While it might seem obvious to say this, Star Trek: Resurgence is really one for the Trekkies out there. Yes, I know: sterling insight as always – but I struggle to imagine non-fans of Roddenberry’s universe getting past certain barriers to truly enjoy the experience. It’s a narrative adventure in the vein of a Telltale series, with the focus on moral and choices, critical decisions, and heaps of quick-time event minigames.
You split your time between two protagonists: lowly engineer Carter Diaz and decorated First Officer Jara Rydek. As the former you’ve been part of the crew of the U.S.S Resolute for a while, having been around six months before when an warp drive experiment almost obliterated the ship, and killed 20 crew members including the previous First Officer. As a result, tensions are high as Starfleet prepares to return the Resolute to active service despite the concerns of her crew. As the latter, you’re attempting to fill the shoes of your popular and highly thought-of predecessor.
It’s a narrative juxtaposition that mostly works, although Diaz often comes across as the slightly bumbling well-meaning sidekick to Rydek’s hyper-competent, no-nonsense leader. As both you’ll need to make decisions that impact how the supporting cast view you and, subsequently, treat you. A dangerous anomaly early on allows you to find your feet where the narrative is concerned, setting out your stall early doors in terms of who you’re likely to get on with better. From stiff upper-lipped Science Officers to enthusiastic fangirls, or from old friends joining the crew to a stuffy Vulcan Engineering Chief, there are plenty of faces to get to know and plenty of decisions to make.
Oddly, I much preferred the character stuff to the gameplay sections. You’ll often be asked to solve engineering issues as DIaz, for example, which are often so simple as to become a little tedious after a while. You also can’t invert the controller axis, which really irritated me when I was called to fire a phaser or pilot a ship, or even sneak around in some of the clunky stealth sections.
Star Trek: Resurgence is at its absolute best when you’re living out your Star Trek common fantasies, making split-second decisions on the Bridge or when out investigating alien worlds, solving problems that only you can solve. But as soon as it attempts to cut this with action-oriented gameplay the limitations of the engine simply can’t be ignored. Stealth in particular feels weird and awkward, and if you only had to deal with it once or twice I’d ignore it, but it becomes fairly frequent later on.
It’s a shame, because the setting, characters, writing and events are a Star Trek fan’s dream. Environments, particularly on the ship, are faithfully created, and all the technical jargon flows like a waterfall. Warp bubbles and tricorders and dialithium crystals may not mean much to the layman, but Trekkies will feel comfortably at home.
Where Star Trek: Resurgence really struggles, though, is in the visual department. It just doesn’t look very good, strongly resembling something like Mass Effect: Andromeda where character models are concerned. Dead-eyed stares, out-of-place expressions, weird pauses between lines of dialogue, and an overall woodenness to the animations compound to take you out of the moment time and time again. The models themselves are also far too uniform, and regardless of species every body shape is the same and only the head and hands appear alien, giving the impression that everyone is just wearing Halloween costumes. Starfleet in Resurgence seems to have a rigorous recruitment drive that requires everyone to wear the same size uniform with zero exceptions.
But as I said, die hard Star Trek fans will see past these imperfections and enjoy the ride. From escorting political ambassadors to heading into the unknown as part of a shore team, commanding a ship from the Captain’s chair to fiddling with the engines of an actual Federation Starship, there’s enough here to let you live out more or less any Star Trek fantasy you want to – within limits. A few famous faces from the greater universe also pop up from time to time, but it’s more fan service than crucial characterisation.
All in all, Star Trek: Resurgence offers a genuine thrill for big fans of the series, and more of a curio to anyone else. It’s neither as tightly crafted nor as good-looking as a Telltale game, but leans heavily on similar systems. Characters are largely well-written, and it feels authentic and true to what Star Trek is, but if you’re not much into the universe there’s little here to really hold your interest.
Some great "Star Trek" moments
QTE events are hit and miss
Action gameplay is clunky