Let me start this Star Trek: Resurgence review by saying I am familiar with the Star Trek universe. Since my mother is an avid fan of the sci-fi series, I’d catch episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager growing up. My favorite of the original Star Trek movies is Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home because it featured whales, and I still constantly refer to anything round and fuzzy as a tribble! Admittedly, I’m still catching up on the newer Star Trek series, but I’ve enjoyed what I’ve seen of them. Because of my Star Trek fondness, I was intrigued by the narrative adventure game Star Trek: Resurgence when first announced. Finally getting the chance to play the title, I am pleasantly surprised by what I uncovered. Resurgence is not only a solid game, but it’s easily one of the best of the recent Star Trek narratives I’ve experienced thus far. It offers a compelling sci-fi tale with believable characters, capturing the heart of the Star Trek series. It isn’t a flawless gaming experience, but its strengths are strong selling points.
Star Trek: Resurgence tells its tale from two different character perspectives aboard the Starfleet research vessel, the U.S.S. Resolute. Players are put into the dual roles of Jara Rydek and Carter Diaz throughout the story, switching between the two every other chapter. Occasionally their paths overlap, which occurs more frequently as the plot deepens. First Officer Jara Rydek is a half-Kobliad who joined the Resolute’s crew following a tragic warp core testing accident. At the same time, Petty Officer Carter Diaz is a human crewmember working on the ship’s lower decks. He’s “away” from the big decisions on the bridge but still a vital cog in the machine. Unfortunately, Jara doesn’t have time to adjust to her new surroundings before the Resolute is on its way to its next mission. During a fierce ion storm, two alien species fighting over resources threaten war. As representatives of the United Federation of Planets, the Resolute’s crew must meet a decorated Federation ambassador trying to negotiate peace between the opposing factions.
However, that’s just scratching the surface of what is going on behind the scenes, and it isn’t long before a plot that could very well threaten the lives of everyone in the galaxy gets uncovered. I could spend hours discussing the plot for Star Trek: Resurgence, the title’s most robust feature. Resurgence presents itself authentically to the Star Trek universe, feeling at home in its mythos. The game is akin to playing through an interactive season of one of the T.V. shows, a sentiment further conveyed by the fact that the narrative gets broken into more minor “episodes.” I can easily picture Resurgence fitting into the Star Trek canon, and how the story builds upon itself with every new reveal is quite compelling.
Decisions players make as either Jara or Carter have a lasting impact, whether it be in how the story advances or in how a character might view them later on down the road. For instance, I tended to play Carter as a more humble and somewhat naive character. I made him encourage his friend Nili, understand his curtly logical superior Chovak, and even start a romance between him and security officer Miranda (because, come on, when am I going to pass up on romance?). I was surprised at how much my responses as Carter impacted story events. Meanwhile, I tended to view Jara as a more driven character, wanting to do what is right even if it puts her at odds with others in the crew. In my playthrough, she butted heads with Captain Solano on policy, mainly concerning safety matters. However, she also tried to keep as many people alive as possible under tense circumstances.
By the end, Jara had just as many allies as she had detractors amongst the crew based on my decisions, since I could never please everyone. For instance, choosing not to shoot a character during one crucial scene has repercussions, as does opting to spare an adversary. Gaining someone’s support through agreeing with their tactics can quickly fall apart depending on how you react to a later plot point, such as when deciding who to appoint to a high-ranking position. Saving some characters can lead to injury or worse for others, not to mention impacting what ultimately happens with their narrative paths later on. Seeing how plot points connect is brought up in different ways when playing as both Carter and Jara, and exploring that narrative duality is interesting and thought-provoking.
Regarding my personal game decision-making, I tended to gravitate toward the ideals the Federation is supposed to embody. Still, I appreciate that there’s no “wrong or right” way to approach the game’s many choice-making situations. No matter what, you’ll always find support and disagreement in equal measure with its cast.
It certainly doesn’t hurt that Star Trek: Resurgence‘s cast is full of likable and relatable characters. Jara and Carter are compelling main characters you instantly want to root for. I enjoyed seeing them develop relationship dynamics with other cast members. The “found family” dynamic prevalent throughout the lower decks crew of Chovak, Carter, and Nili is heartwarming. I love how Nili and Carter get adopted by a fierce, older alien soldier despite his preferences. In my playthrough, Jara’s bonding with Doctor Duvall and Commander Urmott and her burgeoning rapport with the helpful Hotari named Tylas was great to see. However, I felt emotional the more fractured her dynamic became with Solano, Westbrook, and Bedrosian due to their disagreeing with her actions. As a Star Trek follower, seeing fan favorites Spock and Riker again was a delight. I especially loved the character development that the enigmatic and mighty Portal 63 received in my playthrough. All of the main characters in Resurgence were incredibly fleshed out and nuanced.
Decision and dialogue points in Star Trek: Resurgence are timed, though they give you ample enough time to decide what you’ll say or do, so it never feels too rushed. Many actions, such as picking up a specific item or rolling with a physical blow during a fight scene, are quick-time events, though I never found these QTEs too challenging to complete. You occasionally have puzzles to complete, such as triangulating transporters or hidden object finds via tricorder scanning, but the puzzles are generally straightforward. The puzzles are varied throughout, such as shuttle piloting through ion storm interference in a “rails” type puzzle where you try to keep on course while avoiding hazards. The game does provide stealth and phaser fight segments where you must duck and cover. Even though I’m not the best with shooting mechanics, I found these segments were relatively forgiving, especially given that you can opt to retry these portions should you fail the first time in “story mode.”
The voice acting direction for Star Trek: Resurgence is phenomenal. I’ve heard several voice actors in other projects before, but their work in Resurgence is probably some of their strongest performances! Jara’s and Carter’s voice actors, in particular, do a fantastic job with the emotional range they convey throughout their many lines. Still, I’m impressed by the overall quality of the voice work throughout the game. Speaking of returning characters, I appreciated hearing Jonathan Frakes reprise his Riker role. Special note also goes to Piotr Michael’s portrayal of Ambassador Spock, as his cadence is remarkably similar to the late Leonard Nimoy’s portrayal of the iconic character. The sound effects and music are also on par for a Star Trek title, helping to hit home just what series Resurgence is an adaptation of.
Graphically, the game looks terrific in closeups and still shots. However, there are some major graphical hiccups, like scenes freezing momentarily. I’d love to say this was a minor occurrence, but it happened so frequently that I worried the game would freeze entirely and never restart. There’s also a lot of stuttering during intense action sequences, which takes you right out of the immersive experience. In addition, the audio sometimes cuts out, or lines get unintentionally repeated. The game has options for easy-to-read subtitles, which, while a great accessibility feature, occasionally don’t match the spoken dialogue, and there were some instances where the subtitles disappeared entirely. Finally, Resurgence auto-saves in some weird places, making it hard to find a stopping point. If you miss the auto-save symbol in some episode segments, you could quit the game and have to restart from either the beginning of the episode, between stages of a phaser fight, or another inopportune moment. I’d usually wait until I reached the beginning of a new “episode” and then quit. A manual save option could have avoided that particular annoyance. These mishaps are a shame, as they hinder an otherwise solid title. Note that my experiences are based on the PS4 version, so experiences on other platforms may vary.
Star Trek: Resurgence is a remarkable narrative adventure game set in a classic space opera universe. I’m incredibly impressed by its scope and the well-written story it conveys. Like an interactive Star Trek show, Resurgence is a game where your decisions have a real impact. I enjoyed playing this title even as I acknowledge the weak points holding it back, mainly its graphical hiccups. Still, Star Trek fans should give Star Trek: Resurgence a try, though, as should any adventure game fans who like sci-fi too. I hope this isn’t the last we see of the U.S.S. Resolute and her crew!