It can be difficult to take situations seriously in a tense adventure game when the most grave moments are accompanied by the voice acting for the first two or three words in a sentence repeating, amorphous blobs of “energy” popping in, and unnecessary quick time events (QTEs). Unfortunately, that’s exactly what I faced in the PS4 version of Star Trek Resurgence. Poignant moments could be punctuated by unnecessary inputs. Character expressions became comical.
First, Star Trek Resurgence takes place around the same time as The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine. The USS Resolute and its crew went through a lot. A warp core experiment led to an accident and malfunction that killed multiple people. The ship itself ended up practically torn apart. It’s about to head out on a diplomatic mission to hopefully stop a war between two normally peaceful groups. Players follow this process through two viewpoints. One is Engineer Carter Diaz, a human who was a member of the crew when the incident happened. The other is the new First Officer Jara Rydeck. She’s a new staff member taking over someone who died in the tragedy and faces some opposition both due to being a replacement and a member of the Kobliad race that will essentially die without a proper and consistent supply of deuridium. (If you followed Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, you’re aware of the scarcity of that.)
In many ways, Star Trek Resurgence does feel like classic Telltale Games titles. The designs are close to human, but get into an uncanny valley place where they aren’t quite there. Your mileage may vary depending on how much you like them, but I wasn’t a fan of characters’ appearances on the PS4. The story is the full focus, with typically three possible responses to any situation. These aren’t clearly good, bad, or neutral ones. Rather, they can seem contextual or personality-driven. Between these responses, perhaps to keep it from feeling too much like a “visual novel,” you’ll occasionally need to explore locations or perform QTEs to perform important actions like dodge a deadly attack or… sit down. It varies, as you might imagine.
I also had moments when it felt like maybe the decisions I was choosing didn’t result in the reactions I expected. Star Trek Resurgence is one of those adventure games where the text you select might not be voiced or expressed in the exact way you’d expect. As an early example, I chose a Jara response that I hoped would be a diplomatic and genuine, “thank you for being concerned about my health and wellbeing” to Commander Westbrook. Instead, it was more sarcastic. Likewise, the Your Crew section of the menu offers updates on how people pertinent to Jara or Carter feel about their recent decisions. However, even though I ended a specific incident with everyone involved approving of how I handled things, the ensuing story segment involved suggestions that multiple people disapproved. However, I suppose it didn’t always matter. While yes, there are decisions that I could see would leave an impact on the plot and were big, it also felt like I didn’t always see consequences for my actions or that some choices I made were as pointless as deciding what drink Jara should order from the replicator when she’s on the Resolute.
However, at least the minor dialogue choices not reflecting could be bugs. I encountered so many audio issues, for example. The most prevalent one would be the first two to four words in a character’s line repeating, causing the rest of their thought to eventually be cut short. (Turn on subtitles, or else you’ll miss quite a bit.) Some familiar sound effects, like being hailed, came in too quiet, while tricorders somehow sounded too loud. Issues aren’t limited to how the game sounds, though. It seemed like the lighting would often be off, causing models to be too dull or washed out and losing all detail in the process.
But while the bugs are ones that could be fixed with patches, the insistence on inserting unnecessary QTEs or dull exploration segments felt far more damaging. When I’d get invested in the plot, I’d abruptly find myself dealing with needing to move an icon within a sphere while dealing with fiddly controls. It ruined the moment. However, one of the worst instances happened early on, when Carter needed to align a glowing circle with an exclamation point in the center of other circles. That meant using the pull and physics from pressing R2 on one of six nodes to try and get it to fall in the exact spot. It trashed any hope of immersing myself in the moment.
I’m genuinely disappointed. Star Trek seems perfect for a narrative-heavy adventure game, and Star Trek Resurgence’s bugs, design, and QTEs keep people from getting properly invested. I don’t regret my time with the game, and I did enjoy the tale it told. However it’s executed in such a sloppy fashion and littered with issues that draws a player’s attention away from what matters.
Star Trek Resurgence is available on the PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and PC.