure there are plenty of references The Expanse: A Telltale Series Episode 1 uses that you would enjoy. That said, this return for Telltale does nothing to capture anyone who has never heard of the source material before. On its own, it’s not a terrible time, but it doesn’t do anything to come anywhere close to the highs of games like The Walking Dead, Wolf Among Us, Batman, or Tales From the Borderlands. Unless you have a history with this franchise, I suggest skipping out on this until you give the show a try to see if you like it.
The Expanse: A Telltale Series Episode 1 was reviewed on Xbox Series X with a code provided Telltale Games. It is available now on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and PC.
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- Good exploration in zero gravity sections
- Easy choices that don’t foreshadow any meaningful payoffs
- Very dislikable characters
- Poor onboarding for newcomers