As a longtime fan of the franchise, I was thrilled to hear that Star Trek: Resurgence from Dramatic Labs would bring a new story set right after the events of Star Trek: Nemesis on PC, PS4, PS5 and Xbox Series X. Some 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 nearly two decades later.
In the 90s through the early 2000s, we saw a slew of great Star Trek video games released on various platforms. However, things have been pretty grim since Activision lost the license in 2003. In 2023, if you want a Trek game fix, you can choose between Star Trek Online or a handful of Gatcha titles. So there’s a lot of pressure on Resurgence from the fans.
Everyone on the bridge
In Star Trek: Resurgence, you play as two characters:
The first, Commander Jara Rydek, arrives to fill the position of first officer on the USS Resolute which was opened upon the death of the previous XO. The game picks up a few months after the prequel comic series ended, and Hydek joins a shaken and suspicious team. Many blame the ship’s captain, Zachary Solano, for the incident that severely damaged the Resolute and killed the former first officer. Many also resent the fact that he brought in an outsider to become XO instead of promoting from within. As Rydek, you’ll have to navigate the misgivings of the crew and decide if Captain Solano is being judged unfairly or if he’s incompetent and a danger to the ship.
When you’re not facing the trials and tribulations of being a senior officer on the upper decks, you play Master Master Carter Diaz in the bowels of the Resolute. It focuses on the engineering and slice-of-life aspects of life on a spacecraft, and you will be tasked with helping perform basic maintenance and diagnostic tasks.
After being refitted, the Resolute’s first mission is to mediate a conflict between two races. At first glance, it looks like one used their technological superiority to subjugate the other. However, the fortuitous appearance of an intense ion storm nullified this advantage and allowed the most primitive race to throw off the yoke of their oppressors. The famous Ambassador Spock himself is coming to help with the negotiations, and despite the history of the two species, it looks like it will be a fairly straightforward diplomatic mission. However, it becomes apparent that things are not as simple as they seem, and the Ion Storm has properties that have never been seen before.
The story is the highlight of Resurgence, and it does a great job of capturing the feeling of a TNG episode. However, the inclusion of Spock is a bit too much. It’s 2380 in the game, and the Romulan Senate was just murdered a year ago. It would make more sense for Spock to be on Romulus to aid 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 excellent and you can tell the fans of the franchise are behind it. The USS Resolute, made up of surplus Excelsior and Miranda class parts, is a mix of the narrower segmented hallways of the TOS-era films and the bright, carpeted aesthetic of the Galaxy class. Most Star Trek productions focus on the newer and larger ships, and it’s interesting to get another look at the life of one of the workhorses in the fleet.
That being said, everything is pretty blue. The interior of the Resolute is primarily based on the Excelsior as seen in Star Trek VI: The Undiscover Country and the Voyager episode “Flashback”. As such, Dramatic Labs retained a similar interior design. For some reason, instead of getting an upgrade to the latest LCARS, it kept the blue entry system that the Enterprise-A and Excelsior had. Because the game is stylized and uses over-the-top colors, the amount of blue can be overwhelming at times. It seems Dramatic Labs was aiming for a comic book aesthetic, and it didn’t quite succeed. Instead, it comes as a mask for a low-budget game that took about six more months to bake.
Ultimately, Resurgence’s biggest problem overall is its animations. The stilted walk and odd hand movements broke the immersion throughout. I didn’t expect every role to be fully motion captured, but they should be at least somewhat realistic. Dramatic Studio was founded by former Telltale employees, so the expertise should be there. Often the result is that serious scenes end up going wacky because of a character’s odd movement or facial expression.
Unfortunately, Resurgence has technical shortcomings that are impossible to overcome. I played on PC, so here’s a quick rundown of my specs:
- Processor: Intel i9-13900K
- Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090
- RAM: 64GB G.Skill Trident Z5 DDR5 6400 memory
- SSD: Samsung 990 Pro 2TB m.2
Even on what is pretty much the highest end hardware available today, I encountered performance issues. There was infrequent stuttering, LOD issues, pop-ins, etc. Subtitles also frequently fail to trigger properly, which is a major accessibility issue.
Also, on PC there was no option to increase the resolution beyond 1080p and no way to adjust graphics settings or frame rate. One of the PC’s greatest strengths as a platform is that you can tailor your gaming experience to your needs, but that’s not the case here.
On the other hand, the controller support worked well. But, I found myself unable to quit the game while using it. For some reason I was able to get back 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 had to close it with the task manager.
All in all, it feels like the PC port could have used several more months in production. Of course, it’s possible that a day one patch will fix one or more of these issues, but we’ll have to wait and see if that is the case.
Star Trek Resurgence review: The final verdict
Resurgence is a difficult game to rate. As a fan of the franchise, I appreciate the attention to detail and the effort that went into bottling up Trek’s 90s nostalgia. However, while an enjoyable experience on its own, I have to wonder how much my perception of the game has been colored by my love of TNG, DS9, and Voyager. Sometimes it felt like I was seeing through glass, dark, ignoring the flaws 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 to those not in that era of the franchise.
Unfortunately, Resurgence’s technical and quality issues mean it’s not a great introduction to Star Trek. Thankfully, many old Star Trek titles that are more newcomer-friendly 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 you start somewhere else.
As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 6 equals “decent.” It fails to reach its full potential and is a mundane experience.