Telltale Games is back with The Expanse – a new episodic series that serves as a prequel to the space-based Amazon Prime TV show. So far, we’ve gone hands-on with Episode 1 on PC, so do bear in mind that these impressions are based on that version. What we can say though is that our impressions are largely positive, and we’re very much looking forward to getting stuck into the rest of the season.
This time out, Telltale has worked with Life is Strange: Two Colors developer Deck Nine to bring The Expanse to the world of interactive storytelling, and the partnership is noticeable straight away. This version of Telltale has delivered a game that offers more exploration and gameplay freedom while still putting a huge focus on game-changing story decisions. After just under an hour of playtime we’ve already made a life-or-death choice, so there’s plenty of old school Telltale DNA in here already.
As for the basic setup of The Expanse, you’ll be spending most of your time aboard spaceship ‘Artemis’ as your crew explores “the open expanse of space”, dealing with everything that such an adventure entails along the way. There’s lots to deal with as well – Episode 1 felt largely like a murder mystery, so this isn’t a rosy trip into outer space by any means.
You aren’t restricted to just interior ship exploration though; The Expanse is quick to send you out into space as you control your thrusters in open, zero-g areas. It all plays pretty nicely and we didn’t have any issues when the game took away the ruleset that gravity brings – as can often be the case when you’re floating about with little direction. If you do get lost in The Expanse, there’s a handy waypoint button that quickly lets you find your way.
Hopping back to that gameplay freedom point, The Expanse plays from a third-person perspective and definitely feels more like a ‘traditional game’ than the point-and-click-lite style that Telltale was once known for. Make no mistake though, story is the real focus and most of the big gameplay moments still come down to quick-time-event combat and dialogue-choice story decisions, at least in the first episode. We’ve made some huge decisions already, and it hasn’t taken us long to get hooked on the story – we already want to know what happens next!
We don’t really want to spoil anything more about where The Expanse is heading, but we’re already rooting for main character Carmina Drummer, who’s been tasked with making some heavy spacefaring decisions during Episode 1 alone. She has us onside anyway — as is evidenced by some of the choices we’ve made — and to be honest we’re already excited about what’s in store for Drummer during Episode 2 on August 10th.
So, is The Expanse worth picking up? Well, based on Episode 1 we think so, especially if you like the sound of traditional Telltale meeting a third-person adventure with plenty of optional exploration mixed in. We can’t speak for the whole season right now of course, we’ll have to wait for it all to wrap up in September for that, but Episode 1 has us invested and we’re more than ready to find out what happens next.