The Expanse: A Telltale Collection is a constructive step in the proper path for the newly reconsecrated developer, capturing the essence of what made its preliminary efforts so profitable within the first place. It is sharp, well-paced interactive media that delivers on the anticipated premise, telling an authentic story set in a longtime universe in that signature Telltale type.
Partnering with Deck 9 (Life Is Unusual: True Colors) for this five-episode sci-fi adaptation, the story strikes at a gradual clip, and it is stuffed with the sort of twists, gut-wrenching choices, and instant regrets you’d count on. In comparison with the comparatively stiff The Strolling Lifeless: The Last Season, the shift to a full third-person perspective appears like an enormous improve, and the in depth and detailed environments actually really feel like (and are) areas price exploring.
When you do not essentially have to be a fan of the unique James S.A. Corey novel series or the favored Syfy TV adaptation, it might definitely improve the expertise. Telltale’s recreation is a prequel that includes a self-contained origin story for Camina Drummer, portrayed by Cara Gee in each the TV and Telltale iterations. Within the latter’s earlier timeline, Drummer is XO aboard the starship Artemis, second-in-command of a crew that makes a dwelling scavenging wrecked ships within the uncharted edges of The Belt, the expansive asteroid area between Mars and Jupiter.
This necessitates zero-g exploration within the arduous vacuum of area, the place a stunning quantity of the participant’s time will likely be spent, together with the anticipated interactive cutscenes. These sections really feel good to poke round in, listening to the banter between the assorted oddballs who make up The Artemis’ complement. There’s some gentle puzzle-solving available, however nothing that bogs down the expertise. Interacting with objects rewards gamers with expanded lore via recordings, propaganda, and in-universe texts.
A lot of the stress in The Expanse comes from the financial disparity within the yr 2347, exacerbated by humanity’s first tentative steps to colonise our native Photo voltaic System. Inners, or “Inyas” (residents of the Inside System settlements of Earth, Mars and Luna), dominate space-born residents of The Belt, or “Belters”, an oppressed class and supply of low-cost labour for the various and harmful duties concerned in area journey.
It is a narratively wealthy universe, and the state of affairs aboard The Artemis is explosive proper from the outset, with issues rapidly turning catastrophic from the primary episode alone. The Expanse is filled with vibrant Belter slang, and the arduous sci-fi nature of the setting combines to make the topic universe a plausible one. Throughout the 5 hours it will take to see Drummer’s grim origin story via to the bitter finish, she’ll face bloody mutiny, ruthless pirates, and the big risks of interstellar journey, from the profound to the mundane.
A Telltale title lives and dies by its forged of characters, and the crew of the Artemis are an eclectic bunch. As the bulk will stay or die relying on the actions taken throughout particular segments, these moments really feel appropriately impactful, and a few real gut-punches await the unwary. A lot has been written concerning the phantasm of alternative in Telltale’s earlier outings, and that adage stays true right here; occasions may be modified, even altered radically, however basically attain the identical anticipated endpoint, however that by no means stops the marquee moments themselves from being impactful.
The lazy, alcoholic captain of The Artemis, Cox, drives the preliminary battle aboard the ship, capably piloted by the cantankerous Khan Tran, whose gruff exterior belies a coronary heart of gold. Maya Costilla is a former Martian marine who revels within the freedom discovered exterior the aggressive tradition of her dwelling world, which she often nonetheless will get homesick for. Virgil is the ship’s medic; mild-mannered and well-educated, his origin is comparatively obscure. Lastly, twin brothers and the one Belters onboard (apart from Drummer), Arlen and Rayel, are likeable goofballs who harbour some simmering societal resentments.
What was alleged to be a easy job turns into more and more complicated as an opportunity discovery attracts overwhelming consideration from varied factions with competing pursuits. We performed via the complete factor in two breezy sittings, helped significantly by the upgraded animations and character manoeuvrability, which is one thing the collection has been screaming out for. The presentation is persistently wonderful, a lot in order that we’re cautiously getting our hopes up for Telltale’s subsequent, The Wolf Amongst Us 2.
The place The Expanse falls a bit flat, then, is extra via format than fault. Telltale’s The Strolling Lifeless was launched in 2012, and even again then, quick-time occasions and binary dialogue selections had been beginning to wear down their welcome (Heavy Rain was launched in 2010, for context). Whereas a enjoyable method to expertise a narrative, there simply is not a lot right here, mechanically, you have not seen earlier than. The added exploratory parts are welcome, however the collection’ attraction has at all times been its interactive cutscenes and the phantasm of influencing grander occasions. It is smart for the setting, however we hope an growth of the narrative facet of those video games will likely be explored sooner or later.
Some genuinely gripping sections, starting from up-close-and-personal physique horror to ship-to-ship fight sequences, put strain on the participant and drive a response. The results are predictably dramatic within the second however finally boil all the way down to pushing well-signalled buttons when prompted inside a beneficiant response window. Your mileage might fluctuate relating to that gameplay type, however for followers of The Expanse or the glory days of Telltale Video games, buckle in for a hell of a journey.
The Expanse: A Telltale Collection retains what made the sooner video games so successful, for higher or worse, and smuggles in upgraded visuals and a good, well-told story. It is nonetheless basic Telltale at its core, however when you weren’t a fan of these earlier video games, this daring new path is not prone to make you a believer.