Fans of Telltale Games-style story-oriented games may have been disappointed when the studio closed in 2018. The studio was later revived with several projects in development including The wolf among us 2 and a game based on The wide. But Telltale’s style lives on beyond Telltale, thanks to Dramatic Labs’ star trek: resurgence.
After playing a version of star trek: resurgencewhere I sampled three separate scenes, I got the impression of a game that closely follows the Telltale formula but, according to the developer, differs by having more action and less player complacency.
In a post-Telltale world, former Telltale designers from Dramatic Labs have switched to Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 4. temporal events. Additionally, they’ve updated their philosophies around familiar Telltale play tents like dialogue and removed the “keep silent” option to force players to actively engage with the game.
“When we looked at what you get from a Star Trek experience, we wanted to cover every angle of it,” said Dan Martin, Star Trek: Resurgence‘s narrative leadership. “So while a large part of the franchise is made up of people sitting around and talking and arguing about heavy topics, there’s also a lot of action and other types of scenes: mystery, investigation, […] everything you imagine Star Trek to be, you get a piece of it with this game.”
in the Star Trek: Resurgencewhich is set after the events of Star Trek: The Next GenerationPlayers assume the roles of two Starfleet members: First Officer Jara Rydek and Engineering Ensign Carter Diaz. Together, they will “unravel a dark mystery involving two civilizations on the brink of war,” according to Dramatic Labs.
Three scenes out Star Trek: Resurgence we played at Summer Games Fest last month were significantly different from each other, but they also shared the similarities you’d expect from a Telltale game. In the first scene, Rydek and Diaz gossip about their teammates before reporting to their captain on the bridge. Given the choice of being respectful or shutting up their boss, I chose to shut up and tested the limits of how I could make the scene un-Star Trek.
Next, I arrived on an alien planet to help oversee negotiations between two alien races, the Hotari and the Alidians, over a dilithium mining operation. (While Dilithium is an integral part of Trek history, the two races were invented for the game.) This scene featured Spock, skillfully voiced by Piotr Michael resurgence. Martin said it was a pleasure to write for an iconic figure in a hitherto unexplored time.
The negotiation went awry, possibly thanks in part to my attempts to choose the most obnoxious dialogue option at each point to ensure both sides would walk away offended. Admittedly, these games have often presented the illusion of player influence, when in reality things are largely on rails. However, I definitely managed to earn Spock’s disapproval, which admittedly didn’t feel good.
In the last scene of the demo, I piloted a slow-moving shuttle while two characters talked about a superior officer. The game presented waypoints to me and the shuttle drifted lazily toward them. It wasn’t exciting, but it sounds like the action will increase in intensity as the game progresses.
“It’s not going to redefine the genre, but we have a lot of over-the-shoulder exploration in the third-person perspective [and puzzle-solving]'” Kent Mudle, the game’s cinematics lead, told me. resurgence will feature phaser shootouts with an arcade-style cover-shooting system, as well as shuttle pilot scenes that are more dangerous than the “calm” (as Mudle put it) experience I played.
“There are some actual parts of the game that aren’t just dialog choices and clicking things in some sort of free-walk area,” Mudle said. “There’s a kind of action that’s not just quick-time events. We have some of those too, but we also have a few more, like a little bit of mild twitch reflexes.”
Like many who work at Dramatic Labs, Mudle and Martin both previously worked at Telltale. They said they’ve always wanted to expand their games in these directions, but didn’t always have the time, resources, or tools.
“Unreal Engine definitely helps,” Mudle said. “I think it’s also just a desire to do stuff like that from the start. We’ve made many games of this type and for a long time we’ve wanted to make them more “playful” to offer more variety in interaction, different types of sales that are immersed in the story. And we kind of weren’t necessarily able to do that without spending a lot of resources on it just because of time and previous engines.”
As for the removal of the “keep silent” dialogue option found in previous Telltale games, “you’d be surprised how many people haven’t used it,” Martin said. “There was the occasional silent option where something really interesting happens, but most of the time the other characters in the room just keep talking and the story moves on.”
“We’re trying to ask a little bit more from the players so that they’re actually involved and participating,” he added. “Not participating is not an option like her [used to] be. We’re trying to get you to get in there and pick a rail because that makes for a more interesting playthrough.”
Based on what I 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 got me so excited to beam into Dramatic Labs’ version of the final frontier.
Star Trek: Resurgence Slated for release this year on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.