The Expanse: A Telltale Series – Episode 4 Review: Filler but With a Killer End (PC)

The penultimate episode of Telltale's The Expanse is here and so is the unfortunate illusion of choice. This review will cover Episode 4 of The Expanse: A Telltale Series, dissecting its gameplay, plot, music and overall impact. Ever since Episode 1, it felt as though each episode released was a bit of a downgrade from its predecessor, does Episode 4 fall under the same category?

The Expanse: A Telltale Series – Episode 4 Review: Filler But With A Killer End This is a review of Telltale’s The Expanse Episode 4 as it finally arrived but unfortunately, comes bearing flaws. We’ve gone ahead and written up this review to analyze and dissect the gameplay, plot and more, and see just exactly what went wrong. Of course, there are some redeeming factors such as the ambience, cinematography, and music. However, for many reasons, this episode fell short. Prior to this release, we tried giving the other episodes the benefit of the doubt. Yet, it’s evident that Episode 1 remains the best episode until now, with all following releases feeling like a downgrade in quality.

Telltale’s The Expanse is available on PC, PS5 and Xbox for $18.59.

The Expanse: A Telltale Series Story Trailer

Story – Illusion of Choice

The episode starts off straight after the events of Episode 2. Unfortunately, players are presented with a small, boring puzzle that takes all the tension away from the current situation at hand. Not only that, but the plot quickly derails and we end up wasting a lot of time in these hallucination sequences. While this could’ve been an interesting element to the story as it showcases a previously unexplored psychological aspect of Drummer’s mindset, it definitely dragged on for too long.

Screenshot from Episode 4 of Telltale's The Expanse.

Screenshot from Episode 4 of Telltale’s The Expanse.

Furthermore, it is important to note that most choices in this episode did not matter much. In fact, they came off as convincingly vital but then end up simply being fodder choices in a hallucination. Without proper major choices that impact the entire plotline’s direction, the game feels two dimensional and often times revokes our immersion. It just doesn’t feel like a Telltale title anymore, which is unfortunate because Episode 1 showed great promise. 

Another thing to note is that the episodes of this series always seem to end once the plot begins to pick up. Of course, this is done to boost excitement for the following episode but with such a short-episode length it often makes the game feel lackluster. Instead of us eagerly awaiting the new release, we’re left wanting more and not in a good way. That being said, the ending was solid and managed to efficiently set up what appears to be an action packed finale. 

Gameplay – Feels Like a Chore

Back in Episode 2, the crew finally began to have significance in the game as we were presented with an exploration loop that allowed us to interact with our crewmates. Apart from that section, we never really got another chance to properly sit down with everyone and make strong connections. Therefore, it’s really difficult for us to ultimately care about any of the characters seeing as how you don’t really spend time building interpersonal relationships.

Of course, the short episode length leads to less screen-time for said characters which as a result makes it hard to truly connect with them. That paired with the fact that the gameplay sequences are extremely dull and boring, make for an unpleasant combination. The puzzles are all too simple and aren’t challenging at all. Frankly, the most difficult thing about them is trying not to be bored out of your mind whilst completing them. 

Drummer standing in front of a hostile ship.

Drummer standing in front of a hostile ship.

As a result, the gameplay still remains bland. There’s much to be desired and whilst the atmosphere is great, there isn’t much to explore really. Overall, a game that focuses on plot can be excused in the gameplay aspect but in this case, it’s a bit much. The gameplay sequences feel like a chore interrupting the flow of the plot. Whilst it unlikely that the gameplay gets an overhaul for Episode 5, hopefully the story can pick up again which can make up for it.

Graphics & Sound – Stellar Cinematography

The most consistently solid aspect of the entire series has been the cinematography. Not only is the sound design and music great, but the camera angles are extremely creative and unique. Artistic direction was definitely handled correctly and it truly elevated the game’s status. With the game having problems with choice effectiveness and gameplay, the atmosphere, ambience, and art is a great way to recover any lost immersion.

While this episode feels like filler, everything about the sound design makes up for it a little bit. For example, the voice acting performances are still great, with each character having a unique style of acting. The crew is truly diverse, each of them possessing different personalities evident from their voices and mannerisms. It’s unfortunate that the game doesn’t let us connect deeper with the crew, but the actors definitely did their part. 

Drummer from Telltale's The Expanse.

Drummer from Telltale’s The Expanse.

In conclusion, the graphical quality is decent, offering the classic Telltale style but with a polished feel. The camera angles all feel cinematic, giving you a reason to keep playing if you lost interest. Additionally, space feels otherworldly, and there’s a sense of occupied emptiness that comes across as haunting yet intriguing. These visual elements combined with a fitting soundtrack is enough to really nail the overall ambience of The Expanse universe. 

The Final Verdict

For a game that emphasizes the importance of choice, choices do not seem to matter much. A classic Telltale forth-episode bore, the plot, choices, and gameplay just all feel messy. If the bland gameplay sequences and exploration loop wasn’t enough to ruin your immersion, the lack of urgency definitely will. The player is rarely ever on their toes except for maybe one or two times throughout each episode. For a game that is supposed to be full of tension, drama, and adventure, there isn’t much to be explored, especially in terms of your crew. 

Hopefully, Episode 5 can make up for this massive drop in quality. Telltale need to at least end the season on a high-note. We’re excited for The Wolf Among Us 2 and know that this unexceptional episode is not telling of Telltale’s quality. Not every game is going to bang, but we still support and respect Telltale. They managed to build a unique world within the universe of The Expanse. Let’s hope things pick up again in the future! Until then make sure to check out our articles for news regarding Telltale Games and more!

Telltale’s The Expanse Episode 4 was reviewed on PC.

Unfortunately, having a solid conclusion to this episode is not enough to make up for the extremely dull gameplay loop and lack of urgency present in the episode. You find yourself almost forgetting it is a Telltale title due to the illusion of choice that is everywhere. Not only do your actions feel pointless, but the plot derails and things get a bit odd in terms of plot-relevancy. Moreover, in a game where narrative is the main gameplay loop, it's hard to fully immerse yourself if the choices aren't impactful, no matter how good the atmosphere and ambience is. Hopefully, the final episode of the series can wrap it up on somewhat of a positive note.
  • Strong ending
  • Cool cinematography
  • Short episode length
  • Not enough time spent with crew
  • Hallucinations were lengthy and excessive, taking up a huge chunk of the episode
  • Gameplay falls short again - repetitive and bland
  • Not enough decision making or important choices

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