Reviewed On: PlayStation 5
Also Available On: PC, PS4, Xbox Series X/S, and Xbox One
Price: $39.99 USD – Standard Edition or $44.99 USD – Deluxe Edition ~ (Both are Digital Only)
Developer: Deck Nine Games
Initial Episode 1 Release Date: July 27, 2023
Please Note: A review code was provided by Telltale but does not influence opinions in this review.
Normally I will review games as a whole and not just pieces of a game, but this time is a bit different. Since the game is episodic, I only have played Episode 1 in The Expanse so far because the other episodes are not out yet and will release in bi-weekly fashion. So far though, I am hooked on the game and I cannot wait for the later episodes to unlock throughout August and September. Episode 1 was only about a hour and a half long, but it sets the stage for the style of gameplay, mood, music, art style, and it sets up the story in a nice way. My only big gripe currently was it is just a tad shorter than I hoped it would be.
The story of the game is one that, according to the game’s website, follows the show (which is available to stream on Amazon Prime). The game is set before the first season of the show so you don’t have to watch the show to understand the plot in the game. You definitely do not need to watch the show to get a full story that is specific to the game, but if you do watch the show, it might give even more insight to some of the things that could be going on. I am grateful that watching the show isn’t something that is required since I haven’t before but after the game is all done, I might check it out. In terms of the story that is played out in the first episode, the short of it is the leader Cox, and captain Drummer, have a crew that goes on expeditions to find the next big haul of valuables. It appears as though the one in the first chapter, the UNN wreck, is going to be their final one… but is that actually going to happen? Well, I think you either need to play or watch the game to find out. The story and characters that are around you will change depending on the choices you make during the game. That is traditional Telltale and I think it makes you have to think about your actions of whether you keep individuals alive or let them perish.
The gameplay for this game is much like those of past Telltale games that you have played or seen before. There are moments where you have to do Quick Time Events (QTEs), solve simplistic puzzles, choose different dialogue/story options, find collectibles, and walk/fly around the areas that are explorable. Personally, I haven’t played a lot of Telltale games in the past, but I have seen a bunch of them being played and it feels like this one is pretty similar so far in terms of gameplay. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing though since it is supposed to be a Telltale game, but I hope that later episodes have a bit more variety when it comes to gameplay since it is the big return of Telltale.
What about the music, audio, and voice acting within the game? Well, I can say that all three of these things are well crafted. The music in the game is nice throughout, whether it be the title screen music, or the music and audio within the adventure. The music sets a fairly eerie mood or happy mood throughout most of the episode but there are a couple of other moods the audio tries to strike. The audio design of footsteps, picking up collectibles, the audio logs, and other objects in the world are all great as well. Lastly, the voice acting in the game is superb so far, including Drummer and Cox being a couple of my favorites in terms of voices. I have a feeling that new characters which are coming later, assuming there will be more characters, will also have the same quality that the first set of characters have for voice acting.
The art, visuals, and performance in the game were all solid. It definitely has a nice artistic style and it looks beautiful both in motion and also while you are stationary. The characters all have great animations but some of the facial expressions in non-cutscene spots are not the strongest highlight in my opinion. The visuals in the game were nice a crisp and always had clarity to each object, walkable path, and person. The performance in the game was as solid as a rock when I played. There were no game crashes, bugs, or graphical glitches that made any impact to playing. The frame rate was also very solid as a whole without any big issues. The game ran, looked, and sounded great throughout.
To wrap up my thoughts on episode one, and the game as a whole, I just have to say so far I am excited to keep exploring more of the game when new episodes launch. I hope that future episodes are longer than one and a half hours each since it would mean the game only has about 7.5 hours of gameplay for one run. I am not sure if that is a good value unless you are a true Telltale fan or want to play the game more than one time. The story, music, art, performance, and gameplay are all solid, I just wish it was a bit longer than it was. More episodes are indeed coming and I am definitely excited for them to show up, I just hope they aren’t going to be overshadowed by being released bi-weekly. As of right now, I personally do not see the $39.99 price tag being worth it unless you are a big Telltale fan or a fan of this style of game; but that may, and hopefully will change when more episodes unlock and I play through them. I personally have enjoyed the game as of this point, I just really wish there was more creativity with some of the gameplay and longer episodes.
Review Score Episode 1: 7.5/10