The story continues for The Expanse: A Telltale Series as we dig into the fourth episode of the game to see how things are starting to flow more. Especially after where we were left by Deck Nine in the last episode. This is usually where things start to go crazy in these kinds of games, so that is what we are getting ready for. That and to see how this will build further into everything for The Expanse in general. Here we go with our next review into it all to see if it will be worth the time and effort for everyone to get in on this. Hold your breath for all of the darkness that is about to come at us.
After the events of the previous entry into The Expanse, Dummer is found marooned in space and holding on to every ounce of oxygen out there. However, that is running low and there is no sign of rescue on the way. Will Drummer be able to make it out of here alive or will the mind break along the way and cause all manner of harm to it all? Let us fight to stay alive and possibly get revenge on those who have wronged us in this universe.
Right out of the gate, this is the episode of The Expanse: A Telltale Series where it feels like you need to have done all manner of homework on the IP to fully enjoy. A good portion of the game and story revolves around Drummer coming to terms with mortality but all in a way where there is an argument from Drummer's past. A character that has not shown up in this game at all yet we are supposed to know what is going on. It might seem like a nitpick from someone who is heading in with no knowledge of The Expanse before this game, but up to now, it feels like the team was doing a good job at filling things in for the story to the new players out there. This takes a hard shift and in a way, it feels like it could be deep and telling for Drummer. It all fell flat for me, though, as I had no impact since it brought up things I had no clue about. Sure, that could be on me for playing a game based around an IP that I knew little about, but until this episode, it felt like it was for everyone and not the hardcore fans only.
The next major issue I found with this episode for The Expanse, we seem to have fallen right into the basic walking simulation of it all instead of what was built up before. It is fitting for the story, I do want to say that, but it is a hard deviation from the gameplay we have had over the last three episodes. It is jarring and slows things down even more when trying to explore in this episode, only to find out that there is next to no reason to do that. This, again, would not be a huge issue in the mix if The Expanse had not already primed us that the gameplay was going to be open from the start. It is not a game-breaker at all, but it was so jarring that it was off-putting for me. Hence why I did not like this at all. Especially since this all felt like it was the team throwing anything at a board and seeing what would stick. This did not stick for me at all and made me just want to get things over instead of enjoying anything.
Even though it was brought to get through for the story of The Expanse, the entire section where we are helping Drummer survive is done so well and leans into the horror of the situation so well. The way the hallucinations and other elements going on to put us into Drummer's headspace was amazing. It was terrifying but not in the way that would place this in a horror title out there. Even though I did not know what was going on in the story between the characters, I could understand the mental start that Drummer was in. All of this was done through environmental and visual storytelling in The Expanse: A Telltale Series and not through dialog. It was a little jarring at first, but instantly clicked for me when moving about the station. It had to be one of my favorite portions of the entire episode even if it did not hit for me in the character interactions out there. You can see that in the video below better than my words can fully express here, truly.
I do have to add in here, one of my main gripes about The Expanse up to now did seem to vanish at this point in the story. That was the fact that it felt like there was no real direction when it came to finding things and exploring. Sure, this was partially due to the railroad nature of the story in this one, but there were still a few instances to explore and find things. All of this felt like an accomplishment in the gameplay of it all and not as if we missed something along the way because it was hidden too far out by the developers. There were little hidden things still, but they felt as if they were properly placed and paced out in the mix. A nice little balance to give us something else to do in the simple float or walk out there, but still something that felt like it added to the gameplay more than anything. Maybe this was due to me not having much of an investment in the story in the episode and would take the distraction, but it felt like the right balance in the mix to me.
So, this is definitely the episode of The Expanse: A Telltale Series that will make or break for many. If you have been invested in the story from the start of the IP, it feels like this will be one of those mind-breaking moments. For those who wanted to dip a toe in and see if the IP was going to be worth your time, this is where it feels like the game is telling you to do a lot of homework beforehand. Not a terrible thing, except that it is never laid out that you have to be fully up on all of the lore to fully appreciate it. The use of lighting and shifting elements in the visuals was a nice touch to place us in the headspace of the character. There was definitely a better direction for what we needed to do here, but this all feels like a service for the hardcore fans of The Expanse than it did in the last three episodes. Take note of that if you have not already bought in for the whole season.
I give The Expanse: A Telltale Series 9 Hallucinations on the Hallucination scale.
The Expanse: A Telltale Series — Hades Plays Episode Four [PS5 Gameplay]
The Expanse: A Telltale Series was developed by Deck Nine and published by Telltale Games for the PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC on July 27th, 2023. A PlayStation copy of the game was provided by the publisher for reviewing purposes.