Certain franchises lend themselves better to one genre or another. For example, you wouldn’t look for a Fast and the Furious strategy game just as much as you would expect a combat-oriented Star Wars Jedi game like Fallen Order. Star Trek is, bizarrely, a world that has been painted onto numerous genres rather well, from the excellent 2000 first-person shooter Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force to the still-running MMORPG, Star Trek Online. The latest core-gamer-aimed effort from The Next Generation’s 24th century era is Star Trek: Resurgence, which seems to be a perfect fit for Trek as a narrative adventure game, made by a group of ex-Telltale developers at Dramatic Labs who have proven themselves quite good at what they do.
Dramatic Labs is headed by Kevin Bruner, the Telltale founder whose roots in the adventure game genre trace back to his days working on Grim Fandango and Monkey Island at LucasArts. He had a heck of a run at Telltale, but Bruner and the Dramatic Labs team aim to make some noticeable improvements for Resurgence. First among them is the graphics engine; Telltale’s engine was famously long in the tooth long before the company shut down, so Bruner and the team partnered with Epic, and as such Resurgence uses the much prettier Unreal Engine.
The technical structure of the game isn’t the only thing that differs from the Telltale days; the gameplay structure does too. Resurgence will be released as one complete game rather than in episodic chunks that release weeks or months apart. Bruner lamented to me during our conversation that players often felt compelled to finish an entire 1-2-hour Telltale episode in one sitting, lest the return and feel lost due to the stories being structured around those longer blocks. Resurgence, as described by lead writer Dan Martin, will be like a chapter book with around 50 chapters, making each chunk of the story much smaller and easily digestible for those who want to enjoy this Star Trek narrative adventure at their own pace.
But as for that narrative itself, there is yet another key difference between what Dramatic Labs is doing with Resurgence and what the Telltale teams did with their games: offering the player more exploratory freedom. The team tells me that many areas of the ship are being modeled for the player to roam when there are scenes set there, from the bridge to engineering to the shuttle bay and many others. And that’s just on board the U.S.S. Resolute starship your two playable characters call home. Bruner told me that the physically biggest sections of the game are where you’re on alien worlds and in alien ships, so you won’t be confined to your Starfleet vessel the entire game. Far from it. In fact, early on, Lt. Commander Chovak summons you, as Carter Diaz, along with your friend and lower-deck colleague Edsilar, down to suit up in order to walk out on the hull and investigate the bizarre space anomaly the ship finds itself adjacent to. (Naturally, he begins by being as annoyed with you as a Vulcan can get for being “almost” late to your shift.)
Meanwhile, another section of the game I saw put you in control of Resurgence’s other playable character, Commander Jara Rydek, during a briefing not just with senior staff, but with Ambassador Spock himself. The first thing you’ll likely notice about everyone’s favorite Vulcan is how uncannily he sounds like Leonard Nimoy. Martin told me the team had “hundreds” of auditions and the actor who got the part (who Dramatic Labs will announce later) was “head and shoulders” above everyone else. You can hear why.
Since this is a narrative adventure game, you’ll have ample choice in how to respond to your crewmates and superiors. Your story might play out differently than a friend who makes other dialogue choices, but Dramatic Labs was clear that this is a shared story but a customized one, and as such there’s contrast between the fates of characters based on your choices. That said, everyone goes to the same planets. The team likes the relationship dynamics and the roleplaying within a story. They told me that they didn’t want a narrative structure that was “branchy for the sake of being branchy.”
In all, Resurgence is exactly the kind of game I want from the diplomacy-heavy Star Trek franchise – though yes, there will be phaser usage and other action as well in order to keep the gameplay on its toes. Star Trek: Resurgence will be out later this year on PC via the Epic Games Store along with PlayStation and Xbox platforms.
Ryan McCaffrey is IGN’s executive editor of previews and host of both IGN’s weekly Xbox show, Podcast Unlocked, as well as our monthly(-ish) interview show, IGN Unfiltered. He’s a North Jersey guy, so it’s “Taylor ham,” not “pork roll.” Debate it with him on Twitter at @DMC_Ryan.
Source: IGN Video Games All