Star Trek: Resurgence is a brand new graphic adventure game by Dramatic Labs. The story is set shortly after the events of Star Trek: The Next Generation. It follows the crew of the USS Resolute, a Federation science vessel. Tasked with brokering a peace between two warring peoples, only to find that there is more at stake than diplomacy. Lets take a look at the accessibility of Star Trek: Resurgence.
New Adventure, Same Trek, Old Friends
The player takes control of two characters, newly-appointed first officer Jara Rydek, and petty officer and engineer Carter Diaz. In many ways this game is like seeing an old friend after 20 years and being able to carry on as if not a single day has passed. This is due to the fact that Dramatic Labs is comprised almost entirely of former Telltale Games staff, and director Kent Mudle who provided writing contributions on many of the most popular Telltale titles. The Telltale influence is deeply rooted here as it is felt in everything from writing to decisions and other aspects.
Space… The Final Frontier, with a few barriers
Anyone who has played a Telltale game will feel right at home here, as the interfaces are virtually identical. Even though there isn’t a dedicated accessibility menu, there are ways in which Resurgence offers assistance. As with most titles of this kind, the story’s course is impacted by how players respond during dialogue. When characters speak, players may choose one of usually four responses mapped to the face-buttons.
The system in Resurgence is more accessible than Telltale’s because expiring the response time doesn’t result in responding with silence. Instead when the bar expires, the game freezes and changes to a black and white filter. This effectively grants unlimited time to choose.
However, Resurgence possesses accessibility shortcomings in other facets of play, the biggest example of which is the phaser fights. In these, the players must stay behind cover while popping up periodically with L2 to take shots at foes. Unfortunately, there is no way to activate aim-assist, meaning that each time you duck, you must reposition the camera. The camera will not stay where you position it unless you’re aiming the phaser, so you can’t line up a shot without being exposed to damage.
Each time you are hit, the character crouches, causing players to need to re-align. Furthermore, only three hits are allowed by default, making progression tedious. Because there isn’t any aim-assist motor-impaired players will likely always be defeated trying to line-up shots. The developers make a solid attempt to rectify this by letting a player choose story mode upon death. This mode gives players unlimited health. Phaser fights remain a problem because players must still re-adjust after being hit.
Sins of the Story Mode
Story mode accomplishes a good thing in that it also makes any allies players have to defend invincible. You won’t lose due to allies being killed. It unfortunately has no effect on stealth sections. Nor does it help in areas where an enemy must be prevented from reaching a specified spot. Getting spotted or failing to prevent enemy access still triggers a game over. It’s also strange that story mode can’t be selected from the main menu. Players need to lose in order to use it. The inability to incapacitate enemies during stealth is also odd.
There are also a fair number of QTEs (Quick Time Events) which may be a challenge for motor-impaired players. The most difficult of them being the transporter mini-game, and a separate dexterity intensive game. This requires maintaining the specified stick held in the yellow part of a circle while the outer ring fills. The caveat being that it becomes harder to maintain the more it fills. If players stray from yellow too long, progress will begin to revert. Should players unsuccessfully re-center in time, all progress is halted. This minigame has no time-limit, but I cannot say the same about the transporter game.
The transporter mini-game has two instances of time constraints. Here the player must boost the teleporter’s signal by perfectly aligning three different wavelength meters at their furthest point. Each being more difficult than the last, and failure on the final one results in having to re-align all three. The first step requires selecting the subject to transport, and the second requires players to create a clear transport path. This path is created by connecting four beam points while avoiding collision with space-debris, as collision will dissolve the beam.
The final game of note is shuttle flight, which involves flying to a waypoint, usually while avoiding asteroids or lightning. Where physical harm is possible you are given three chances to succeed, but the counter is disabled in story mode. Mini-games like these make up the bulk of the gameplay loop, to do things like open an emergency hatch during a storm, or eject an overheated engine core. Basically anything that requires physical exertion. It is frankly surprising that there’s no auto-complete option for the mini-games, or any of the QTEs for that matter.
Visual and auditory anomalies
The second largest facet of Star Trek: Resurgence is exploration. The exploration sections are fun because they flesh out lore, and can often provide context for things happening in-game. While basic interaction prompts are very easily spotted, objects tied to story progression need examination by tricorder. This is where barriers appear.
The Trouble with Tricorders
Players are alerted to scannable objects by the tricorder’s beep which also emits a short flash of white light. Scanning is done by approaching an object and using L1 and R1 to cycle through three modes, chemical, radioactive, and biological search. Colorblind players may miss this, each mode has a different color associated with it and there are no colorblind modes.
In some cases objects, which appear green on the tricorder screen, don’t appear unless a certain scene is triggered first. The tricorder beeps regardless, and also does so on previously examined items. This can cause players to believe they overlooked something. In one scene you are instructed to phase a crystal on a cliff, which appears correct on tricorder. After spending fifteen minutes phasing without effect, a detour to YouTube informed me the crystal is in the opposite direction. The light I mentioned doesn’t linger long enough. The beeping may prove a challenge for hard of hearing players since environmental sounds are not reflected in the subtitles.
The subtitles cannot be adjusted in any way, but the default is fairly legible and contains speaker names. However they don’t always transcribe what a character is saying directly. In one play session I was forced to restart the game because a scene was playing out, but it didn’t load properly so the screen faded to black as characters spoke. I was even prompted to choose dialogue with a black screen. Further solidifying this is dialogue from a previous scene on rare occasions interfering with a current one. Thankfully it doesn’t break immersion too badly.
In my opinion Star Trek: Resurgence triumphs over its flaws by presenting the source material in the most television-accurate form in an interactive format to date. An abundance of QTEs hold it back when it comes to motor-impaired players, and tricorder exploration may be hard visually. Despite those accessibility issues there is fun to be had in Star Trek: Resurgence. Although it is odd in 2023 to see a game with no dedicated accessibility menu, the story mode in Resurgence alleviates some of the stress. Fans looking to tide themselves over until Telltale’s comeback with The Expanse would be hard-pressed to find a better way than Resurgence.