Star Trek Resurgence - title

Dramatic Labs is a relatively small, independent studio releasing their first game. As such, I want to give them some slack when it comes to the technical aspects of the game. That being said, the technical problems here aren't just superficial things like a choppy framerate or texture pop-in; they are things that have a big impact on the story, and which are impossible to ignore.

Even in the opening chapters (which I would expect to be the most polished part of the game), the dialogue frequently glitches out. It will replay the first line of a character's dialogue, and then skip the last line of their dialogue. At first, this was only a minor inconvenience because I was able to read the subtitles. But a few minutes later, the subtitles started disappearing as well, making it impossible for me to know for sure what was supposed to have been said. In a game that is supposed to be one long, interactive cutscene that requires the player to respond to dialogue, these problems with the playback of dialogue and subtitles is a big deal.

Furthermore, I suffered from a hard crash to the PS4's dashboard, and another soft lock when the game got stuck in tricorder mode and wouldn't accept any scan inputs. The tricorder soft lock happened at the same place in both of my playthroughs of the game, while trying to scan a miner's locker room for traces of DNA. If I walked to a certain corner of the kitchenette and pulled up the tricorder, the game wouldn't let me put the tricorder away or scan anything. In both cases, I had to exit to the game's main menu, reload the level, and then avoid that corner of the kitchenette in order to proceed.

Most of the game is responding to dialogue, so it's a big problem that some of the dialogue gets skipped.

These crashes and soft locks are particularly annoying because in both cases, they forced me to have to redo a large chunk of lengthy chapters of the game. And with no way to skip non-interactive sequences or dialogue, these replays really dragged. I don't necessarily mind having to sit through cutscenes and dialogue if I'm doing an alternate playthrough of the game, and hopefully seeing different scenes and experiencing different dialogue, but when I'm replaying the same section of a single playthrough and replicating the choices that I made verbatim, it's pretty annoying.

Also, this isn't really a "technical issue", per se, but the developers didn't bother to hide the PSN trophy information, and many of those trophies provide fairly explicit story spoilers. I also think they accidentally swapped the icons for a couple of pairs of trophies. Heck, even the save files (on PS4) aren't given useful labels. They all just say "Save Data". So if you wanted to backup and reload a save to find out what changes, you'll have to know the date and time of the relevant save because the filename won't help you.

Trophies spoil the story, and the save files all have the same name.

So let's get this out of the way right up front: if you want to play Star Trek Resurgence, you'll have to put up with a lot of technical problems and, let's call them "beginner's mistakes".

Playing with tricorders instead of phasers

But even though Dramatic Labs and co-developer Bruner House are not very experienced with creating games, they definitely do seem to know their Star Trek. If you can look past the glaring technical problems (most of which will hopefully be fixed with post-release patches down the line), Resurgence is a solid piece of Star Trek writing.

This "Telltale formula" is a very good fit for Star Trek, and I'm surprised that it's taken this long for someone to make a Star Trek game like this. Heck, I'm surprised that Telltale themselves never got the license to make a Star Trek game, since they seem to be huge nerds, and Trek seems like it would be right up their alley.

Tricorders might get more screen time than phasers.

A lot of Trek games fall into the trap of trying to adapt Trek into an action-heavy game genre. We've got examples like Elite Forces being a first-person shooter, Armada being a real-time strategy StarCraft clone, Invasion being a dogfighting Colony Wars clone, and so forth. These games usually prioritize phasers and photon torpedoes as the primary way that the player interacts with the play space. Resurgence, however, largely eschews phasers in exchange for pulling out a tricorder.

The Telltale formula (which is probably closest to old-school point-and-click adventures of LucasArts fame) allows the story and characters to take center-stage without having to try to force the majority of player interactions into the rigid boxes of a particular ludic genre. Resurgence is a "Choose Your Own Adventure" game, driven mostly by dialogue. It's basically one long, interactive cutscene that stops every minute or so to ask the player to chose 1 of 3 options for a response to a question.

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Game of Thrones - Telltale Game series

It was a couple years before I hopped onto the Game of Thrones bandwagon. My girlfriend insisted that I watch it, so I went through the entire backlog of seasons one through four over the fall and winter. So when I saw that there was a game available on Steam, I bought it for her. Unfortunately, she doesn't have the patience for this game's style of narrative gameplay, and she got bored with it and gave up within an hour. I had hoped that the excitement of new Game of Thrones content would offset the lack of interaction, but I was wrong. So I figured I'd play it in order to get my money's worth, since I'm more tolerant of "interactive movie" games, and I liked Telltale's previous Back to the Future game just fine.

Only the first two episodes (Iron From Ice and The Lost Lords) are currently available, and the remaining four episodes are expected to be released every couple months through the rest of the year.

Telltale is always absolutely dedicated to making their games look and sound like the source material,
right down to the show's stylish (and surprisingly informative) intro sequence for each episode.

As an "interactive movie", Telltale's Game of Thrones title is definitely worthwhile, as it's basically like watching episodes of the series. It adds to the narrative of the TV show by telling the tale of the Forrester house, who (following the events of the show's infamous "Red Wedding") find themselves suddenly under the dominion of the hated rival family, the Boltons. The game requires you to play as a small handful of family members (spread out between Forrester's own Ironrath keep, King's Landing, and the Black Fort) as they seek political alliances in order to protect the Forrester house from the Boltons' tyranny.

Or at least, that's the set-up. In true Game of Thrones nature, it doesn't take long for shit to hit the fan, and for all your expectations to fall apart.

The game has very little "action", as most of the focus is on conversation and plotting between characters. So if you're expecting a hack-n-slash game in the style of Skyrim, then you'll have to look elsewhere. Maybe that hack-n-slash game from Focus Interactive is what I should have bought for my girlfriend. Or maybe not...

Even the more intense action segments of the game (such as battles or brawls) require very little interaction or decision-making from the player. Most of the time, it's just an elaborate quick-time event, requiring you to complete the scene by just following on-screen prompts.

Once you get comfortable with the commands, action sequences require virtually no thought or skill from the player.

The action sequences were quite challenging at first, because they required the use of mouse commands and the arrow keys and other keyboard commands. And I only have two hands. Alternating between the mouse and arrow keys on the keyboard was a challenge, until I realized that the W,A,S, and D keys can be substituted for the arrow keys. Then the action sequences became trivially easy.

These sequences were extremely disappointing because of the lack of active participation from the player. The open exploration and puzzle-solving from Back to the Future is almost completely gone ...

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This review is an extension of a review of Part 1, originally published 02/22/2011 on Game Observer (now defunct as of 05/13/2014). It has been republished here for archival purposes, and updated to take Parts 2-5 into consideration. The final score of the game has changed since the original publication.

Back to the Future: The Game

Back to the Future: The Game cover art

The short length of Back to the Future: The Game - Episode One is indicative of the game’s episodic nature, but what it offers is very respectful of the source material.

TellTale games has crafted themselves a wonderful little piece of fan service in Back to the Future: The Game. The game really does feel like a labor of love, as the developers clearly put a lot of time and effort into getting the details right and being as respectful to the source material as they could. Characters, environments, and props all look exactly as you’d expect them to (within the style of animation used), and the voices are mostly spot-on. The voice of Marty is replicated by the fantastic Marty McFly impressionist AJ LoCascio, Christopher Lloyd himself was tapped to return as Doc Emmett Brown, and the supporting cast all do an excellent job. Except for Biff. Biff didn’t sound quite right. At least not to me. This game will no doubt draw in any Back to the Future fan right from its opening moments, in which it replicates Doc Brown’s unveiling of the time machine and the first time travel experiment.

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Welcome to Mega Bears Fan's blog, and thanks for visiting! This blog is mostly dedicated to game reviews, strategies, and analysis of my favorite games. I also talk about my other interests, like football, science and technology, movies, and so on. Feel free to read more about the blog.

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