There is a certain DNA that some teams manage to bottle when they form a new studio. Looking at Star Trek: Resurgence for the first time I instantly considered it a ‘Telltale Games’ game, before remembering that they closed their doors. Star Trek: Resurgence is however by Dramatic Labs, a studio comprised of former Telltale writers, developers, designers, artists and producers. And it shows, big time.
Set after the movie Star Trek Nemesis, Resurgence tells a brand new tale in the Star Trek universe. You control two very distinct characters in First Officer Jar Rydek and Engineer Carter Diaz. Both Rydek and Diaz have vastly different roles to play onboard the USS Resolve, a science vessel recently sent on a new mission following a recent tragic accident .
Now with Star: Trek Resurgence being a mostly story based game, I must warn those looking to go into the game without any sort of spoiler, look away now. I will try not to ruin anything major plot wise, however some characters that appear will be discussed.
**Minor Spoilers Follow**
Star Trek: Resurgence sees you play as both a bridge officer aspiring to be Captain, as well as a lower deck engineer who hasn’t found their calling yet. This is a very interesting dynamic to see play out, as both have vital roles to play in the running of the ship. It’s quite refreshing to be able to play as a lower deck officer, as most Star Trek games have you take on bridge crew officers exclusively.
If you have played a Telltale game of recent years such as Batman: The Telltale Series or even Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series, you will have a pretty good idea already of how Resurgence plays out. You have your point and click sections that focus on finding objects in the environments, light platforming, exploration and shooting. Combining these with the choice and consequences based system Telltale were famous for, has Star Trek: Resurgence feeling like the evolution of previous titles.
You see, Star Trek for me has always been more about the characters and their relationships evolving than the actual events happening around them. Sure, a good old escape from the Borg, or getting into a dispute with a Klingon faction is always exciting, but seeing how Riker and Picard would often disagree is, as Ambassador Spock would say, fascinating.
These characters feel like real people living past lives, often having crossed paths with one or another before. It really felt like the USS Resolve had just suffered through a traumatic experience and were a crew looking for hope. Since we mentioned Ambassador Spock we need to get into the voice acting.
Not only have the writing team done a commendable job of crafting a truly authentic Star Trek story, but the voice actors here bring these characters to life. Each line delivered, regardless of the player’s choice, feels real. And that’s the heart of this game, realism (well to a point, it is Star Trek after all). The voice actor who stands in for the late Leonard Nimoy (Piotr Michael) as Ambassador Spock, deserves some sort of award for how he manages to nail the finer points of an ageing Spock in attitude and tone. Hats off all round to both the writing and voice acting.
Making decisions may not have long lasting consequences or major effects every time, but I guarantee you they feel like some of the most weighty decisions in any video game you have played. Each time I would make a snap decision I would wince just in case that choice would ruin everything; it really feels like you are making life or death decisions for characters you have grown to care for.
The story of Resurgence involves the ship and her crew being sent to peacefully resolve a dispute between two races: the Hotari and the Alydian. This is no easy task as tensions have run high for years between the two and now the Hotari have forcefully taken a dilithium crystal mining operation from the Alydian. Who to trust is unclear and you simply need to go with your gut feelings and enjoy the ride.
There is no meter in the game to let you know how you stand with characters in Resurgence, so you have to rely on snappy decision making and what feels right, rather than worrying about karma. Occasionally one decision will cause a crew mate to dislike you or even lead to something worse down the line, but each step of the way feels like you have had a direct effect on how the story has come together.
Exploration is very limited, and the action takes place in small areas when taking on missions. Each of these is split into its own episode, like a part of a TV show, running a title card at the beginning. Shooting the phaser during combat sections is not a strong point as it feels loose yet sluggish often leading to a stupidly quick death when boxed in trying to protect a team mate.
Dying in the game actually presents an option some players will make use of – story mode. When you die, the choice to retry as normal or attempt things in story mode pops up; choosing story mode allows you to play the section without the fear of dying, however some later stealth sections will require you to remain unseen or the section will still fail.
On occasion during scanning sequences I found it tricky to discover the next object to scan. This is due to the fact that they are often small slivers that are easily missed. It becomes tricky to find the next scannable object during one sequence whilst in the mines; smaller than the objects scanned beforehand. These are small niggles that can be fixed via patches down the line, but prominent nonetheless.
Graphically, Star Trek: Resurgence has beautiful space vistas, amazing looking facial expressions and characters, as well as interesting planets. Sometimes there is a little jankiness and glitching, another more unfortunate DNA strand from Telltale games. That aside, the game feels, looks and sounds like it is genuine Star Trek material, much like a brand new series. The writing and acting are that strong.
So to summarise, Star Trek: Resurgence is quite simply the best evolution of the point and click genre I have played. Having taken in the wonderful Star Trek Online recently has made me wish for a game that combines everything found in Resurgence with some more of the RPG elements and exploring found there. A Mass Effect style Star Trek game should go down an absolute treat for fans and general gamers alike. Either way, I would like to see a follow up from the team at Dramatic Labs.
One of the best games of 2023 so far, Star Trek: Resurgence deserves to be spoken about as discussions surround the best Star Trek storyline of all time. Yes it is that good.