There was much to see this past weekend at the Star Trek convention in Las Vegas, but I was excited for one thing in particular taking place in the merchandise hall and on stage Sunday afternoon. Disruptor Beam brought their brand new mobile game, Star Trek Timelines, to the show floor and I got a little hands-on time with it.
Star Trek has had a history of missteps when it comes to games, but I have a little more faith in Timelines because of it’s ambassador, John De Lancie, who plays the lovable villain Q. The actor talked at length about the developer and how impressed he was by the team before bringing the CEO of Disruptor Beam on stage. The two talked in depth about the game before answering questions throughout the presentation.
In Star Trek Timelines, something has caused a huge rift in time, and starships and planets from all across the space-time continuum are clashing. Q needs your help to solve disputes cropping up as a result, and it’s up to you to assemble your crew and travel the galaxy mopping up the mess. Because of the timelines merging, you can choose characters from any of the Star Trek series and all of the movies except for the most recent two.
The gameplay is largely made up of starship battles and away missions on planet surfaces. In my time with the game, I experienced first-hand that you have to balance your crew for these situations in order to handle different kinds of scenarios. It isn’t all combat and brute force on away missions; you have to have crewmembers that have stats in negotiation and others that are medics. In Starship battles, as a captain you have to pick crewmembers that can fix shields or handle complex maneuvers.
The game is also about exploration, and when you encounter new races, or old races from a new timeline, you must use your diplomacy skills as a captain to navigate the conversation. In the demo I played, my crew encountered a version of Worf that hates the federation and wants to settle disputes the traditional Klingon way. After battling with the Enterprise, I negotiated with him to stop attacking a helpless planet. As I talked with him, I received in-game awards (usually resources) for the different dialogue choices I made, whether they were diplomatic or hostile.
The problem I see on the horizon for Star Trek Timelines is the simplistic gameplay and repetitive nature of the game. Battling starships seems to just be ordering crew members with a click of a button (you don’t even control the ship). In away missions, you simply match a crewmember with their corresponding problem (for instance Picard would be used to negotiate). It’s all very repetitive, even in my short time with the game.
I think the staying power of the game will be the interactions between the characters. On stage Sunday, the CEO of Disruptor Beam mentioned that they will be writing material for all of the interactions between characters in the game. I’ve never seen 7 of 9 and Spock have a conversation, and as a Star Trek fan that sounds amazing. If handled well, it could make the repetitive nature of the game worth it for the pure joy of bringing together all these different characters.
Of course these are all just first impressions, I’m itching to get my hands on the game for an extended look and see if the gameplay and story can keep me interested. Star Trek Timelines releases this fall, with an closed beta happening very soon, you can visit Disruptor Beam’s website to sign up for the chance to participate!