This is the virtual reality game of your future There are several ways in which The Expanse: A Telltale Series represents a comeback. It’s a new experience video game adaptation of a cult television series that had actually gone through its own resurrection, and it was developed by Deck Nine Games (the studio behind Life is Strange: True Colours and Before the Storm) and the new Telltale Games. It’s also the endeavour that aims to revive a much-loved genre of experience video games that had been all but forgotten by the turn of the millennium.
Launching the expansive universe of the science fiction thriller television series, The Expanse: A Telltale Series will be announced at The Game Awards in 2021. The Telltale series follows fan-favorite Camina Drummer as she begins her career as a scavenger in the belt and encounters hostile area raiders and defamation crewmates in far-flung regions of deep space.
It’s a promising debut for Telltale Games’ new era, and an interesting setting for a series of choice-driven experiences. After speaking with video game director Stephan Frost and starlet Cara Gee about adapting The Expanse universe into a computer game, I was able to play the first episode of The Expanse just days before its scheduled release on July 27. It featured those familiar and unexpected Telltale-style minutes.
Setting the Galactic Stage
If you’re in the dark, The Expanse is a science fiction show adapted from the novels written by James S.A. Corey. The narrative centres on humanity’s exploration and colonisation of the solar system in the not-too-distant future. People have established colonies on worlds far from Earth, where they have developed their own unique cultures and identities. However, a growing conflict between these communities threatens the fate of the galaxy and uncovers evidence of a long-lost civilisation that once flourished in the cosmos.
The TV show focuses on the politics and society of the numerous factions within the planetary system, providing a dynamic and complex universe with its rich history and tradition. It was essentially the science fiction analogue to Telltale Games’ adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones. The Expanse aired for three seasons on SyFy before being abruptly cancelled. The show was eventually brought back on Amazon Prime Video, capping out a successful six-season run on the service.
The designers claim that centering the game around Camina Drummer was a key priority and the only way they wanted to build the game when they secured the rights to make a computer game adaptation for The Expanse from Alcon Entertainment. The team decided it would be a good place to plant the main story of the Telltale series because the character is well-known but has a mostly unexplored past in the books and the TV series. The actress who played her on TV was also keen to learn more about space travel, so she viewed working on a video game adaptation as a “juicy acting job.”
Cara Gee, who reprised her role as Drummer, said, “It’s been remarkable reviewing this world and this character.” The Expanse is a job that refuses to die, and it looks like I’ll keep playing Drummer until the day I die. That this game maintains such high standards of intellectual rigour is, in my opinion, one of its greatest strengths.
“It was really important to me that the science was accurate, and the scripts and stories were great, when it came to playing this character at an earlier time in her life, and that’s exactly what happened. It helped me transition into the new medium and play drums once more. I’m proud of what we produced; it was a juicy acting gig.
We witness Drummer and the crew of the Artemis respond to a distress call from a ship that was attacked by a band of raiders in the early stages of her career as a scavenger in the Telltale series. They find wreckage and salvage, as well as theories about what happened, as they investigate the ship. In an already tense and dramatic situation, the episode opens with Drummer and the crew accompanying the captain to the airlock (only to be rejected).
Restoring the Telltale format
After playing the first episode of The Expanse: A Telltale Series, it was evident that the series will follow in the footsteps of Telltale’s previous work on The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us, with its emphasis on exploration and discovery.Playing as Drummer allowed me to explore the ship’s corridors and ceilings in zero gravity, uncover journals and other lore about the setting, and make pivotal interactive choices with other characters, triggering the recurring “X will remember that” moment.
The first Telltale Game in a long time, it also features modernised dialogue and locations to explore. Playing The Expanse, I could tell that the scale was far larger than that of The Walking Dead games. At one point during a spacewalk, Drummer had a particularly trying moment. While Jupiter lies in the distance, you get to navigate around outside in space, exploring wrecked ships and their interiors (complete with optional challenges). This was an amazing location, and it felt like it belonged in a much larger game like Mass Effect, but instead it was stuck in a Telltale game.
The Expanse was able to take advantage of cutting-edge technology and design work thanks to a collaboration with Deck Nine Games, which was something that game director Stephan Frost had always wanted to implement in a Telltale game.
According to Frost, “if you look back at things, Telltale in the 2010s actually influenced a great deal of experience video games that originated from other studios, like games with Life is Strange.” With Deck Nine co-developing the game, “we can really boost much of the psychological, character-driven storytelling because the innovation that entered into games like Life is Strange was actually a big thing,” says Game Informer. “We definitely wish to lean into the classic Telltale experience.” It’s like a whole new world for Telltale since we’re using better movement capture and the actual stars of the show to voice the characters and carry out the animations.
The middle portion of our foraging trip contained some of my favourite minutes. One of your teammates has become wedged between a door and some crucial salvage. Drummer would have to ruin his relationship with the rest of the crew if he dumped the cargo in order to safely eliminate the crewmember. Drummer has to quickly amputate the team member’s leg to secure the salvage, giving the others something to take with them after the perilous trek. It’s a harrowing scene reminiscent of Telltale-style pivotal choices, but with the expanded scope of The Expanse, it feels all the more potent.
After putting in a lot of time with the game, I’m excited about the new development company bringing back a Telltale experience. The Expanse would work wonderfully as the basis for a Telltale Games series. Returning to an episodic format for its storytelling, with new episodes debuting every two weeks following the conclusion of the show’s initial five-episode “season,” will give viewers more time to anticipate the arrival of subsequent episodes and discuss them with other viewers.
The partnership between Deck Nine Games and The Expanse hints at exciting potential future directions for Telltale Games’ next chapter. In addition to making significant technology advancements, the company has also managed to preserve the interactive storytelling design that made the original firm famous.Add to favorites