Star Trek Resurgence (still) seems like it truly understands the franchise

Thanks to my dad, I’ve been watching Star Trek for as long as I can remember. I grew up on The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager. (For reasons I do not understand, I decided as a young child that I was a big Miles O’Brien fan.) Though I haven’t tried out Discovery or Strange New Worlds so far, and though I gave up on Picard after a single episode, my love of ’90s-era Trek remains firmly intact.

I say that so you know where I’m coming from when I say that I’m really looking forward to Star Trek Resurgence after playing a few short segments at Summer Game Fest Play Days.

What’s difficult about recounting my my hands-on experience is that, while I played through different sections of the game than EGM editor Michael Goroff saw during his earlier preview, my takeaway is almost identical to his: This is a game that gets Star Trek. If that’s all the reassurance you’re looking for, rest assured that two EGMers have come away impressed.

Developer Dramatic Labs has of course nailed the setting when it comes to the obvious stuff: the look of the ships, uniforms, and computer interfaces. The studio’s even done a great job of recreating that classic Star Trek jog, for when the crew needs to get somewhere in a hurry without getting those Starfleet onesies sweaty.

More important than any of that, though, is that the scope and focus of the story feels right, at least so far.

If you’re not up to speed on the basics, Resurgence follows the crew of the Federation starship Resolute as they attempt to negotiate peace between two alien races, the Hotari and Alydians, who are in conflict over a dilithium mine on a moon orbiting the Hotari homeworld. The game splits its story between two playable characters: Jara Rydek, the half-Kobliad first officer of the Resolute, and Carter Diaz, an engineering grunt on the lower decks.

I played through three gameplay segments during my demo, two with Diaz and one with Jara, which offered (I think) a pretty clear look at how the stories will intertwine. While Jara, as an officer on the bridge, may be involved in the peace talks, it’s Diaz’s work as a normal member of the ship’s crew that will help uncover a deeper conspiracy at play.

The first Diaz scene I played served as a pretty basic tutorial for walking around and engaging in dialogue, establishing friction between Diaz and his Vulcan supervisor, the Lieutenant Commander Chovak. If there’s one thing that surprised me from the jump, it’s the game gave me a great deal of freedom over how Diaz would express his frustration with Chovak, from weary deference to smartass remarks. (One guess which way I went with it).

Games in the Telltale vein—and Dramatic Labs has quite a few Telltale vets on staff—tend to value character highly, but I find it can be tough for interactive narratives to balance player choice with a chance for characters to grow within the story. I’m optimistic that my version of Diaz, at least at the start, can be a less-than-perfect crew member, since it means his inevitable need to step up later in the story will feel like more of a complete arc.

That being said, the second scene I played, featuring Jara at negotiations between the Hotari queen and Alydian emissaries, seemed to portend a great deal of control over the bigger aspects of the story, too. I chose to make Jara stand up to the (in my defense, pretty rude) Hotari leader, refusing to bow on meeting her and speaking up when she had an opinion. In the end, the queen asked me how I’d personally settle the conflict, and I made sure Jara took sides—not exactly the model of Federation neutrality. It’s the sort of thing that makes me deeply curious to play the full game through, if not more than once, because it seems like it should have some dramatic consequences.

The final chapter I played through confirmed that Resurgence will have at least some gameplay segments that go beyond walking and talking. As Diaz, I had to fly a shuttlecraft through an asteroid field to plant trackers, in the hopes of discovering the source of an energy field that had been interfering with the Resolute‘s warp drive. The flying wasn’t exactly high-octane or thrilling—but this is Star Trek, so it’s rare that it would be. Instead, it was mostly a chance to bond with Ben Westbrook, a science officer who felt he should’ve gotten the first officer post instead of Jara.

Despite the relatively low stakes of the flying itself, the chapter ended with one heck of a cliffhanger: The spacetime phenomenon messing with the Resolute doesn’t seem like a natural phenomenon, and it seems to be coming from the moon at the heart of the negotiations. In other words, someone’s trapped the ship here.

Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the game is going to escalate to full-scale space battles or phaser shootouts, but it certainly does pave the way for a mix of action and diplomacy that would suit the multi-episode arcs Resurgence is turning to for inspiration. The stakes are just high enough to work. No one’s saving the galaxy (I assume), but the fate of the crew and two civilizations hang in the balance.

Like I said, Dramatic Labs sure seems to get Star Trek. I can only hope the rest of the game keeps pace and delivers its on immense promise to expand the franchise.

Star Trek Resurgence launches later this year on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows PC.

Check out all our Summer Game Fest Play Days 2022 coverage.

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