The Expanse: A Telltale Series Episode 3 - First Ones Review

September 4, 2023


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Spoilers for previous episodes of The Expanse - A Telltale Series may be found ahead. If you don’t want to know what happens then come back when you’ve made your own way through it and see what we thought. Previous episode reviews can be found here:- 

Episode 1 review 

Episode 2 review

At the end of episode two, the crew of the Artemis were following the trail of the MK Core. What that is, is still a mystery, but it's important enough that the UNN were sending the Urshanabi to retrieve it and your ex-Captain was bold enough to try and kill you to increase their share. However, as we arrive at the coordinates in the log, what we stumble on is something that is borderline creepy, and that sensation is only magnified as we investigate the uncharted settlement.

It stands to reason that, as Earth ventured out into the vastness of space in an effort to colonise the solar system, those that took the bold step first would be taking the biggest risk. You will be the first and with that comes the knowledge that you will take on challenges no-one else has. However, for every successful attempt there will be a litany of failures. Unfortunately, it seems, the colony we stumbled across met with such a fate and long enough ago that its existence was entirely forgotten.

Ah Maya, the Martian with idealism and hope

To say First Ones is a bit of a downer of an episode is quite the understatement, especially if your decisions are the same as ours leading to a character’s untimely demise. Even before then, the story of this colony is not a happy one and one of the revelations towards the end I found, as a parent, very sad indeed. First Ones really helps those who may not have watched the TV show understand just how marginalised the belters are as a minority. They are the workhorses of the solar system and yet are exploited at every turn and in generally shocking ways.

Most RPGs tend to lean towards giving the “good” endings to always choosing the honest or good option. However that isn’t true here in The Expanse so far, and I’m reminded of a line from the film The Equalizer, “Sometimes we make the wrong choices to get to the right place.” By running two playthroughs I’m seeing the differences, both big and small, that they are making and some are starting to appear. In one instance, what could be seen as the wrong choice in one of the playthroughs saved the life of a crew member who died if we made what many would naturally feel is the best choice. This subversion of the tried and tested way of playing these types of games not only feels refreshing but true to the source material.

Goodness knows what this is, but it can't be anything good

Those who have watched or read The Expanse know that many of the characters made decisions that could be seen as questionable or morally ambiguous. Nothing in the universe of The Expanse was black and white and often relied on these decisions in various shades of grey to bring about endings that felt like the best resolution to whatever issue was on the board. I think that’s why I loved it so much and decided I wanted to read the source material to get even deeper into the lore. Whilst we can all aspire to be a paragon Commander Shepard, we also recognise that sometimes, in real life, you have to make a few renegade decisions to get anything done.

It’s also good to know that the decisions I’m making are affecting the outcomes, though it has taken a bit of time to really start showing. Now that we’re halfway through, I’m wondering if salvaging everything I could that wasn’t nailed down will come in handy. Similarly, was sacrificing a crewmate's leg for a box of salvage the right “wrong” choice or will it come back to haunt me? I suppose it’s a good sign for the series that I’m getting keener and keener for each instalment to not only find out where this rabbit hole is going but how far the ripples of my decisions will travel.

This is more than a touch creepy

The signs are good that Telltale is coming back strong with this series. They have, for me, nailed the underlying themes and narratives that made the TV show so compelling. Were it not for it being set before those events, this could quite easily pass as one of the many interweaving threads of the wider story set within it. I’m really, really hoping that they can stick the landing. We have two more episodes to come, three if you’ve bought the deluxe edition that has one additional episode, though the latter focuses more on Chrisjen Avasarala who at this point in her career at the UN is Under-Secretary for Peace Operations. We still have some unanswered questions and another cliffhanger for an ending leaving us to wonder where all this is going.

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With only two more episodes to go to complete its story, Telltale shows it can still spin a good yarn. If it can competently wrap up the story threads, everyone involved should get a well deserved pat on the back and extra credits on shore leave.
Pete Taylor

A long time gamer since the days of the mighty ZX Spectrum +2. The bug really bit when I got a Sega Mega Drive 2 and it hasn’t let up since. Huge racing fan but I also enjoy losing myself in a well-told RPG and management sims. It doesn’t have to be good-looking to win my heart, it’s what’s deep down inside that matters.