You may know popular Star Wars games galore, but great Star Trek games are much harder to come by. And many critics have said that’s because most of the games in the Trek universe have emphasized phaser-blasting action over the relationships and reasoned strategy of a spacefaring adventure, which was always the true core of a Gene Roddenberry created TV series.
Star Trek: Resurgence—a debut release from the Telltale Games-offshoot Dramatic Labs—attempts to rectify that problem. The gamemakers hope to take their game where no Star Trek title has gone before.
Resurgence sets its action aboard the science vessel Resolute. Players alternate between controlling the choices of two different characters: Petty Officer Carter Diaz and Commander Jara Rydek. The two rarely work together, but they’re generally working on two different sides of the same problems.
The Resolute is being retrofitted following a recent onboard disaster. Commander Rydek is a new Star Fleet Academy graduate who’s been brought in as the ship’s executive officer in the wake of that disaster. And Diaz is an engineer who’s busy getting his hands dirty with the many needed repairs. The ship’s Captain, Zachary Solona, is in a difficult position since it was, seemingly, his orders that caused the disaster and took some 23 crewmember’s lives.
With that straightforward beginning, the captain sets off to restore his reputation and honor on an important diplomatic mission that involves none other than Ambassador Spock himself.
But as is often the case with Star Trek intergalactic negotiations, there’s a great mystery here to be unraveled. As some crewmembers navigate social and interpersonal conflicts and others investigate scientific and technological puzzles, it becomes clear that every challenge can be tackled from more than one perspective.
And that’s the essence of Resurgence’s gameplay: choice. Yes, the game includes some phaser blasting, tricorder reading, starship battling and mechanical jigsaws to physically untangle. But the story is shaped, for the better or worse, by the moment-to-moment choices made both in and out of the captain’s chair.
Each ethical choice, interpersonal resolution and command order (quickly timed selections made from a list of several choices) helps shape the other crewmember’s attitudes. Those choices determine the acceptance and aid given to both Rydek and Diaz. And ultimately they influence the final outcome of this involving adventure. The game is divided into 40 “episodes,” each requiring about 15 to 20 minutes to play out.
This well-crafted story moves along at a brisk pace and never bogs down. Events and challenges continually escalate in reasonable ways, leading to consequential decisions. In fact, from the very beginning, Resurgence has the feel of an elongated Star Trek show. On that front, the characters are likeable, memorable and nicely defined.
The in-game choices, as mentioned, make all the difference here. And players must rely on their own moral compass in many cases. Will you disobey a direct order? Which crewmember do you trust for spur-of-the-moment logic or expertise? Will you risk a single life to save a score? Or vice-versa? Will you risk your own life to save your crewmates?
And in the end, gamers learn lessons from their mistakes—when a choice goes wrong or a bit of logic is faulty. The game definitely teaches that wise leadership can make a great deal of difference in the heat of trouble. And sometimes the best resolution requires wise compromise over steadfast goal making. The game also emphasizes developing good relationships with those around you. A character who trusts and believes in you will go the extra mile. All of the above plays directly into the Star Trek ethos that Resurgence exudes.
This game carries a T-rating for its perilous situations and violence. Characters are injured and many can die depending on your choices. In fact, characters you become close with can lose their lives.
We see crewmembers blasted in the heat of battle and others tumbling about after explosions. Some of the fallen display evidence of blood and injury. Someone takes a blast to the face and loses her sight. In one situation, Rydek can order the destruction of literally millions of alien people. In another she decides whether to give aid to a ship of surrendering foes or leave them to suffer and die. There’s also a situation where a form of torture can be used on an enemy to extract information.
In addition, gamers will hear the use of the phrase “I’ll be d–ned.” Someone drinks a glass of alcohol and your character can accept an offer to drink some. There’s also the possibility of one character entering into a romantic relationship (though the only physical representation we see is a kiss).
Star Trek Resurgence may not have reached the point of being a perfect mind meld of the popular franchise that so many love. But it’s still pretty stellar. It’s immersive, fun and has a great Trek-type feel. Some might point and say it’s Engage-ing.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.