When it comes to science fiction properties, The Expanse is among the more overlooked and underappreciated. It began as a series of James S.A. Corey novels and went on to find a larger audience with a TV show that premiered on Syfy and Prime Video. Amazon has since wrapped up The Expanse's television adventures with 2021's sixth and final season, but there are more stories to tell in this universe. One of them will come from the teams at Telltale Games and Deck Nine Games, who are preparing to release The Expanse: A Telltale Series. Shacknews recently had the opportunity to play through the entirety of the first episode and get immersed in a new plot filled with mystery and subterfuge.
Fans of the Syfy/Amazon series are familiar with Camina Drummer, who they first met in Season 2, helping the Rocinante's crew with the raid on Tycho Station. With the character played once again by actress Cara Gee, The Expanse: The Telltale Series is going back a little farther in time and exploring Drummer's early days. Players will experience one of Drummer's early missions as the XO of the Artemis, where she serves alongside an entirely new crew of characters.
As players meet new faces like the ship navigator and former pirate Khan, the medic Virgil, the twins Arlen and Rayen, and the Martian officer Maya, it quickly becomes clear what their role in The Expanse's story is. All of these characters have their own motivations, their distinct histories, and unique personalities. However, for the purposes of this being a Telltale game, they mainly feed the gameplay loop.
Drummer will interact with each of her crewmates in her own way, mainly through dialogue exchanges. This is where it should be noted that Telltale's typical style has undergone some major changes. The classic Telltale formula usually consists of three or four dialogue choices and a silence option. However, The Expanse forgoes that in favor of entirely binary choices. Players can choose Option A or Option B and that's it. Even with fewer dialogue selections, consequences still weigh heavy. Characters will remember Drummer's actions, which will almost certainly play a part in later episodes. Plus, there are those critical story choices that can affect the story in a big way. One choice near the end of Chapter 1, specifically, will likely send entire sections of players in different story directions.
There's one other thing that a new crew opens up to Telltale and Deck Nine. New faces can be expendable. Telltale has hinted that nearly every character can face their demise at different points in the story. Aside from the aforementioned turning point in the story, there was another instance where Drummer had to make a crucial choice when a crew member finds themselves in peril. While my choice saved their life, going a different way could have left them to their doom.
There appears to be plenty in The Expanse: A Telltale Series to appeal to long-time series fans. As a newcomer to the franchise, I didn't feel overwhelmed with anything presented to me and could still make character connections with Drummer and the rest of her crew. There's some strong dialogue at work, and the underlying mystery that takes players through zero-gravity environments is compelling enough to make me want to return for more. It'll be interesting to see where Drummer's story goes next, and players won't have to wait too much longer to find out. The Expanse: A Telltale Series will release episodically every two weeks. The first of five chapters will come to PC (exclusively through the Epic Games Store), PlayStation, and Xbox on July 27.
This preview is based on a pre-release PC build played on-site in Los Angeles, CA. Drinks and snacks were provided by the publisher.