We Stared Into The Expanse: A Telltale Series For A Cool Preview
We were given the chance to play the first chapter of The Expanse: A Telltale Series in a special preview, and this is what we thought.
The Expanse: A Telltale Series has been one of those titles that we've been thinking about ever since it was announced back in late 2021. The game will mark the return of Telltale Games as a company to the industry and be their official launching title into what will be a new era for the company under new leadership. But what that will look like has remained a relative mystery for almost four years as they have been developing multiple titles behind closed doors. Well, we finally got a good look at what the future holds as we were invited to attend a special preview event in Los Angeles and experience the game for ourselves.
First off, let's talk about the fact that this is NOT your traditional Telltale Games title. At least, not from the previous generation of titles. If you're going into this thinking you know what's up, I'm telling you now you don't. While the basic concept of a choose-your-own-adventure is still here, the format in which it is presented has changed dramatically. No longer will you make a selection that angers someone to the point that they will "remember that" and then forget about it in the next scene. Gone are the middle-of-the-road choices or the "do nothing" choices to take the neutral route. Developer Deck Nine has made The Expanse into a game that will force you to make a choice, and every choice has benefits and consequences. Everything you say and do matters to some extent. If you're looking at this game thinking you can coast through the story, think again! This will actually force you to make some difficult decisions.
The game serves as a prequel to the TV series, which was based on the novel created by James S. A. Corey, as you'll relive a piece of Camina Drummer's past (played by Cara Gee, who reprises her role for the game). FAIR WARNING: We're going to discuss parts of the first chapter of The Expanse moving forward, and while we are going to be vague about a lot of it to avoid spoilers, we are going to discuss the story. So if you don't want to know more, skip to the end!
Without revealing too much of the story, you are on a ship with a salvage crew who explore much of the space between Mars and the Asteroid Belt, looking for the next big score, if you will, among the wreckage and leftovers spread throughout the expansive vacuum. You serve as the second in command of a small crew who either get along with each other or simply tolerate each other as they try to make a living out here.
The Expanse does a wonderful job of having you explore these relationships early on as we see you interacting with all of the crew, from the captain who hired you based on what your previous life and experiences were like, to the navigator who can barely stand you, to your love interest who is far more optimistic about what space has to offer than you. They have gone out of their way to make sure you understand the dynamics of the characters and what exactly you're all working toward, which in many ways is a step up from what the previous games from the company were like, where you got a lot of backstories and very little meaning behind why they would tell it to you right there and then.
The Expanse allows you to explore a lot as well. Without getting too deep into the story, you come across a ship that has been hit hard and may contain something super valuable on it. You suit up and walk around in a third-person view to not just get around your ship and the wrecked one, but you have the ability to glide through space using your suit and equipment to navigate yourself. As you explore, you discover that things aren't what they seem as some kind of crazy circumstances took place. You brush it off to find the things you were looking for, but in the process, you end up finding yourself abandoned outside the ship as it prepares to take off. Being able to have this kind of interaction in this genre of game is great, and it adds a new level of depth to the stakes at hand.
Remember how we said the game forces you to make some choices? You get served some pretty hefty choices in the first chapter. One of them is a situation where a crew member is trapped under a piece of debris; you are being barked at by the captain to salvage the items he asked for instead of trying to save the crew member. At that moment, you have to make a choice: Do you sacrifice the thing you were looking for to save them? Or, do you cut off their leg so the on-ship doctor can pick them up and reattach it later while you go for the goods? It's the first of many decisions that will put you in your place really quickly. The benefit is that you can pause the game and think about it; there's no timer on the decision. However, you HAVE to make a choice whenever you come back to it. Another moment in the game is when you confront your captain about his decisions, leading to you putting him in an airlock and deciding whether to toss him into space or throw him in the brig. One of the major things we were told by the developers is that the game gives you the option to save everyone or only save one. It's very clear that a lot of things can lead you down the latter's path.
Overall, this was an amazing experience! The Expanse: A Telltae Series feels like a sci-fi hit waiting to happen. They have done a marvelous job of marrying the intensity of the TV series with the decision-making of the genre Telltale has been known for. This is going to be one of those games that you fret over and wonder if you made the right choice, akin to titles from The Dark Pictures Anthology, where you'll constantly be asking yourself whether or not you made the right call. The first episode is due to be released on July 27th, with four additional episodes coming out every two weeks thereafter. We look forward to exploring the full game this Summer, and cannot recommend trying it out enough if you're into sci-fi and horror. Pre-orders for the Standard and Deluxe editions are currently on sale, and you can see the latest trailer right here.