The Expanse from Telltale is a suspenseful, and often claustrophobic, experience. There will be creaking ships full of unfortunate crews that may leave players jumping at shadows. The game’s events take place before the show, which makes it easier for players who haven’t watched the show. That also makes the anxiety of waiting for a monster to pop out that much worse. But here the monsters are all too human.
Players will follow Camina Drummer, voiced by Cara Gee who is reprising her role. What starts as a search for a big score leads to betrayals, fighting pirates, and hope. Adding to the already unsettled feeling is the antigravity movement that literally has players spinning in circles. It takes some getting used to, but floating through the wreckage to scavenge items makes Camina feel so small. At the same time, needing to reorient yourself through tight hallways as a mysterious voice whispers around you, might make you turn all the lights on.
The only thing to drain all tension was surprisingly the pirate drones. They were fairly easy to avoid since their path was simple to figure out, even with multiple drones in one room. It slowed the pacing to a crawl. However, players are rewarded with the first fight against Toussaint’s ship and a desperate getaway that ends with The Artemis hiding in a ship graveyard. It makes getting through the lasers at least once worthwhile.
Scavenging in this game can also feel slow paced, as it’s not immediately clear where players can or can’t go. Anyone who takes the time to find special items though, will find that it opens up conversations and affects their ending. Some characters will reveal their backstories without items but, depending on the player, they might want to take some extra time. Exploring the ships also reveals the problems and aspirations of crew members that make their outcomes that more tragic.
The Expanse also had interesting characters that players could, mostly, root for. They are flawed and trying to do better despite serious mistakes they’ve made in the past. Without knowing every faction within The Belt, players could still understand Camina’s frustrations. And her desire to fight for it despite a bounty on her head. Camina’s relationship with Maya is a big focus in that regard. Maya acts as a more optimistic outlook versus Camina’s more pragmatic viewpoint. Other side characters don’t get a lot of screen time since most of the gameplay takes place on other ships. Virgil, the medic, especially feels sidelined despite his backstory containing something that appears to be a major deal in the Expanse universe.
There are only five episodes though, so it’s understandable if every character doesn’t get equal attention. Most of the crew are so earnest that it doesn’t feel like a chore to help them. When they’re in danger, it really feels like no one may come out of this. The Expanse does well with the time it has. Players can enjoy the game’s story without being overwhelmed by even more information. Though some context will probably give the reveals more impact. All in all, The Expanse is a good entry to both the show’s world and Telltale Games.