Fans of Telltale Games’ style of story-driven games may have been disappointed when the studio shut down in 2018. The studio was subsequently revived with several projects in development, including The Wolf Among Us 2 and a game based on The extent. But Telltale’s style lives beyond Telltale itself, thanks to Dramatic Labs star trek: Resurgence.
After playing a version of star trek: Resurgencewhere I sampled three distinct scenes, I got the impression of a game that sticks closely to the Telltale formula, but differentiates itself, says the developer, with more action and less player complacency .
In a post-Telltale world, former Telltale designers at Dramatic Labs have transitioned to Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 4. temporal events. Additionally, they’ve updated their philosophies around familiar Telltale game mastheads like dialogue, removing the “stay quiet” option in order to force players to actively engage with the game.
“When we looked at what you get from a Star Trek experience, we wanted to consider it from all angles,” said Dan Martin, Star Trek: Resurgencethe narrative thread. “So while a lot of the franchise is people sitting around talking, debating important issues, there’s also a lot of action and other kinds of scenes: mystery, investigation, […] whatever you think of Star Trek, you’ll get a piece of it with this game.”
In Star Trek: Resurgencewhich takes place after the events of Star Trek: The Next Generation, players assume the roles of two members of Starfleet: First Officer Jara Rydek and Engineering Ensign Carter Diaz. Together they will, according to Dramatic Labs, “unravel a sinister mystery involving two civilizations on the brink of war.”
Three scenes from Star Trek: Resurgence that we played at Summer Games Fest last month differed significantly from each other, but they also shared the similarities you’d expect from a Telltale game. In the first scene, Rydek and Diaz chatted about their teammates before reporting back to their captain on deck. Faced with the choice of being respectful or speaking to their superior officer, I chose to speak, testing the limits of how I could do the scene without Star Trek.
Then I arrived on an alien planet to help oversee negotiations between two alien races, the Hotari and the Alidians, over a Dilithium mining operation. (Although Dilithium is an established part of Trek lore, both races were invented for the game.) This scene featured Spock, who is ably voiced by Piotr Michael in Recurrence. Martin said it was a pleasure to write for an iconic character during a previously uncharted time.
The negotiation turned sour, perhaps in part thanks to my attempts to choose the most obnoxious dialogue option at each stage, ensuring that both sides walked away offended. Admittedly, these games have often presented the illusion of player influence when in fact things are largely on track. However, I definitely managed to earn Spock’s disapproval, which admittedly didn’t do me any good.
In the final scene of the demo, I piloted a slow shuttle while two characters discussed a senior officer. The game presented me with waypoints and the shuttle drifted lazily towards them. It wasn’t exciting, but it looks like the action will increase in intensity as the game progresses.
“It’s not going to redefine the genre, but we’ve got a lot of third-person, over-the-shoulder exploration. [and puzzle-solving]said Kent Mudle, the game’s cinematics manager. Recurrence will feature phaser gunfights using an arcade-style cover fire system, as well as shuttle piloting scenes that are more dangerous than the “tranquil” (as Mudle put it) experience I have play.
“There are some real parts of the game that aren’t just dialogue choices and clicking on things in some sort of free-walking section,” Mudle said. “There is action of a type that is not just quick events. We also have some, but we also have others, like a little kind of light twitch reflex.
Like many who work at Dramatic Labs, Mudle and Martin both worked at Telltale. They said they’ve always wanted to expand their games in these directions, but didn’t always have the time, the resources, or the tools.
“Unreal Engine definitely helps,” Mudle said. “I think it’s also just a desire to do this stuff from the jump. We’ve done a lot of games like this and we’ve been wanting to make them more gamey for a while to provide more variety in the interaction, different ways to kind of sell while being immersed in the story. And we were kind of, just through time and previous engines, not necessarily able to do that without putting a lot of resources into it.
As for the removal of the “keep quiet” dialogue option found in previous Telltale games, “you’d be surprised how many people haven’t used it,” Martin said. “Sometimes there was the rare silent option where something really interesting happens, but most of the time somehow the other characters in the play are still talking around you and the story keep on going.”
“We try to ask a bit more of the player, to get involved and participate,” he added. “Opting out is not as much an option as it is [used to] be. We try to get you in and having to choose a rail because that translates into more interesting play.
Based on what I’ve played Star Trek: Resurgence, fans of Telltale games will feel right at home. But it’s the improvements and refinements the developers have been talking about that excite me to embark on Dramatic Labs’ vision of the final frontier.
Star Trek: Resurgence Set to launch this year on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.