With the recent critical acclaim of the latest Star Trek movie and the anticipatory hype being garnered by the arrival of a new Star Trek TV series next year, it’s difficult to come to terms with the fact that this multi-generational sci-fi series has never received the video game adaptation it so desperately warrants. That’s not to say there haven’t been a few attempts over the past four decades that have come close, but most have fallen in line with the disastrous 2013 game or the divisive but slowly-improving Star Trek Online. Similarly to what some hardcore fans have been saying about the rebooted movies, Star Trek games have long focused on the wrong aspects of Gene Roddenberry’s universe and instead would have a much higher chance of success by centering their attention on these four essential features.
A Half Century’s Worth of Stories to Tell
Through numerous mediums over the years, Star Trek has explored countless themes and arcs in new and experimental ways. While it will be difficult to create a wholly original Star Trek tale for a new video game, this story must be the developer’s primary focus, as many of the best works from this franchise have put controversial topics and characters at the forefront. It will certainly be tempting for writers to take advantage of ways to tie their new take in with many of these classic adventures, and doing so might certainly provide a way to entice longtime Star Trek fans. But above all else, implementing the game’s narrative, both through well-produced cutscenes and within the gameplay, will be key to the game’s ability to replicate a proper tale in this high-potential universe.
While linear stories in games have certainly proven their worth over the years, removing a player’s ability to choose in a Star Trek game would limit the depth to which both developers and players alike could fully explore the complex themes and personalities of this game’s plot. The most successful video game space operas to date, the Mass Effect trilogy, would be the clearest example of this feature being used properly, allowing players to dive as deeply as they desire with optional and player-driven conversations and missions alike. For a Star Trek title to be pulled off successfully, the developers will need to make the participant feel like their decisions and actions matter, which will have the added bonus of providing additional length and replayability to the final product.
Ship Combat Done Right
As Star Trek has evolved throughout the years, spaceship combat sequences have always remained an integral part of the series, providing some of the most intense sci-fi scenes in both movies and television. Despite this, numerous Star Trek games have pushed this aspect off to the side, in favor of ground combat scenarios, a present but arguably less essential feature of the original series. Developers looking for inspiration for reproducing a Star Trek-like approach and atmosphere to space battles need to look no further than the Early Access title Pulsar: Lost Colony. By making each role of the ship in times of warfare feel equal parts intense and crucial to the fate of numerous lives, each encounter will seem unique and memorable, providing a key gameplay element that will stay with the player long after the completion of the game.
Don’t Forget the Gadgets
With multiple early Star Trek inventions becoming a reality over the past decade, newer stories have had to offer new pieces of technology to both awe audiences and inspire present and future engineers. These gadgets could play a similarly impressionable part in a new Star Trek game, serving as the player’s means for solving various puzzles and challenges. As tempting as it may be to rely on devices previously shown in other Star Trek works, one of the reasons for the series’ continued success is the potential the universe has for evolution and innovation with regards to numerous aspects of this world, including the technology. By developing technology around the puzzles instead of vice versa, new possibilities for gameplay will open up to provide players with original and ingenious tests to solve that don’t feel like an afterthought, as most sequences of these nature tend to.
What other features would you like to see in a new Star Trek game? Which developer should take on this daunting task? Let us know in the comments below.