Star Trek: Resurgence
Video game for Xbox, PlayStation and PC
Developer: Dramatic Labs
Release Date: May 23, 2023
Star Trek: Resurgence is a narrative adventure game set in the Next Generation era. It is a welcome return to single-player gaming on PC and console for the franchise. Resurgence succeeds in immersing players into the Star Trek universe, playing key roles in a fascinating story worthy of the name Star Trek. Regular gamers and novices should be able to navigate their way through the story-focused game, albeit with a few periodic frustrations.
NOTE: MINOR GAME SPOILERS BELOW
Resurgence is set one year after Star Trek: Nemesis on the science vessel USS Resolute. Broken into 40 “episodes” that can each take 10-20 minutes to play, the game features an excellent story cleverly tied into Star Trek lore. The Resolute has been tasked with a diplomatic mission to solve a dispute between the Hotari and the Alydian, two new alien races created for the game who are well fleshed out with complicated backstories and unique designs and iconography. Coming along for the ride is one of the familiar faces of the game, Ambassador Spock, ably played by veteran voice actor Piotr Michael who really nails the cadence and style of Nimoy from the TNG era. The drama and stakes of the mission escalate as a mystery unfolds which ties into a fascinating but somewhat obscure civilization from Star Trek canon, which opened up the opportunity to include Captain William T. Riker and have Jonathan Frakes add his special something to the game.
Players take on two roles: First Officer Jara Rydek and Engineering Crewperson Carter Diaz. Switching back and forth between the two gives different sides of the unfolding story from the bridge and lower decks perspectives while also offering opportunities for different kinds of gameplay. Each has their own quirks and issues, giving the player a great starting point to work from; voice actors Krizia Bajos (Rydek) and Josh Keaton (Diaz) sell each of your choices with perfection. This is the first game from Dramatic Labs, and they chose to make a Star Trek game first because the team genuinely loves the franchise, which can be seen in how they made Rydek a Kobliad: They take a somewhat obscure Trek race and find interesting ways to see how that impacts her personal story and interactions.
Dramatic Labs is made up of veterans from Telltale Games, so if you are familiar with those, you will find the structure using quick time events, mini-games, and cut scenes familiar. However, Resurgence raises the level on those popular games by adding better graphics, more functionality, and an even more complex story structure. The third-person game primarily focuses on dialogue as players choose how to interact with other characters, and it is here where the game is at its best. While staying within the lines of what would be expected of members of Starfleet, the dialogue choices allow you to vary your roleplay, choosing to play it straight and by the book, or maybe go the sarcastic wisecrack route, or fill the ship with your sunny disposition.
The choices you make impact your relationships with different members of the crew as well as determine the course of both the main plot and subplots, including a potential romance. The excellent writing and strong voice work from the cast completely immerse the player as you navigate your way through the crew of the Resolute and beyond. Some relationships like the ones between Rydek and the prickly Captain Solono or Diaz and his bubbly buddy Petty Officer Edsilar can be quite nuanced. Decisions you make often come back later in the game in dialogue, adding even more to your agency within the game. Some choices may seem trivial, but others are profound and can have lasting consequences, allowing for both lighter fun moments and heartbreaking drama.
A subtitle option helps you follow along, and there are indicators showing if character interactions were positive, neutral, or negative. However, it would be nice to be able to refer to a log to catch up on missed dialogue. You can also at any time pause the game and check your status with different characters. The narrative nature of the game keeps this as a sort of scoreboard, but often there are no “right” choices, so in the end, like in real life, you can’t keep everyone happy all the time, although disappointing Spock hurts more than getting fragged in any first-person shooter. The good news is that you can change people’s opinions of you as you play through the game but there are some choices that will leave a lasting or even permanent impact.
Resurgence isn’t built to have cutting-edge graphics, although what it has is adequate, based on the popular Unreal Engine. However, Dramatic Labs has added its own “Beanie” narrative engine which allows for this complex choice-based narrative to play out of what ends up being the equivalent of a full season of Star Trek. While some choices just add flavor or even some fun, like picking your command code or choosing a replicator beverage, the player is often faced with moral choices and even a few moments that feel like no-win scenarios, adding some real emotional punch. There is a “Choices” screen where you can explore the choices that you’ve made in the game and see how they’ve affected various events and relationships during your journey. The game also autosaves as you go along with many save points. However, it would be nice to have the option to pick previous save points to try out some different options or choices.
Added to the branching narrative functions of the game is some basic exploring, however, this is not an open-world game, so don’t expect to be able to just walk around the ship and check everything out. Resurgence also features a number of mini-games and puzzles, including tricorder scanning and shuttle piloting. These add depth to the Star Trek immersion, along with all the technobabble and appropriate beeps you could want.
These puzzles, especially with the tricorder, can really make you feel like you are in Starfleet helping sort out problems and even uncovering ancient mysteries. However, often the puzzles can get a bit frustrating, with limited or even no clues for when you get stuck. There are tutorial slides available in the pause menu, but sometimes a task can take so long that you can forget what exactly you are supposed to do and so more hints and a way to remind you of your current task would be helpful.
The game also has some rudimentary stealth mechanics so you can sneak around the bad guys, which adds a bit more to the game but these sequences prove very little challenge. There are a few segments of phaser combat along with some basic cover system that ramps up the action including some timed segments that can prove to be very challenging. Players used to complex RPGs and shooters may find the limited combat system a bit frustrating, but if you ever get stuck in a segment the game offers you “story mode” which allows you to play through without getting killed and having to restart that segment.
The best action in the game comes during dramatic scenes on the bridge as Jara has to make some critical decisions, dealing with the captain, her fellow bridge officers, and of course, fending off enemy ships. There are some moments, especially later in the game, that have just as much impact as some of the best Star Trek battle sequences. More importantly, some choices you make will stay with you, making you wonder was there a better way? Much of this drama is enhanced by the strong original score which fits well within the Next Generation era, especially the movies.
The game seamlessly flows from cut scene to choice to puzzle and back again making this the ultimate choose-your-own adventure within Star Trek. However, both the PC and console review releases had a few hiccups including dropped frames, and audio issues, usually fixed by just reloading the most recent save point, and hopefully, these little bugs will be sorted out with early patches. And adding the ability to skip cut scenes (especially if you already played through that episode before) would be a big help, as would the ability to reload previous episodes.
Resurgence isn’t at the level of a AAA game like the recently released Star Wars: Jedi Survivor or Bethesda’s highly anticipated sci-fi game Starfield, but it is the most ambitious and impressive Star Trek game since 2019’s Star Trek: Bridge Crew. The strength of the game and why it is highly recommended to any fan is for the fascinating story that it allows you to participate in, populated with interesting well-played characters, all inhabiting a familiar Star Trek universe that also expands the lore. Star Trek: Resurgence literally lets you test the axiom “risk is our business” with an experience you will not soon forget.
Available on Tuesday
Star Trek: Resurgence arrives on Tuesday, May 23rd. It is available on Xbox (Xbox One, Xbox One S, Xbox One X, Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X), PlayStation (PlayStation 4, PlayStation 4 Slim, PlayStation 4 Pro, PlayStation 5), and PC (via Epic Game Store). The release price is $39.99. It is available only as a digital release and there are no pre-orders but more info on how to buy the game along with required PC specs and more FAQs are available at startrek-resurgence.com.
Check out the launch trailer (warning it includes spoilers)
Here is some pre-release footage from the game…
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