This review contains spoilers for The Expanse: A Telltale Series Episode 1 – Archer’s Paradox.
Following the tumultuous events at the end of the first episode, we pick back up with Drummer and her crew about a week after retrieving the strange coordinates from the wreckage of the UNN Urshanabi. This time however, things have taken a turn for the worse as they are being pursued through space by Europa’s Bane, led by the infamous Toussaint. With no options left, Drummer makes the call to hide inside a ship graveyard, an unregistered debris field near an orbital body. As we make the risky maneuver, Artemis Pilot Khan gives us an eerie warning that, “there is no good option. Whatever you choose will be wrong, and it’s your f*cking job to choose, Captain.”
This episode picks up the action rather quickly compared to the first episode, immediately dropping into a firefight. This was a welcomed change of pace and helps to build up the stakes of danger on the belt systems. After arriving within the debris field, the game cut me loose once again to explore the wreckage to search for salvage, or more specifically, fuel pellets and reaction mass.
This section is similar to the salvage operation in the first episode, and once again shows off how much fun it is to float around in space. This does feel a bit samey to the initial episode, however instead of just one wrecked space vessel, there are three to explore this time around. Not only is the set piece massive in scope, but it’s awe-inspiring to take in. There’s a peaceful quietness in the mangled remains of the three ships, bringing with it a somber tone of those who died in the fight. These vessels each come from the different factions of the story, being those of Earth (Inners), Martian and Belter systems. Through exploring, I was able to uncover some of the mystery as to why these ships found themselves in a firefight, and gain more experience with the world of The Expanse as a whole.
The stillness didn’t last forever though, with the Europa’s Bane following us into the debris field, combing for our ship. This introduced new mechanics, with the pirates deploying scanner drones that will transmit location data to the pirate vessel, immediately firing upon anything it detects. I needed to walk on walls with my mag boots to avoid them, or even detach altogether and drift by them as they passed. This wasn’t an exceptionally difficult task, but it did help shake up the exploration loop from the previous episode, even if only slightly. The presence of the pirates also introduced a few quick time event shoot outs, where I needed to press button prompts in order to take out hostiles before they could fire on me. This is certainly standard fare for Telltale games, but I would have liked more interactivity when it comes to the action sequences.
In the wake of a final scrap with pirates before evading them once more, episode 2 finally allowed for some pay off for things that happened in the first episode. Having some free time to explore the Artemis, I was able to check in with various crew members, and turn in some side quest items as well. Seeing as I decided not to space the previous Captain Cox in the airlock, he was now in the brig, and I could talk with him as well as getting a new side quest. The laser crystal I picked up helped with an emergency surgery, and the cigar I collected unlocked a surprisingly deep conversation with Khan, showing a side of her that I might not have been able to see otherwise.
I didn’t know how much I was hungering to know more about my crew on a personal level until I got to have these smaller moments with them, and I’m happy to see how much of a personality each of them carries. Cooking a new recipe with Virgil or speaking to Rayen about his brother Arlen’s need for addiction medication, these conversations help each character feel like real people, complete with hobbies and flaws of their own. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing my crew develop over time, and seeing how their paths might aid or conflict with one another.
This episode for me was certainly stronger than the first, and I’m hopeful they will be able to carry this momentum into the following episodes as well. Not only did we get to see some minor pay off for things in the first episode, but we also get introduced first hand to the antagonists present within the systems, while still leaving plenty to discover in future episodes. The new mechanics surrounding combat are a bit light, but are still a welcomed addition to the core exploration gameplay. The stakes feel higher than before, and I’m hoping that the escalation will carry onward into the next episode as we make our journey to the mystery coordinates.
Corvo is a writer who loves to explore journalism through video games. Writing and editing reviews for triple-A games and indies alike, he finds his passion within expressing his experiences in a fair and accurate manner. Some of Corvo's favorite games are Destiny 2, Mass Effect, and Disco Elysium.
The Expanse: A Telltale Series
Under fire from the Europa’s Bane pirates, Drummer must make the call to save her crew. This episode turns up the heat with the introduction of an antagonistic faction, while still allowing smaller moments to bond with the crew members in a way not present in the initial episode. While it feels like more of the same at times, this is a stronger episode in general from the first that gets to the action much more quickly, and has me looking forward to the next stop in this space-faring voyage across the Belt.