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Star Trek: Resurgence

Star Trek: Resurgence

Written by Eric Hauter on 5/22/2023 for XBSX  
More On: Star Trek: Resurgence

As a lifelong Star Trek fan, I have been anxiously awaiting Star Trek: Resurgence since I first caught wind that the game was under development. Dramatic Labs, a new development house started by a cohort of ex-Telltale luminaries, aimed high when it chose to take on one of entertainment’s most storied franchises for its first release. The outcome is positive; for the most part, Resurgence lives up to my hopes and expectations, delivering a fantastic, epic Star Trek story featuring a great new cast and crew.

Though Star Trek: Resurgence is in somewhat rough shape technically, I can set all of that aside for a few moments and simply celebrate the heart of what Dramatic Labs has delivered here: perhaps the greatest Star Trek video game to date, at least in terms of understanding and respecting what makes the franchise so beloved. The people that made this game clearly know Star Trek. I daresay that they respect and follow the rules of the franchise more than some of the folks behind certain early seasons of recent Paramount Plus television series (cough, Picard S1&2, cough).

Star Trek: Resurgence takes place in the post-Next Generation era of Starfleet, during the time before Spock vanished into a time warp, while Riker was still buzzing sassily around on the U.S.S. Titan. Like that golden DS9/Voyager era of Star Trek, Resurgence focuses on what makes the franchise great. The game spends far more time on interpersonal relationships, diplomacy, and “teching the tech” than it does on space battles and phaser fights – though those elements do come into play as well. But science and discovery are the driving force here, with conflict only taking place to clear the way for more intellectual pursuits. Sometimes you gotta shoot dudes out of the way to access the terminal you need, is all I’m saying, and while Star Fleet doesn't pick fights it is more than capable of finishing them.

The sprawling story – which has enough twists and turns to fill a ten-episode season – focuses on two primary characters, while still finding the time to build out the rest of the crew. Jara Rydek is the new first officer aboard the U.S.S. Resolute, a newcomer among a crew that was recently traumatized when a warp experiment went awry, causing major damage to the ship. As the new blood coming in to replace her deceased predecessor, Rydek has a lot to prove to gain acceptance of the captain and crew alike - all of whom are still reeling from recent losses.  

Below decks, Petty Officer Carter Diaz is a wide-eyed charmer with a crooked smile. He works in engineering with his closest friend, Nili Edsilar, an un-joined Trill who is perfectly happy remaining that way. If the bridge crew is the brain of the ship, Diaz and Edsilar are often the player’s hands in the game, scurrying around Jeffries tubes and wrenching wall panels open, trying to keep the Resolute functioning well enough to meet the demands of the senior officers. It’s a fun dynamic to see Rydek and the bridge crew make decisions, then watch Diaz and Edsilar rise to the occasion to see those plans to fruition.

I’m not willing to give up too much of the story beyond the initial setup, which has the crew of the Resolute joined by Ambassador Spock on a peacekeeping mission when two planets that had been peacefully working together to mine dilithium are suddenly embroiled in an armed conflict. Sent as neutral moderators, the Star Fleet crew quickly find themselves in over their heads when they discover that the conflict is just the tip of a much deeper, much more dangerous situation. The story has deep roots in Trek lore, expanding the story of a Next Gen episode in a way that makes sense and feels organic.

What starts as a “Spock uses diplomacy” episode quickly spirals into a “Oh lord, we have to save the entirety of civilization against an unspeakably powerful enemy and their ship is giant and ours is tiny and the warp drive is down and they are siphoning our power and photon torpedoes are useless and we’re all alone and ancient artifacts are involved and oh no that one officer is permanently disfigured because of my decisions and she was kind of irritating but she didn't deserve to have her face look like that and everyone hates me and I just shot my partner and I didn’t mean to do that but she was kind of being uncool” sort of situation. In other words, the story is a total hoot, resulting in a big, epic-feeling Star Trek adventure that, if considered canon, presents some wide-ranging ramifications for the franchise as a whole.

The thing that I found most impressive about Star Trek: Resurgence was the ability of the game's Telltale-style storytelling to just roll with my sometimes-questionable decision-making, while still feeling like a “real” Star Trek story. The game doesn’t exactly allow players to run around doing villainous deeds, but some of the moral quandaries it presents do allow for some knee-jerk misbehavior that would be frowned upon by Star Fleet.

Did I talk smack to Spock? Did I break some dude’s arm to get information out of him? Did I take a potshot at someone as they were transporting away just because they had been getting on my nerves? Did I press the wrong button and accidentally kill a member of my bridge crew when I only meant to stun him? Why yes, I did indeed do these things. But somehow, Resurgence was able to fold my actions into the narrative in a way that makes sense in the context of the story, while still keeping to the “rules” of Star Trek.

A fun feature of Star Trek: Resurgence allows players to pause the game at any point and check their standing with the rest of the cast - an expansion on the old panic-inducing "Hershel will remember that" ploy from the Telltale days. It's interesting to see how people take your off-the-cuff remarks to heart, and I was particularly horrified when I accidentally behaved in a cavalier manner in front of Spock, gaining his disapproval. Every Trek fan's nightmare is to have Spock slightly frown in their direction. 

I was also impressed with the performances of the cast. The guy that they’ve got playing “old Spock” is absolutely slaying a Nimoy impression, to the point where (and I acknowledge that this is sad) I thought that he might be an AI voice bot using the real Nimoy's voice. The main players are stellar, but the rest of the cast is just as good. A lot of the alien delegation members, who could have just been throwaway characters, make an impression, with performances that are just as strong as the supporting Star Fleet cast.

So yes, I really love the story that the game presents, and I can’t heap enough praise on the ambition and coherence of the narrative. Star Trek: Resurgence is a 10/10 in that regard. I’m looking forward to playing through it again, making different choices to see how things shake out. But there are some technical issues with Star Trek: Resurgence that, as much as I would like to, simply can’t be overlooked.

It’s a given that Dramatic Labs is using a new engine here, and as such, Star Trek: Resurgence represents something of a “shakedown cruise” for the developer. There are some stellar moments where the game offers up some great Star Trek-style cinematography, with the camera sweeping through the bridge to tightly focus on a character in a tense moment. But for every moment like this, there is another where a character walks across the screen like a marionette that doesn’t have enough joints. For every grand moment when a character shows emotion with an expressively animated face, there is another where someone transports with an away team and their eyeballs remain on the transporter pad just a moment longer than the rest of their body (which is creepy as hell).

Beyond that, the game is still experiencing some audio difficulties, including sections where the dialogue starts clipping and skipping, making the characters sound as though they are calling to the player through a WWII-era walkie-talkie. There is also one stealth mission that is strangely silent, where the sound effects appear to be missing in action. There were also a few moments where the game simply refused to acknowledge my entering the prompts needed to advance the story, leading to my crashing the game and reloading.

Those issues can be fixed with post-release patches. More problematic are the ways that Star Trek’s primary tools of the trade are implemented in the game. Both phasers and tricorders are deeply problematic in the ways they function in Resurgence.

The phaser-shooting sections of Resurgence – while infrequent – are broken to the point of being unplayable. Targeting is next to impossible, and there are sections where the camera is positioned in a way that you can’t even see your targets. Popping out of cover will instantly get you phasered before you can get off a shot, leading to some deeply frustrating battles, which get worse and worse the further you get into the game. Luckily, the game offers the ability to complete these sections in “Story Mode”, which basically means “turn off the ability to die”. I strongly recommend doing so.

Tricorder sections, on the other hand, are functional, just kinda boring. It’s not that they are poorly implemented, and I understand why the developers felt that they should be in the game; they are an important part of Star Trek lore, and scientific investigation is a primary tenant of the franchise. But in practice, Tricorder segments turn into something of a pixel hunt, with players wandering around an area looking for the last item they need to “scan”. It feels very dated, like something you would have done in a C64 game.

Stealth sections are also a bit borked, again due to camera issues. More often than not, I couldn't see the enemies I was trying to avoid. In the end, I would just put my head down and run through the sections, hoping for the best. This worked about 80% of the time.

So yes, some technical and design issues that, as a reviewer, I am obligated to call out and consider. But does that mean that I don’t recommend Star Trek: Resurgence? Of course not. I absolutely recommend this game to all Star Trek fans, as well as fans of episodic adventure games. The writing, performances, and overall respect for the Star Trek franchise all but drown out the issues I experienced. When I think back on Star Trek: Resurgence, I won’t be pondering the weird phaser mechanics, I’ll be reliving the kick-ass story.

I would encourage folks to buy Star Trek: Resurgence both because it is a very entertaining game, but also to support a new studio that is taking an enormous swing. Frankly, as soon as this team is finished relaxing after the launch of this game, I would love to see them get started on a much-needed sequel. The Federation, some starships, and many characters are left in quite a state at the end of Resurgence, and while the U.S.S Resolute is allowed to warp away in a moment of glory at the end of the game, these problems aren’t going to fix themselves. Star Fleet’s greatest new crew needs to swoop back around for another adventure and do some clean-up. The crew members that I didn’t accidentally kill, that is.  

The technical issues in Star Trek: Resurgence unfortunately detract slightly from what is possibly the truest Star Trek video game ever made. This is a game that knows and respects the franchise, delivering an epic story with a great new ship and crew. The branching story elements and performances carry the day, but some of the interactive segments stumble. Regardless, the game is highly recommended for fans of both Trek and interactive storytelling.  

Rating: 7.4 Above Average

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.

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About Author

Howdy.  My name is Eric Hauter, and I am a dad with a ton of kids.  During my non-existent spare time, I like to play a wide variety of games, including JRPGs, strategy and action games (with the occasional trip into the black hole of MMOs). I am intrigued by the prospect of cloud gaming, and am often found poking around the cloud various platforms looking for fun and interesting stories.  I was an early adopter of PSVR (I had one delivered on release day), and I’ve enjoyed trying out the variety of games that have released since day one. I've since added an Oculus Quest 2 and PS VR2 to my headset collection.  I’m intrigued by the possibilities presented by VR multi-player, and I try almost every multi-player game that gets released.

My first system was a Commodore 64, and I’ve owned countless systems since then.  I was a manager at a toy store for the release of PS1, PS2, N64 and Dreamcast, so my nostalgia that era of gaming runs pretty deep.  Currently, I play on Xbox Series X, Series S, PS5, PS4, PS VR2, Quest 2, Switch, Luna, GeForce Now, (RIP Stadia) and a super sweet gaming PC built by John Yan.  While I lean towards Sony products, I don’t have any brand loyalty, and am perfectly willing to play game on other systems.

When I’m not playing games or wrangling my gaggle of children, I enjoy watching horror movies and doing all the other geeky activities one might expect. I also co-host the Chronologically Podcast, where we review every film from various filmmakers in order, which you can find wherever you get your podcasts.

Follow me on Twitter @eric_hauter, and check out my YouTube channel here

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