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The Expanse: A Telltale Series Episode 3 – The First Ones review — A curt climax

This review contains spoilers for The Expanse: A Telltale Series Episode 1 & 2

After arriving at the location of the mysterious coordinates obtained from the remains of the UNN Urshanabi, Drummer and Maya depart the Artemis to investigate an abandoned mining station. It’s here where the crew believes the M.K. Core to be stashed, a prize of untold riches waiting to be recovered. However the uncharted station holds a dark secret within that Maya and Drummer must bear witness to if they are to uncover the truth of the treasure.

This episode takes a break from the typical exploration found in episodes one and two in favor of a more linear experience. Rather than scavenging through wreckage in free space, you’ll instead be investigating a station from when the original settlers of the belt were making their first voyages out into the rim. I found this new area to be refreshing from the typical scenery on offer, while still including opportunities to release your magboots and float around. There are also some novel mechanics introduced regarding some junction box puzzles, but similar to the drone stealth sections of the previous episode, they can feel a bit simplistic. However with this being a mainly narrative experience, I’ll still take what I can get to shake up the gameplay.

My only issue with this transition is that this also means that the length of the episode is noticeably shorter. I found myself wondering why there wasn’t an opportunity to walk around the Artemis and talk to my crew mates before venturing into the mining colony, or why there wasn’t more to do within the facility itself. Where is Cox in the story, what was the point of keeping him alive to this point? This episode feels like it has a missing piece, which is such a shame because this is one of the more interesting locations we’ve visited so far. 

I was really happy with the environment of this episode, and could feel them leaning into the space-horror vibes. A chilling mystery fills the halls of the abandoned colony as Drummer and Maya explore deeper into the facility, finding the corridors lined with countless make-shift coffins. It was intriguing learning about the history of some of the first settlers, and what became of them out here on the frontier. Unfortunately, seeing as the residents have long passed, there isn’t much to interact with outside of logs and scavenging materials. There’s not a lot of important decision moments to make that feel like they impact the greater narrative, save for the climax near the end of the episode.

I will be avoiding spoilers as best I can, but I do need to discuss the big decision moment of this episode. This is actually the only real decision to make, and in my playthrough it didn’t even matter what choice I picked, the outcome was the same regardless. It didn’t matter that I helped a certain character multiple times in previous episodes, the fact that I made one decision against them locked me into a path with no way to earn their trust back no matter what, which feels a little disappointing. This climax was very powerful and certainly will change the story moving forward in an interesting way, but to me, this giant change in the narrative should have been something that I could influence over the course of multiple episodes instead of being all or nothing. 

While I’m happy to finally see the reveal of the coordinates pay off from the first episode, this entry is leaving a lot to be desired. In a series where your choices are meant to matter, it feels odd having an episode with only one major decision that has the potential to have the same outcome regardless of which way you choose to play the situation. The short length of the episode only hinders this further, making for somewhat of a disappointing climax of the story so far. The overarching narrative still has me hooked though, and despite some of the shortcomings I’m still looking forward to how the story will develop further as Drummer continues to face some of her biggest challenges.

Editor | Website

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.

70

Good

The Expanse: A Telltale Series

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While not the strongest entry so far, episode three still manages to feel like it takes the narrative forward with a powerful revelation and climax. Learning the history of some of the first belt settlers was fascinating, however a lack of decision-making opportunities bogs down the gameplay loop. While it may not be the middle act I was hoping for, Telltale certainly still has its hooks in me with Drummer’s story.

Corvo Rohwer

Unless otherwise stated, the product in this article was provided for review purposes.

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