The Expanse: A Telltale Series Episode One: Archer’s Paradox Review

In case you haven’t heard, Telltale Games are back and they’re teaming up with the fantastic Deck Nine for their resurgence.

No, no, we’re not talking about that Star Trek game that launched a little while back, but we are sticking to the stars and revisiting the epic Amazon Prime TV Show, The Expanse.

Five episodes set before the TV show, following the adventures of Camina Drummer – reprised by the original actor, Cara Gee – and the first of which is out now, with another episode following every fortnight.

Right away, this represents something of a departure from what we’re used to with Telltale, a studio that often kept us waiting as long as three months for some games when in their heyday. This approach is immediately more refreshing and tolerable. It also makes sense when trying to compete in a crowded, busy market.

And this is a really different time from when Telltale first showed up. We’re more used to digestible, episodic content with our TV shows – Netflix themselves now splitting their seasons in half and streaming services making us wait week on week for shows.

There’s also so much more content for Telltale to tap into than ever before, which makes this return both timely and exciting. I’m already dreaming about a Wheel of Time game from Telltale or perhaps a Rings of Power spinoff. Maybe something from Stranger Things. We could even go down the Marvel route, after all Telltale have done it before.

But honestly, I could not be happier with their first choice of The Expanse, one of the best, new IP, Sci-Fi shows in years. There’s such a rich, expansive (I had to get that word in here somewhere, c’mon…) universe to tap into, filled with political struggles, epic space battles and compelling characters. We already know the brilliant Shohreh Aghdasloo is reprising her role as Chrisjen Avasarala – and we even get a taste of it in this episode – and Telltale have already confirmed that others are on the way.

The key thing to remember is this is set before the TV show, so you don’t even need to have watched it. In fact, Telltale are hoping the game is used as a launch pad to introduce people to the show – and trust me, you should watch, it’s brilliant.

In true Deck Nine fashion – remember, they’re responsible for the brilliant Life is Strange: Before the Storm – this game is all about hard-hitting, well referenced, smart dialogue. And this episode is all about setting the tone, establishing Camina’s crew, introducing you to her character, and thrusting her into a dangerous scenario that will surely be at the epicentre of the entire season.

There’s not too many hard choices to make here, if I’m being honest. The longest I spent thinking about anything was a minute, but remembering Before the Storm, I don’t doubt the biggest decisions are yet to come. The decisions are important, though, and it’s clear there’s no fear in putting these characters in mortal danger from the off.

The thing I love about The Expanse so far is how free-roaming movement is. In previous Telltale games, you always felt like you were walking a very specific path and couldn’t really deviate from it. In this episode, there’s a certain point where you’re exploring a broken down vessel and you can explore it at your pace. There’s even side objectives to complete and conversations to have, in a bid to learn more about your crew.

Telltale Games set the benchmark for these episodic, narrative adventures, but I always felt like Life is Strange took that ball, ran harder, further and faster. Now it feels like Telltale are leaning into that somewhat, in smart, sensible ways that make sense for the games they produce.

And on that merit, I’d say this is a solid enough first episode to re-announce yourself to the world. It’s not their most memorable – those are sure to come – some might even say it’s over before it gets going. Which is kind of true as I think I was done in just over an hour, but there’s also so much I took away from that small taste, both narratively and mechanically.

Floating between broken parts of the ship and experimenting with Zero-G to walk up walls gave me serious Dead Space vibes. And to be honest, the episode is graphic enough to even match it for blood and guts. But it’s still all about those conversations, about you helping out your crew, learning about them, figuring out who is a friend and enemy, and wondering who to get close to and who to avoid. These games are known to be heartbreakers, after all.

The engine has also definitely had some work done, so rather than lagging behind in-between key decisions, everything feels free-flowing and natural. The art style also captures the essence of the show well, though on some elements textures look washed out and grainy, particularly planets.

Some character’s facial expressions also linger a bit longer than necessary which detract a bit from the experience. And I would even say some lines of dialogue sound like they’ve been recorded in a bathroom, where others sound much more professionally prepared, so there’s a bit of disparity in quality there.

All in all, though, I’m impressed with what I’ve seen. I’m very hungry for Episode Two already, and most importantly, I am very glad Telltale are back doing what they do best. I’ve missed these games so much and I’m delighted that I get to explore more of a world I’ve already fallen in love with. An absolute win/win.


Archer’s Paradox is a fantastic way for Telltale to reannounce itself to the world, doing what they do best, while working with one of the best narrative studios in the world. The Expanse: A Telltale Series starts off in an affirming, hard-hitting way, with fun mechanics, optional objectives, and some impactful decisions that will certainly have wide-reaching implications. Slight graphical hiccups, sound quality issues, and a short length do hold this one back a bit, meaning it’s not among Telltale’s best, but none of that is anywhere near enough to stop me from getting hyped for what comes next. 


+ Fantastic flow of conversation, well-versed in the lore while giving us a strong cast to care about.
+ Optional dialogue and quests give this one life beyond the critical path
+ Zero G works well and is pretty fun!
+ Soundtrack and voice acting is mostly wonderful
+ Captured the mood of the show beautifully


– A little on the short side
– Some graphical and SFX hiccups detract from the experience a bit

The Expanse: A Telltale Series Episode One: Archer’s Paradox Review

8 out of 10

Code kindly received from Telltale Games for Review Purposes

Episode Two – Hunting Grounds – Releases August 10th.

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