At this year's GDC, I had the chance to sit down with Dramatic Labs, an indie studio founded by former Telltale developers, and play a brief demo of Star Trek: Resurgence. As someone who played most of the Telltale games before the studio shuttered — and who has watched a healthy amount of Trek over the years — I was curious to see how well the two would mesh.
Resurgence is a narrative adventure game set in 2380 between Star Trek: Nemesis and Picard on the Prime timeline. In plainer terms, it's set after most of the main series and can safely pull in cameos of characters like Spock without conflicting with other storylines.
In the demo, I played as half-Kobliad First Officer Jara and human Engineer Carter as they approached a system requiring mediation from Starfleet. The Alydians gifted the Hotari with technology that helped extract valuable resources, but reap most of the profits while compelling the Hotari to remain a constant lower-class labor force. Now the Hotari are resisting the status quo, and Jara must assist her captain and Ambassador Spock in lowering tensions and uncovering the true spark behind this growing conflict.
The Star Trek shows often tackled real-world issues through allegorical conflicts. The difference with Resurgence is that you'll choose how your character responds to these issues, which will shape the resolution.
Jara is the new second-in-command for the Resolute, which went through tragedy six months ago. Carter must help get the ship back to fighting shape, as the system they're heading to is experiencing a strange phenomenon that renders their defenses all but useless. He's also likely to experience some action in the game, whether it's piloting shuttles or getting into phaser fights.
Telltale Games used its own engine, which was notoriously buggy and held back the gameplay beyond timed dialogue and QTEs. Star Trek: Resurgence uses Unreal Engine, which will unlock more gameplay mechanics and minigames than before.
Still, most of the demo gameplay was fundamentally similar to past games: you pick one of three dialogue options, then walk around and point-and-select objects or people to learn information or progress the story. I'm curious to see whether Dramatic Labs can deliver a more polished and well-rounded experience beyond dialogue. Unfortunately, I didn't get to see any proper action, so we'll have to wait and see.
As in any Telltale game, characters in Resurgence will remember your dialogue choices, which will come into play in later scenes. The devs told me they hadn't decided if they'll include a "Spock will remember that" prompt in the final product; during the demo, I had to assume any answer could have some kind of lasting impact.
For instance, your captain asks definitively for your loyalty during tough situations, which I agreed to; that might come to haunt me later if he makes a fundamentally flawed decision and I must either enable him or disobey orders. But as a mere 15-minute demo focusing on multiple characters, I didn't get deep enough into the story to judge how pivotal your choices will actually be. Some Telltale games had a tendency to force players towards specific conclusions and make choices feel superficial, and I'm hoping Resurgence avoids that.
Unlike Telltale games and the Star Trek TV shows, Star Trek: Resurgence will arrive in one complete package and tell one long-form story. In the past, Telltale would release early episodes before completing them all, which meant they couldn't retcon the story if they decided to change the ending later. By releasing in one burst, the Dramatic Labs devs said, it allowed them to tell a more cohesive story than before, with early choices seeding directly through the rest of the story.
I asked the devs whether Resurgence was inspired by one Star Trek series in particular, and they explained that they paid homage to most of them in designing the ship, including some newer touches from Discovery. Little moments like pouring yourself coffee from the replicator are clearly designed as fan service for those who love all things Trek. But it's also standalone, so you should be able to enjoy it even without an encyclopedic knowledge of Trek history.
On the other hand, when asked what "Resurgence" referred to, the devs told me that would be a spoiler. That made me wonder if the title refers to a dangerous foe or species from the past making a reappearance. Trekkies may get some enjoyment investigating the conflict, trying to catch clues as to what's really happening behind the scenes.
Overall, considering I was playing an unfinished game build, Star Trek: Resurgence felt fairly polished. It doesn't have Horizon Forbidden West levels of realistic graphics, but characters' faces look fairly realistic and lifelike, and the voice acting was solid enough so far. Trekkies will enjoy it for whatever lore and character cameos it reveals, and fans of story-driven games will appreciate a return to Telltale's roots without all the baggage. We just have to hope the final product lives up to the promise when it arrives later this year.
Star Trek: Resurgence will be available on the Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, PS4, and PC through the Epic Games Store. We'll have to wait and see whether it can number among the best Xbox games available when it arrives later this year.
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Michael is the Senior Editor of VR and fitness tech at sister-site Android Central, but happily lends his help to the Windows Central team for games coverage.