Episode 3 of The Expanse: A Telltale Series is here and it’s packed with important choices and significant consequences. Following two solid Episodes, can this new entry continue the streak of decent quality? We take a look at all of the pros and cons present in this choice-based narrative journey. With a slow start but a strong finish, can Episode 3 prove to be what this series needs to further enhance its status? Let’s find out as we review Episode 3 of The Expanse: A Telltale Series.
Story – Choices DO Matter!
Right off the bat, this episode showcases brilliant narrative writing in terms of plot and dialogue. Not only do we get to see some consequences of past actions, but it is actually possible to lose one of your key integral crewmates in this episode. Of course, we are talking about Maya and how some players were shocked to see her not survive the episode. Her fate is dependent on your choices, but most players did not manage to keep her alive due to the prerequisite of doing all good deeds including being nice to Rayen.
Finally, we feel our choices matter as they now directly impact the story’s outcome and character’s fates. The death of Maya happened extremely quickly and was definitely something that took a lot of players by surprise. However, the steps required to keep Maya alive are a bit excessive and often left players feeling cheated out of the possibility of saving Maya.
For example, if you stop Arlen from bullying Rayen and you save his leg, Maya will still die if you haven’t found the medicine earlier. Therefore, it feels as though Telltale purposefully wanted to kill off Maya in most playthroughs, making us question the size of her role in future episodes. Additionally, we feel as though it would be interesting to further explore the significance of found items.
Gameplay – Repetitive & Bland
The gameplay loop is exactly the same as previous episodes, focusing heavily on walking around and exploring. Of course, Telltale’s games are meant to be point-and-click adventures with a heavy emphasis on dialogue and choices. However, we can’t help but want something a bit more. In The Wolf Among Us, we were solving crimes. In The Walking Dead, we were trying to escape a situation or find a solution to a problem. Yet in The Expanse, it feels as though we are just drifting through space, finding bits and pieces of narrative scattered around us.
It would help if the gameplay sequences were a bit more interesting and included some variety. We aren’t going to fault Telltale too much for this seeing as how it isn’t really their speciality. However, it would be nice to see some new, refreshing set-pieces in future episodes. There was a gameplay sequence involving some junction boxes, which was boring and really unimaginative. This is not to mention the continued theme of short episodes. While we do not think the game was rushed, some aspects of it do come across as lazily implemented and lacking creativity.
Graphics & Sound – Still Solid
Honestly, the best part of the game is still the atmosphere and sound. Not only do they capture the essence of space exploration well, they do it in a way that fits the plot well. Furthermore, the voice acting is super solid, including great performances from all of the crew mates. There’s not much to be improved in terms of sound and graphics as Telltale nailed it.
Unfortunately, sound is not enough to keep us engaged if the gameplay is repetitive and lazily implemented. Whilst movement is great, it feels as though we would be able to enjoy the soundtrack better if there was an engaging gameplay loop to go along with it. Hopefully, future episodes might add some new mechanics or gameplay sequences that would prove to be the refreshing addition that this game needs. If that happens, we can definitely now attach the great soundtrack to some fun gameplay-related memories.
A good thing to note that we previously failed to touch upon is the quality of the menu music. The main menu music and sound effects all fit extremely well with the theme of the game. It’s immersive and really well put together. The music in Telltale’s games has almost always been exceptional, especially that of The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us. We hope that this pattern of great-sounding games carries on as Telltale continues developing new and interesting narrative titles.
The Final Verdict
Despite having a lot of potential, it seems as though The Expanse is not living up to the hype. By no means does this mean it is a bad game, yet it still leaves players desiring a bit more. Whether it be longer episodes, more interesting and engaging gameplay, or better pacing, something needs to change in order for this game to reach the heights that it can. Kudos to Telltale for crafting a brilliantly written story that keeps players on their toes even if they have no prior background regarding The Expanse universe.
Three episodes remain, one of which is a bonus episode by the name of ‘Archangel’. We hope that things pick up from here and follow a similar pattern to Episode 1. The first entry to this series proved to be a hopeful start to a possibly great season. Unfortunately, it seems as though a bit more is needed in order to fully appreciate this game completely. The story, music, voice acting and ambience are all really pristine, it’s just the gameplay and a few tweaks to how choices work that need a bit of an overhaul.
In terms of cast, the characters are likeable, all possessing their own unique traits and characteristics. While this episode failed to let players talk to their crew mates on the ship in-depth, we don’t doubt that players will soon be able to in future episodes. In fact, Episode 2 did a fair job of letting us interact with our crew.
Telltale’s The Expanse Episode 3 was reviewed on PC.