Saturday, 12 November 2016

Star Trek: 25th Anniversary - Boldly Adventuring

I would certainly consider myself a Star Trek fan, and a fan of science fiction in general. I grew up watching re-runs of the original series of Star Trek, and watching the classic movies. Gene Roddenberry created a series that was hopeful, insightful, heartwarming, exciting and occasionally quite silly. It may have sometimes been a little rough around the edges, or been a little simplistic in it's ideals but the camaraderie and positivity of the core characters was brilliant and went from strength to strength.

For it's 25th Anniversary, an adventure game was created to celebrate the series, and it even managed to include (on the CD-ROM edition) the voices of the original series stars. As a series of episodic adventures, it really captures the spirit of the show, as the crew of the Enterprise investigate a collection of alien worlds, with action, adventure and some difficult puzzles along the way.

The game opens with a space-combat exercise, with the Enterprise in mock-battle with a fellow Federation starship. Intended to teach the player the controls, it's actually a very difficult battle with the added pressure of not knowing what exactly you're supposed to be doing. On my first attempt I failed very quickly, and my second didn't last too much longer either. Failing this is no barrier to progress though, and I figured I'd have to learn the combat system with real enemies instead.

The ship combat isn't the strongest part though, so it's a shame really that so many of the episodes contain it. The control scheme is imperfect, and it doesn't really add much to the experience. I'm not a big fan of arcade/action style sequences in adventure games at the best of times either, and these give you no option to skip or avoid.

The game excels when you beam down to the planet or place of interest that comprises the main body of the missions though. The interplay between the main cast is very similar to the show, and the locations and puzzles have just the right feel. The voice acting, while not perfect, adds to the feeling that you're playing through episodes of the show.

Your away party consists of Kirk (essentially you, as leader), a member of the security team (the classic Redshirt), McCoy (for all your medical needs) and Spock (endless amounts of knowledge, Vulcan nerve pinch, and other scientific help). In fact, Spock seems to be the most useful member of the team, and the Redshirt only seems to be available to die if you do something wrong.

My only criticism is the occasional obtuse nature of some of the puzzles, and sometimes the environments are unclear. There are at least a couple of occasions where you can miss an early step and leave yourself in an unwinnable situation. This isn't uncommon in adventure games (unfortunately), but it is unnecessarily frustrating.

Criticisms aside, the majority of the episodes were very enjoyable, and I liked the emphasis on teamwork, puzzle-solving and occasional diplomacy. At certain points, you are given dialogue options, with a choice between something Captain Kirk might actually say, and some less than perfect responses.

The success of this game lead to a follow-up, "Judgement Rites" which I look forward to playing.

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