When Star Trek: Resurgence was first announced in December 2021 it brought an air of excitement. The team at Dramatic Labs, a group of former Telltale developers, was created to bring their beloved narrative adventures back to the forefront of gaming. What better way to do that than with the iconic Star Trek franchise?
Star Trek: Resurgence puts players in the shoes of First Officer Jara Rydek and Engineering Crewporson Caron Diaz, two members of the U.S.S. Resolute’s team. The choice to feature a leader of the crew and a member of the famed “lower decks” was an excellent one. It allows players to see the story unfold from two different perspectives with different responsibilities and choices. The concept of choices mattering in narrative adventure games like Star Trek: Resurgence gets a chance to expand when the choices the characters make have vastly different influences on unfolding events. The choices themselves are mostly weighty. There are some more trivial ones that only slightly change the relationship dynamics, but there are others with much higher stakes that have a massive impact on the story.
The story of Star Trek: Resurgence feels like it was plucked right out of a Star Trek episode. It takes place in the same era as The Next Generation, even featuring some beloved characters like Spock and William Rycker. An uprising of workers has destabilized relations between two different alien civilizations and Ambassador Spock is sent to play peacemaker. Investigating the cause of the uprising unveils some surprising details that unravel into a much deeper issue that needs solving. It’s typical Star Trek in the best way, but this time players get to be the ones responsible for making things right.
That’s what is really special about Star Trek: Resurgence. The ability to play the role of Starfleet members embroiled in a galactic conflict is transformative. The actions of the player have an impact that is much bigger than just the individual circumstances, but the stakes never feel overwhelmingly large or too over-the-top. Having two playable characters that have two different jobs to do during all of this also lets players see more of the inner workings of a Starfleet mission which was really enjoyable.
Unfortunately, not everything about Star Trek: Resurgence was as great as I had hoped. The most impactful on the player experience is the fact that it feels like an old Telltale game. Outside of making decisions, the gameplay boils down to some incredibly slow quick-time events that take the steam out of an otherwise good experience. These moments of forced slowing down took me out of the experience constantly, to the point where I started getting frustrated when the on-screen button prompts popped up. It is an experience that Telltale games were always known for, so it wasn’t entirely unexpected.
It is understandable that a game created by former Telltale team members feels like a Telltale game, considering how successful many of the Telltale games were. The problem is it’s not 2014 anymore and narrative adventure games have built on the old model to drastically improve the formula. Games like Life is Strange: True Colors make it so the world you are in feels alive and everything you do has meaning. You can decide to play at a slower pace and enjoy the moment, but you are never forced to slow things down for no discernable reason.
Star Trek: Resurgence is frustrating in this regard because I would love to explore a Starfleet ship or alien planets. Sadly, having to sit through seven or eight different quick-time events just to clean out a part on a shuttle doesn’t give that. Instead, Star Trek: Resurgance bottlenecks itself constantly and takes away from the excellent story and environments that they want to show. It isn’t done poorly, though, it’s just an outdated model that is more disappointing when we have seen more recent examples do it so much better.
I wasn’t a huge fan of Star Trek: Resurgence visually either. It has the look and feel of a mobile game, something that would be right at home on Apple Arcade. For a $40 launch price, however, I would have liked to see more polish put on the visual aesthetics. It’s not that it needed to go for hyper-realism, it’s ok to tell a Star Trek story in a stylistic way. It’s just that it doesn’t feel like it takes advantage of the Unreal Engine 5 technology to give the best looking environments and character models that could still fit within the art direction they chose.
Star Trek: Resurgence is not a bad game. There is a good story in there and the narrative adventure aspects are good. It is just bogged down by outdated visuals and mechanics that keep it from reaching its full potential.
Star Trek: Resurgence releases May 23rd on the Epic Game Store, Xbox Series S|X, and PlayStation 5.
Star Trek: Resurgence
Star Trek: Resurgence has an enjoyable story in a beloved universe but is bogged down by outdated mechanics and visuals in a genre that others have shown can be vastly improved.