Star Trek: Resurgence Review
Star Trek has a rich history of great stories over its almost-60 year history, so it’s curious how it’s taken so long for videogames based on the franchise to be set in the adventure genre. Star Trek: Resurgence is a narrative adventure game, or as I like to call them, a visual novel with extra steps. You know, the story will be tootling along in front of you when suddenly there’s a quick time event and you need to phaser a rock, then choosing whether you insult someone’s mum or compliment their haircut. There’s a shorthand way to describe the type of game, but I’m here to talk about what developer Dramatic Labs created.
Set in the year 2381 — a few years after the USS Voyager returned home — you play as Commander Jara Rydek, the new first officer on the USS Resolute (NCC-92317), a Centaur-class science vessel. You also play as Petty Officer Carter Diaz, a member of the engineering team who has been on the ship for a while. As the game begins, the Resolute is finishing up a major refit following the events of the prequel comic tie-in published by IDW Comics. You’re given the general gist of it, but I recommend checking it out, it’s a good introduction to the crew, and believe me there are worse Star Trek comics out there.
The Resolute’s current mission is to broker peace talks between two worlds. The ship needs to pick up an ambassador and get over there, as one of the worlds supplies a healthy amount of the dilithium that the Federation uses. Also, there’s a particularly nasty ion storm making travel a bit difficult. What follows is a true Star Trek plot, and genuine kudos to the writers of this game because it features peace talks, phaser fights, beings with abilities as unto a god, ship battles, scanning, transporters… I don’t want to give too much away, and in fact just deleted a sentence of Star Trek stuff that was potentially spoilery for this game.
However, you may be one of those people who checks out the score first and wonder, “if I loved the story, why that score”? Unfortunately, it’s a lot of little things that snowballed into really harming how good Star Trek: Resurgence is. I can get over nitpicks like the ion storm being the wrong colour, the replicator using the transporter sound effect, and some of the plants having no transparency layer so they had black borders… Stuff like that can be fixed in a patch, and I can just get over the green storm.
Let’s start with the subtitles, which were off by default. I’m used to them not always matching what was said, because another take sounded better than what was written. But multiple times the subtitles were missing, so if you need them to play the game, it seems like sometimes nobody is talking even when asked a question. Next are the controls which move too quickly, too slowly, or are just weird, because there’s no vibration at all despite the game being designed to use a controller even on PC. You can’t exit menus by pressing a button, you have to scroll to the “exit” option, which seems like a strange oversight? Then we have the graphical glitches where people aren’t touching the things they’re holding, or their head disappears before everything else when transporting.
The most egregious graphical glitch came during a quick time event — which I kept failing. I had to move the cursor and press a button when the cursor was in the centre, simple, I’d done it a dozen times by that point. Except the cursor wouldn’t move up — it moved down, but it needed to go up — so I kept failing the event. I tried it about 10 times, and by attempt number seven I realised that my target was moving. Each attempt moved it a little further away from the item I needed to shoot, so not only was I unable to move the cursor, but even if I managed it I’d wind up shooting the wrong thing!
Luckily, Star Trek: Resurgence has what they call Story Mode, so if you keep failing an event you can press a button and temporarily (I think just the one time?) the event will automatically clear. So, “I” shot the centre of the cursor which was less satisfying, but I do at least appreciate a good easy mode — I like to cheat in single player games. The game at least makes you attempt an event once before allowing you to go into Story Mode, it’s not an available option from the menu. In fact, volume options and brightness are the only options… One thing I thought was odd, though, is that when you’re given the chance to choose what to say, there’s a timer running down as you decide — but making no choice is not an option. The game will pause once the timer runs out (or almost runs out in one instance?) giving you as many minutes or hours as you need to pick a button. Most games in the genre will pick an option for you, but not this one!
It’s not like failing every event means you have to use Story Mode, however, most of them just change how characters interact with you. See, Star Trek: Resurgence is a choice-based game where decisions you make will change how everyone sees you. Screw up with the tractor beam (or an apparent cursor glitch causes you to…) and the ambassador will just think you’re a chump. Go counter to the captain’s wishes and he’ll be less inclined to listen to you later. Choose coffee instead of tea, okay, well that changes nothing.
Graphically, Star Trek: Resurgence is nothing special. The environments are well-designed and the characters all look fine, just very notable. At least it’s easy to tell how they feel, unlike certain detective games set in Los Angeles… The voice acting is great overall, though there are a few line deliveries that fell flat. Switching between controlling the two different characters allowed the whole cast to get some time in the spotlight, which I appreciated.
As far as Star Trek goes, Star Trek: Resurgence is a welcome addition to the lore. Even though it’s not canon (because it’s not one of the movies or TV shows), I think it would fit in seamlessly. It almost falls into the usual pitfall of “modern Trek” by leaning on a bit of nostalgia, but at least in this it’s an addition rather than trying to justify a character’s backstory. Rest assured, nobody discovers they’re McCoy’s great grand-niece or dating Quark’s ex.
If you’re in the mood for a Star Trek game that doesn’t star children, then I recommend checking Star Trek: Resurgence out, though wait until it’s received a couple of patches first. Especially, if you’re eager to find out the backstory to a character who appeared in less than half an episode from the 1980s, then you’ll be really happy. The glitches and issues, while frustrating, didn’t completely take away from the experience, and I definitely hope we’re going to see more from the USS Resolute.
Star Trek: Resurgence (Reviewed on Xbox X|S)
Game is enjoyable, outweighing the issues there may be.
Any Star Trek fan is going to enjoy this, and it might even turn narrative adventure fans into Trekkies!