The Expanse: A Telltale Series - Episode 1 Xbox Series X Review

The Expanse: A Telltale Series - Episode 1 demonstrates some potentially interesting gameplay mechanisms and a very absorbing narrative.

By Rayan, Posted 07 Aug 2023

If there is one thing that the best Telltale Games are known for, it is conveying a compelling story regardless of the decisions the players will make while still finding methods to supplement the story as a result of those very same decisions. The Expanse is the definitive example of a fictional universe characterized by tense moral dilemmas, as it tells the story of humanity's exploration of the solar system, featuring the belters who live in the darkness of mid-space and who are at odds with the Earthers in a perpetual back-and-forth. This conflict reflects a narrative tradition built on the basic principles of tradition and can be thought of as a space-based groundbreaking conflict. Because of this, both the books and the TV series had a rich setting in which to tell their stories, and those tales introduced us to some amazing individuals. Not the least of which is Camina Drummer, and the prequel to the TV series produced by Telltale delves into a portion of her history.

The Expanse: A Telltale Series - Episode 1|Xbox Series X, Review, Gameplay, Screenshots, Female Protagonist, Camina Drummer, NoobFeed

You might get the impression that everybody is in outer space because there isn't much that can be seen, heard, or found there. However, as the books, the shows, and this Telltale Series will demonstrate, even in the midst of nothing, someone will get into trouble. Seeing as how The Expanse: A Telltale Series - Episode 1 starts, the Expanse opens with a flash forward to the crew, it's safe to assume that everything is swimmingly as they are about to dump their captain through the airlock. And then, right when you're about to pull the trigger and select one of two airlocks, the game abruptly jumps ahead eight hours to when the crew discovers a damaged ship in the orbit of IO, boards it to find out what happened, and steals everything on board.

This is a great approach to kick off a game since you can immediately begin developing the character's backstory, and the promise of an exciting cliffhanger at the end of The Expanse: A Telltale Series - Episode 1—dropping a character into space—is already dangling in the air. In addition, there is no denying the fact that you are playing episodes of a game here. It is based on the episodic framework of the previous Telltale Games. However, this time, there is a significantly shorter gap between each episode—approximately two weeks between each Episode 1—than in previous games. This review is for Episode 1, which is shorter than the others, clocking in at a little over 45 minutes each. Even if they're brief, scheduled releases are appealing because they give the fiction a chance to settle. If you don't find that appealing, you may always just jump right in when everything is finished, which is something that can be done in a lot less time.

The events of the story begin when we become a part of the crew of the Artemis, which is led by none other than Camina Drummer, who was magnificently portrayed by Kara Gee, who reprised her role from the TV series. The objective of the mission is to salvage as many essential supplies as possible from the wrecked ship Urshanabi that belonged to the UNN. However, it should come as no surprise that nothing ever goes according to plan in the universe of The Expanse. The game's primary focus is on ensuring your own survival, and right from the get-go, you'll be put in a position to make some of the game's trademark difficult choices. Because of the friction between the Belters, Earthers, and Martians, an additional layer of complexity is added, which gives the impression that each decision bears a tremendous amount of weight.

The Expanse: A Telltale Series - Episode 1|Xbox Series X, Review, Gameplay, Screenshots, Female Protagonist, Camina Drummer, NoobFeed

The game teaches players about the wonder of mag boots and provides an experience that is an incredible burst of fun. With the ability to scale walls and move fluidly in weightlessness, the game's setting genuinely springs to life at these times, encouraging players to defy gravity at every turn. However, traveling in zero-g without the Mag boots' assistance might be a pain because of the sluggish pace and lack of acceleration, especially when attempting to retrace your steps. In addition, it is difficult not to long for the possibility to advance Drummer in the game by pushing against surfaces, just as one would do in real life. This would be a realistic simulation. A feature of this kind would have added a sense of realism as well as a sense of urgency to the exploration. Despite this, the beautiful sights and hard sci-fi art style produce moments that are hypnotizing, particularly when the player is drifting in space amidst various pieces of wreckage.

Visually, The Expanse: A Telltale Series is a significant jump from what Telltale Games have done in their previous games. It's much closer to the high-detail, full-resolution animations and games that we're used to seeing, as opposed to the cartoony, off-kilter portrayal we've seen in previous Telltale Games. It does not mean that the events, parts, or distinctive appearances of the characters are not enhanced in any way. It just seems like the proportions are better, and they are definitely simpler to read compared to the games that came before. Even though the animation is not yet fully developed in the usual gameplay sections, it performs quite well in the action and narrative scenes.

It is roughly on par with what one would anticipate. The game suffers a little from a flaw I didn't anticipate: when investigating abandoned ships, and the game is much more brightly lit than the program ever was. Shadows may be depended upon to directly play off the brightness of anyone visible, and they use this to their advantage by creating an atmosphere of suspense rather than a sense of safety. Even in the dimly illuminated areas of the ship that the crew investigates, The Expanse is well-lit, removing some of the surprise element from experience. I recommend you go into the settings and turn the gamma down quite a bit when playing. This will help the atmosphere look less like it was taken from a television show from the 1980s and more like it was taken from The Expanse.

The Expanse: A Telltale Series - Episode 1|Xbox Series X, Review, Gameplay, Screenshots, Female Protagonist, Camina Drummer, Graffiti

Despite this, I find that the appearance of the game is quite appealing, and I believe that the developers successfully depicted the fictional world in the ways that they intended to do so. Additionally, in The Expanse: A Telltale Series - Episode 1 of the series, the faster pacing, the improved mobility system, and the sleeker design all helped the few decisions you had to make come more quickly. And appear like they mean more with a couple of very significant ones that leave permanent scars on both you and the people around you, regardless of what else may occur in the future. Telltale's signature "we'll remember this" style is in effect for most decisions, but there are a few that really get in your mind, where one option feels like it will come back at you hard while the other option feels like it will come hard on you immediately. You can't deny that the gameplay is narrative, with pieces of the tale playing out between Quick Time events no matter what the engine looks like.

And then having to live with the decisions you made as you continue to investigate and piece together the narrative. When you take Drummer on journeys into the bowels of the abandoned craft, you learn more and more about what occurred before you arrived, and you also learn a little bit more about each of the characters that you are investigating. Despite the fact that it was shorter, I was shocked by the fact that I truly read everything I could find, explored a bit, and talked to the personnel. I was surprised by how much I was able to learn, especially considering how brief the first episode was, and this proved to be beneficial when it came time to make some decisions because it provided me with just the right amount of background knowledge to convince me that I was making the right option while simultaneously making me question whether or not I should try something else. And that, in a nutshell, sums up the ideal approach in which a Telltale Game or any of these other narratives created with QuickTime sort of unfold.

The Expanse: A Telltale Series - Episode 1 elegantly sets the tone, soaking us in a character-driven story full of difficult decisions. The ruthless choices you encounter are going to keep you wondering about the consequences, and it's clear that your choices might impact future Episode 1. When it comes to the gameplay, exploring does feel like it has certain limitations. Even though the landscape does a fantastic job of setting the stage, the overall exploration doesn't have very much depth to it. Collectibles, too, have a feeling of being slightly lacking in comparison to prior Telltale titles, and they lack the unique touch they once possessed. Despite this, zero-gravity exploration is an outstanding component that is deserving of appreciation. It brings a new and interesting element to the gameplay, and I have high hopes that Deck Nine and Telltale will expand on this idea in a subsequent episode of Episode 1.

The Expanse: A Telltale Series - Episode 1|Xbox Series X, Review, Gameplay, Screenshots, Female Protagonist, Camina Drummer

The voice acting in The Telltale Games has generally been excellent, and it will be even more important now that you're incorporating characters from The Expanse. Fortunately, they were able to secure the services of Kara Gee, who does awesome work as Camina Drummer, providing numerous small voiceovers with a slight slant to that accent we're all familiar with and the occasionally dropped slang that the fiction is known for. She does a great job in her role, as does the captain and a couple of other characters who play off stereotypes we've seen before in the show and just in space shows in general but who still have their own place in the world the game establishes from the get-go. One major flaw, though, is that the game's ship pilot is played by a character who seems much too young for the role.

It's challenging to perform voices that span decades apart, especially when our voices change so much as we age. It is impossible not to get the impression that the person speaking to you is acting as though they are an elderly lady. Fortunately, Sound and Music are not plagued by the same problem. When it comes to the sound, this is good. It is precisely what you expect, from the minor creeks and moans of the ships, the layer of machinery in that blanket of electronics onboard boats that are continually playing, to the sound of cannons going off in the black space that reminds you of the show. It is executed quite well. It is somewhat muted, but the majority of the time, that is because a significant portion of the story is told through the narrative that is spoken.

The music is great, taking cues from the spirit of the original show with dramatic moments of theme music during space battles and more tense ambient pieces in the background when exploring. It is consistently good, and even if it does not get the same opportunities to stand out as it did in the show, it fits in really well. The Expanse: A Telltale Series - Episode 1 could have benefited from being at least 15 to 20 minutes longer. As you play the game and roll from the beginning to the middle section to the end, you realize that there could be a little more to the narratives to push the story a bit further. When you watch a TV show on a streaming service without advertisements, you'll notice that many of the plot points don't resolve as they should because of interruptions. And that is exactly what we get with the Episode 1. There are some events that take place at the conclusion that, in my opinion, could have been rearranged a little bit, with some of those happening in Episode 1 rather than Episode 2, and vice versa.


Although there were a few issues in The Expanse: A Telltale Series - Episode 1, I found most of the characters well-designed. I enjoyed getting a glimpse of the world and this character's activities before the show started; it provided some depth to the character's backstory. However, this only applies to the first episode. It'll be exciting to see how these incidents and the decisions that the character makes not only impact the rest of these episodes but also how they try to work it into the fiction itself. It undoubtedly does have the feel of a jumping-off point from the series, and if you like this character, well, there's more of this character coming, so that's always fun to see. And if this turns out to be successful, perhaps there will be further prequels focusing on other characters from the show.

The Expanse: A Telltale Series - Episode 1 demonstrates some potentially interesting gameplay mechanisms, notably with the mag boots and the zero-g movement. There may be a need for minor tweaks, but the overall foundation appears strong enough for a satisfying experience when the full game is finally released. Even though it's still very early but The Expanse: A Telltale Series has much potential but doesn't quite live up to the hype of making an explosive comeback like some fans may have hoped. While the overall concept is intriguing, the gameplay itself falls just short of captivating players. Then again, the narrative is very absorbing, and the new angle provided by introducing Mag boots and zero-g exploration is quite interesting. Go for it if you're a huge fan of The Expanse universe or old Telltale Games such as The Wolf Among UsBatman: The Telltale Series or The Walking Dead, but don't get your hopes up for a revolutionary new gaming experience.

Azfar Rayan (@AzfarRayan)
Editor, NoobFeed

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General Information

Platform(s): PC, PS5, XBSX, PS4, Xbox One
Publisher(s): Telltale Games
Developer(s): Telltale Games, Deck Nine
Genres: Action, Adventure
Themes: Graphic Adventure
Release Date: 2023-07-27

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