Going boldly where no Trek game has gone before: Exclusive interview with 'Star Trek: Resurgence' developers

Star Trek: Resurgence
Star Trek: Resurgence (Image credit: Dramatic Labs)

Other than the wildly popular MMORPG Star Trek Online, there’s never been a truly great “Star Trek” video game over the past two decades (and there have been quite a few terrible ones), but the tide might soon be turning with the upcoming release of “Star Trek: Resurgence.”

This interactive narrative game comes courtesy of Dramatic Labs and presents an original space-faring story set in the era following the events of “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” where gamers attempt to solve a mystery centered around two clashing alien civilizations. It’s due to be released later this spring for PC, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, and Xbox Series X/S. 

Dramatic Labs is an independent studio make up of over 20 ex-Telltale Games (“The Walking Dead,” “Game of Thrones”) writers, developers, designers, artists, and producers. 

“Star Trek: Resurgence” and its single epic storyline unfolding with two separate characters should be familiar to lovers of Telltale’s distinct style of choice-driven gameplay, with certain upgrades and refinements built into this new venture.

In addition to an entirely new crew aboard the Federation starship U.S.S. Resolute in the year 2380, the game features fan-favorite character cameos like Ambassador Spock and species such as Vulcans, the Tril and Cardassians. Gamers will direct the actions and decisions of both First Officer Jara Rydek and Engineer Carter Diaz, with the choices of each crew member having an impact on the other’s ultimate path.

Space.com spoke with Dramatic Labs’ Cinematic Director Kent Mudle and Lead Writer Dan Martin on the fusion of modern gaming techniques with old-fashioned “Star Trek” storytelling, and what fans can expect from the game’s art style and tone.

Space.com: Can you take us on a warp-speed run of the new game's storyline?

Dan Martin: In “Star Trek: Resurgence the U.S.S. Resolute sets out to the edge of the galaxy, where two neighboring civilizations stand on the brink of war. But as the Resolute crew works to negotiate peace, they discover a sinister conspiracy lurking beneath the surface.

Space.com: What elements of the “Star Trek” experience were most important to capture and respect?

DM: We want “Resurgence” to deliver on a wide range of the elements you think of when you close your eyes and picture “Star Trek.” And our team has put an enormous amount of care into making sure we get the look and the sound of “Trek” right. We have tricorders, phasers, shuttlecraft… But at its heart, “Star Trek” is about relationships and the tough decisions of command – whether you’re making them as a starship captain or as the boots-on-the-ground, with your back against a wall. 

So it was crucial to give the Resolute a crew you’d want to be a part of, but also one that would challenge the player when it came time to make the hard calls, in the same way that Spock and McCoy push and pull on Captain Kirk’s decision making. 

Kent Mudle: I have to add that getting to portray Spock was an honor. From the voice performance to the character design, to capturing his very particular expressions and mannerisms, we’ve put a lot of love into bringing Spock to life. We know he’ll be heavily examined by the fans, and we hope we’ve met their expectations. 

Star Trek: Resurgence

The new bridge of the U.S.S. Resolute (Image credit: Dramatic Labs)

Space.com: How did you become “Star Trek” fans and what personal associations did you inject into “Resurgence’s" gameplay?

DM: There hasn’t really been a time when I wasn’t a “Star Trek” fan. I got into it as a kid, watching the first run of “The Next Generation.” Probably because it was the only thing on in that time slot other than the local news! But I soon found “Star Trek” had adventure, camaraderie, humor, mystery – and I was hooked. Then in the era of DVD boxed sets, I got to rediscover it all over again. And once more as streaming came around, and put the whole collection just a click away. Now there’s a ton of new “Star Trek” to feed a very dedicated fanbase, and we’re proud to be a part of that.

In broad terms, those early impressions of adventure, camaraderie, humor, and mystery have all had an impact on the game and its narrative. And there are so many indelible moments from classic “Trek” that you’d be hard-pressed to tell a story in this universe without paying homage or being influenced by at least some of them.

KM: “Enterprise” was my first "Trek" show, followed by the 2009 film, then I got into “TNG” and the “TOS” films after that. When starting on this project I took a very serious dive into the source material and fell in love with it all over again. Even after all this time, classic “Star Trek” feels fresh.

As Cinematic Director I wanted to bring a lot of the visual cues that make the classics feel the way they do, from the locked cameras and clever blocking of the TV shows to the more lavish camera work and visual effects in the films. “First Contact” quickly became my benchmark for cinematic presentation for the game. 

Star Trek: Resurgence

First Officer Jara Rydek (Image credit: Dramatic Labs)

Space.com: What can gamers expect from the art style and how did you arrive with the final decision?

KM: We wanted to make a game that when you looked at it would be undeniably “Star Trek.” We took cues from the shows and films close to our game’s time period and pushed just a little past that to a style we’re calling Idealized Realism. This style allows us to have believable, expressive characters, and environments that feel like you could actually walk around them and touch the carpet in the hallways. Every element that could be created by referencing the source material has been, and where we needed to expand on that we’ve taken care to make it logical. 

Star Trek: Resurgence

Engineer Carter Diaz (Image credit: Dramatic Labs)

Space.com: Can you discuss more about the game's characters and the choice-based narrative?

DM: Players experience “Star Trek: Resurgence” through two point-of-view characters: Jara Rydek, the new First Officer on the Resolute; and Carter Diaz, an enlisted crew member in Engineering. With players inhabiting both of these characters, they get to explore mysteries and unravel the story from two very different angles, each taking on unique challenges. Players will get to see certain characters in different lights, and it’s exciting to show two sides to life aboard the starship. 

Jara, as First Officer, is tasked with carrying out the captain’s orders, but is also in the best position to push back on them, so that’s a dynamic role to put the player in. We knew fans would want to be on the bridge of a starship – at the heart of the action. But I’ve always thought it was really cool when the shows would focus on characters lower in the ranks, who have their own kinds of stories. Carter’s world will have a different flavor than that of the senior staff, and he’ll have different actions that he can take than Jara can on the bridge.

KM: The reason we’ve gone for a whole new crew and ship is to allow the player room to tell their own story. Any character that has appeared in canon wouldn’t be as malleable or have as broad a range of roleplaying options and still respect “Star Trek” canon. We hope by the end of the game players will be able to say that “MY Carter” or “MY Jara” is different from another player’s. 

I’ll also add that outside of forming relationships and defining your protagonists, you will be faced with dramatic, life or death choices. The story goes to big places and the stakes get very high, where what you decide may determine the fate of your crew and your enemies. 

Star Trek: Resurgence

Ambassador Spock (Image credit: Dramatic Labs)

Space.com: What were some of the more surprising challenges and rewards of adapting this new “Star Trek” game?

DM: Well, we knew going into this project that one of the biggest challenges would be living up to the great legacy of a franchise with such a passionate fanbase. One challenge that was surprising was coming up with alien names — even more so for the established “Star Trek” civilizations than the ones we invented for the game. And while this project has been a dream to work on, something surprisingly rewarding was the fun of writing all the little details and textures that give the feel of really being on a Starfleet ship.

KM: “Star Trek” has years and years of canon and we constantly were checking ourselves to make sure we were respecting it. I had a lot of “has a phaser ever done THIS?” moments while working on the game. In a way it was like working on a piece of historical fiction, but the history is of a fictional universe. I know more about “Star Trek” minutiae than I ever thought possible and it’s been a delight to learn.

“Star Trek: Resurgence” lands later this year for PC, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, and Xbox Series X/S. Be sure to stick with us for more coverage of the game as we approach the release.

You should also check out some of our other Star Trek content, including our rundown of the Star Trek movies, ranked worst to best, along with our guide to watching the Star Trek movies in chronological order. Resistance is futile!

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Jeff Spry
Contributing Writer

Jeff Spry is an award-winning screenwriter and veteran freelance journalist covering TV, movies, video games, books, and comics. His work has appeared at SYFY Wire, Inverse, Collider, Bleeding Cool and elsewhere. Jeff lives in beautiful Bend, Oregon amid the ponderosa pines, classic muscle cars, a crypt of collector horror comics, and two loyal English Setters.