By Karoline Castillo-Troncoso
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to live in space? Specifically, have you ever found yourself in an eerie and uncanny environment with nothing breaking the silence but the sound of calls from your crew mates as you traverse through space in Zero-G. Following the franchise’s various successes within the sci-fi universe whether through film and literature, The Expanse: A Telltale Series gives audiences an interactive look into the franchise’s dynamic stories.
The Expanse: A Telltale Series, co-developed by Deck Nine, is a single-player, episodic adventure game. It is a prequel to the television series The Expanse and undertakes a new perspective with inspiration from the novels. With the ability to make impactful decisions throughout the course of this game, audiences are left with a sense of control, but also of suspense. Additionally, players are able to save slots and therefore, go back and explore different outcomes of decisions previously made as one awaits the release of more episodes.
The crew described in this game come from a variety of backgrounds. Characters include Camina Drummer (the protagonist); the Artemis’ XO as well as a former OPA member from Ceres, Cox – captain of the Artemis and former UNN officer, Virgil, he medic with an obscure past, and others. Oftentimes, the essence of character mind and personality is commonly lost in games with the focus on protagonist’s objectives, like winning at all costs. But The Expanse: A Telltale Series allows for a glimpse into each character’s story. For example, as a player is introduced to Khan Tran, the pilot of the Artemis, one can conclude that she has a rather apathetic/indifferent personality.
But, as the player examines their surroundings, one can find a photo of Khan and her husband. Drummer states how she had never seen Khan so happy before. It brings one to question what occurred in order to cause such a shift in her personality and therefore further engages audiences in pursuit of learning more about the game’s characters.
As I ventured through the halls of the Artemis, I could interact with various objects that would give me information about upcoming missions into the Asteroid Belt. One particular mission required going on to a recent shipwreck (the Urshanabi) to scavenge for potential valuables. Some valuables found include: a quantum processor and a laser crystal. To my surprise, valuables weren’t the only thing found on the ship. Creepily, I discovered the severed heads and bodies of former crew members of the Urshanabi.
Additionally, I needed to locate the Officer’s Quarters. The thing is, it was fingerprint locked, calling for the right hand of an officer. I would therefore need to scavenge rooms full of corpses in search of a potential officer’s hand. Furthermore, players are given context on the hands behind the massacre after hearing a recording from a deceased UNN soldier: “Commanders, this is Private Tacoby. The pirates have asked me to report the following. All crew members, except for those barricaded in the officer’s quarters, have been killed or captured. The pirates do not wish to kill anyone else. If you open the gate now and allow them to complete their search, no more lives will be lost…” Actions following these last words are simply shocking – although it makes me curious about events that led up to this ordeal, and intrigued to see what happens next.
The setting expands beyond that of the Artemis and allows for the exploration of abandoned ships. On those ships, players will discover bodies-without heads-and an assortment of heart-wrenching calls left by deceased crew members. I’m fascinated by how effortlessly the aspect of humanity was incorporated into this game. Yet I also feel a sense of cruelty and how the world is often cold and divided. As she examines a bloodstain on the walls of a foreign ship, Drummer almost understatedly observers, “Looks like the crew didn’t surrender their heads to the pirates without a fight.”
The graphics are incredibly realistic; the voice acting is on par with the storyline, making it feel all the more impactful. I highly recommend the sci-if phenomenon to fans of “The Expanse” franchise and those who wish to partake in its adventures. Its detail is quite literally, astronomical and will most likely leave you without words, for various reasons (including that of floating heads). Telltale is making a comeback, and I can’t wait for future episodes!
Karoline is our intern from the Bronx’s TapCo school. She won one of our scholarships for writing a one-act play featuring a video game.