Review: The Expanse: A Telltale Series – Episode 4

The penultimate episode of The Expanse: A Telltale Series is rather polarizing. In essence, the highs of the episode are probably the peak of The Expanse title so far, but the lows are equally as low. Episode 3 left us—as Camina Drummer—at an old abandoned mining station in deep space. Our oxygen is low and we’re all alone after Arlen and Rayen took control of the Artemis and left us.

Drummer adventures back through the derelict station. in an attempt to find a communications panel to activate a beacon and hopefully get help. At the start of the episode, there is a power box puzzle similar to the ones in Episode 3, and then the episode turns into somewhat of a walking simulator. And I definitely mean it when I say “walking.”

The Expanse episode 4 characters
Screenshot by Destructoid

The Expanse: A Telltale Series – Episode 4 (PC [Reviewed], PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S)
Developer: Deck Nine
Publisher: Telltale
Released: September 7, 2023
MSRP: $39.99

A rough start

A majority of the episode is walking through the station—with no ability to run—while Drummer hallucinates due to oxygen deprivation. To put it bluntly, this is by far the slowest and most boring part of The Expanse yet. Not only is it painstakingly slow due to the hindered movement speed, but it also just sort of rehashes everything that has happened so far. This wouldn’t be so bad if we were in the penultimate chapter of a long game. However, in this case, our total playtime is literally only several hours. Some of the things the game is having us relive, I literally experienced an hour or so ago in terms of gameplay.

Filler is definitely not necessary when we’re talking about five one-hour-long episodes. Maybe there would be some intensity there if we didn’t know the fate of Drummer. But seeing as The Expanse game here is a prequel to the show, we know Drummer survives this event just fine. Instead, the majority of the episode just feels like filler meant to get us to the next episode.

Near the end of the segment in the station, Drummer has somewhat of a flashback where we get a little more information about her time working for Anderson Dawes before the show. It’s a nice little nod to fans of the series, that gives us a little bit more information. But, none of what happens is game-changing in any way in terms of story. And as far as gameplay, you literally just walk to each part of the room, triggering another moment from her past.

Perhaps the worst part of this long section of the episode is that, graphically, your screen is blurry due to Drummer’s oxygen deprivation. Unfortunately, I was unable to get any good screenshots of the episode for this reason.

All around me are familiar faces

Near the end of the episode, we finally reach the comms panel and activate the rescue beacon. Unfortunately, our saviors are in fact the pirates from Episode 2. Not quite the help we were looking for. Once taken on board, we also encounter another familiar face. Not familiar to Drummer, but familiar to fans of The Expanse TV series. I won’t say who it is, but I’m also not sure if the character’s appearance really means too much. In the end, this may just be a cool nod to the fans, rather than an impactful narrative.

We also finally come face-to-face with savage pirate captain Toussaint whom we evaded in Episode 2. She talks about wanting Drummer to join the team—which canonically we know does not happen—but also points out she tracked the Artemis and is following it. This, of course, is setting up a final showdown between Drummer and Arlen and Rayen. While cool, this really does nothing for the overall narrative of The Expanse, and it’s hard to really care about the characters we have barely seen and that did not exist in the show.

Another odd point about this episode is that there weren’t many choices. I found myself wondering near the end of the episode if there would even be a post-episode screen that shows the community split on choices throughout the episode. In the end, there was, but the number and quality of choices we made in this episode were super-low compared to the previous episodes.

The Expanse Episode 4 familiar faces
Screenshot by Destructoid

The beginning of the end

As we conclude the penultimate episode and head into the finale, I find myself a bit disappointed. The adventure started strong with Episode 1, and I was very excited for the future. In the beginning, I was thrilled about the potential The Expanse: A Telltale Series had, and it seemed to be handling the story right. But every episode since has felt pretty lackluster. The connecting story revealed at the end of Episode 3 feels as though it’s not going to progress any further with just one episode left.

And once again, we have to talk about length. Telltale titles and other narrative games have never been super long, but The Expanse is still way too short. Each episode has been about an hour, some a little less, and some a little more. But to say I’ve played about 4-5 hours through four out of the five episodes really makes me question the value. After all, The Expanse: A Telltale Series is priced at $39.99.

On September 21 we will get the final episode of The Expanse: A Telltale Series. At this point, I will write my final review and score for the series. With the direction we’re headed at the end of this episode, I’m not optimistic. But, The Expanse has certainly surprised me before. My hope is that, in the end, this is a memorable addition to The Expanse universe. Unfortunately, my fear is that it will instead be a forgettable—and honestly irrelevant—footnote in the story of Camina Drummer.

[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher. We’re saving the score for the final episode to encompass the complete experience.]

Steven Mills

Staff Writer – Steven has been writing in some capacity for over a decade now. He has a passion for story focused RPG’s like the Final Fantasy franchise and ARPG’s like Diablo and Path of Exile. But really, he’s willing to try anything.

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