star Trek: Resurgence is an upcoming choice-based adventure title from Dramatic Labs, an independent studio with plenty of former Telltale Games workers. For developers who made their names at a studio known for weaving compelling stories into existing universes, the chance to work with an IP as big as Star Trek is almost certainly an enticing prospect – even if it comes with the challenge of nailing the tone of a series that’s been around for decades. During a hands-on preview for the game, lead writer Dan Martin explains the title takes place a year after Star Trek: Nemesis in the Prime timeline.
Tonally, the pacing and focus on workplace-and-alien drama and decision-making exudes the tone of old-school Trek, and will have fans of classic Trek episodes jumping around more than Q. The slow-paced and dialogue-heavy (both good for Trek fans) opening chapters we got to play showed off a number of interesting choices, which led to some strong character reactions.
After a brief introduction of a new character – engineer Carter Diaz – and his relationship to his Vulcan superior, the preview follows a lengthy story chapter involving a second character. In this scenario, you play another new character in the Star Trek universe – Commander Rydek – who, along with Spock, goes to negotiate control of a dilithium mine between two races: the Hotari, and the Alydians. As Rydek, you’re responding to questions from the Hotari queen about who the Federation is aligning with in the dispute, and also trying to defend – or allow – accusations that the Starfleet Federation is only there negotiating in the first place as an interested party with imperialist designs on the mine.
We cringed when we chose not to show deference to the queen during an important peace negotiation, who in turn aimed a disdainful frown in the direction of our Starfleet officer. I was unable to tell how significant my choices would be, though at the end of the scene, Spock suggested something to the effect that we would have another chance to make said decisions. The scene as a whole indicated that there would be some big alliances, choices, and hopefully some more mature topics explored, as the Federation is not portrayed as a neutral party. The entire scene was played using button prompts placed within cutscenes, but it’s a reminder that choose-your-own-adventure games of this style should figure out a way to make these scenes more dynamic. There’s no need for ridiculous Quantic Dream-level quick-time events, but waiting four minutes to press a button seems like it would feel tedious after a while.
The second scenario of the preview returns to engineer Diaz, and allows players to slowly manoeuvre a shuttle around asteroids, which felt rather mindless and low-stakes. I aimed an analogue stick and used the triggers to accelerate or decelerate, and an asteroid never really came close to hitting me. While doing this, the engineer schmoozed with another officer about his ambitions in Starfleet, and his tense relationship with his Vulcan supervisor, and then had to do a small mapping puzzle. It was laid-back Trek, and, as it proceeded, interacted with the drama happening on the planet where negotiations were taking place. In essence, the game is structured like a television episode with an A and B story.
From the demo, it’s hard to say how anything in the game not related to choosing conversation paths will pan out. Unlike many of Telltale’s titles, however, Resurgence aims for realistic, rather than stylised, humanoid character models. You’ll be staring at a lot of faces during conversations, and, frankly, the animations seemed unfinished and downright goofy at times. Some reactions would alternate between being either underplayed or completely over-the-top, which we can imagine detracting from more serious moments during a full-length narrative experience.
Also unlike Telltale’s games, Resurgence will release as a single, completed title, rather than episodically. Martin said the game will have a mix of gameplay segments, including puzzling, exploration, tricordering, and phasering goodness. How that’s going to shape up remains to be seen, but Resurgence still doesn’t have a specific release date – so there’s a chance some extra time in development resolves some of this preview’s larger issues.