As a long-time fan of the franchise, I was excited to hear that Star Trek: Resurgence from Dramatic Labs would be bringing a new story set just after the events of Star Trek: Nemesis to PC, PS4, PS5, and Xbox Series X. Part of my gaming teeth were cut on early-to-mid 90s games like Star Trek: 25th Anniversary, Judgment Rites, and A Final Unity, so I was curious what a Star Trek adventure game would look like almost two decades later.
In the 90s through the early 2000s, we saw a bevy of terrific Star Trek video games released on various platforms. However, things have been pretty bleak since Activision lost the license in 2003. In 2023, if you want a Trek gaming fix, you can choose between Star Trek Online or a handful of Gatcha titles. So, there’s a lot of pressure on Resurgence from fans.
All hands on deck
In Star Trek: Resurgence, you play as two characters:
The first, Commander Jara Rydek, is arriving to fill the first officer post on the USS Resolute that was opened when the previous XO died. The game picks up a few months after the prequel comic series ends, and Hydek joins a shaken and distrustful crew. Many of them blame the ship’s captain, Zachary Solano, for the incident that severely damaged the Resolute and killed the previous first officer. Many also resent that he brought an outsider in to become XO instead of promoting from within. Playing as Rydek, you’ll have to navigate the crew’s misgivings and decide whether Captain Solano is being unfairly judged or is incompetent and a danger to the ship.
When not facing the trials and tribulations of being a senior officer on the upper decks, you’ll take the role of Petty Officer Carter Diaz down in the bowels of the Resolute. His focus is on the engineering and slice-of-life aspects of living on a starship, and you’ll be responsible for helping perform basic maintenance and diagnostic tasks.
After being refit, the Resolute’s first mission is to mediate a conflict between two races. At first glance, it appears that one has used its technological superiority to subjugate the other. However, a chance appearance of an intense ion storm has negated that advantage and allowed the more primitive race to throw off the yoke of their oppressors. The famed Ambassador Spock himself is coming along to help with the negotiations, and despite the two species’ history, it looks like it’ll be a fairly straightforward diplomatic mission. However, it becomes evident that things aren’t as simple as they seem, and the ion storm has properties that haven’t been seen before.
The story is the highlight in Resurgence, and it does a great job of capturing the feeling of an episode of TNG. However, the inclusion of Spock is a bit much. It’s 2380 in the game, and the Romulan Senate was just assassinated a year before. It would make more sense for Spock to be on Romulus helping the Unification movement than for him to mediate a conflict between two random non-Federation members.
Visually, Star Trek: Resurgence is a mixed bag. The art direction is great, and you can tell that fans of the franchise are behind it. The USS Resolute, being made up of surplus Excelsior and Miranda-class parts, is a blend of narrower, segmented corridors from the TOS-era movies and the bright, carpeted aesthetic of the Galaxy-class. Most Star Trek productions center around the latest and greatest vessels, and it’s interesting to get another look at life on one of the fleet’s workhorses.
That being said, everything is pretty blue. The Resolute’s interior is primarily based on the Excelsior as seen in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country and the Voyager episode “Flashback.” As such, Dramatic Labs has stuck with a similar interior design. For some reason, instead of getting an upgrade to the latest LCARS, it retained the blue input system that the Enterprise-A and Excelsior were equipped with. Because the game is stylized and uses exaggerated colors, the amount of blue can be overwhelming sometimes. It seems like Dramatic Labs was going for a comic book aesthetic, and it doesn’t quite pull it off. Instead, it comes off as a mask for a budget game that needed about six months longer in the oven.
Ultimately, Resurgence’s biggest issue overall is its animations. The stilted walking and odd hand movements were immersion-breaking throughout. I didn’t expect each role to be fully motion captured, but they should be at least somewhat lifelike. Dramatic Studio was founded by ex-Telltale employees, so the expertise should be there. Often, the result is that serious scenes end up coming off as farcical because of some strange movement or facial expression from a character.
Unfortunately, Resurgence has technical shortcomings that are impossible to look past. I played on PC, so here’s a brief rundown of my specs:
- CPU: Intel i9-13900K
- GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090
- RAM: 64GB G.Skill Trident Z5 DDR5 6400 Memory
- SSD: Samsung 990 Pro 2TB m.2
Even on what’s pretty much the highest-end hardware available right now, I ran into performance issues. There was infrequent stuttering, Level of Detail glitches, pop-in, and more. Subtitles also frequently fail to trigger properly, which is a major accessibility problem.
Additionally, on PC, there were no options to raise the resolution further than 1080p and no way to adjust any graphics settings or framerate. One of the PC biggest strengths as a platform is that you can tune your gaming experience to your requirements, but that’s not the case here.
On the upside, controller support worked well. But, I found myself unable to quit the game when using it. For some reason, I could return to the main menu with a mouse and keyboard, but when trying to do the same with a controller, the game would freeze, and I’d have to close it with task manager.
Overall, it feels like the PC port could have used several more months in production. Of course, it’s possible a day-one patch could solve one or more of these issues, but we’ll have to wait to see if that’s the case.
Star Trek Resurgence review: The Final Verdict
Resurgence is a game that’s hard to review. As a fan of the franchise, I appreciate the attention to detail and the effort required to bottle the nostalgia of 90s Trek. However, despite being an enjoyable experience on its own, I have to wonder how much of my perception of the game was colored by my love for TNG, DS9, and Voyager. At times it felt as though I were seeing through a glass, darkly, ignoring faults so I could be transported back to the golden age of Trek. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does give some context for those who aren’t into that era of the franchise.
Unfortunately, Resurgence’s technical and quality issues mean it’s not a great introduction to Star Trek. Luckily, many older Star Trek titles that are friendlier for newcomers are now available on GOG.com, and they’ve been updated to work on modern PCs. So, if you’re new to Trek and want to see what the gaming side of the franchise has to offer, I suggest starting elsewhere.
As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 6 equates to “Decent.” It fails to reach its full potential and is a run-of-the-mill experience.
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