Hello all! Last time I was here, I talked about Cold Winter, a barebones shooter that was a lot smarter than it seemed.
Today brings us an annoying adventure title. I say “annoying” because this is one of the old adventure titles (to a point) and it can be frustrating as hell. But it’s worth it.
Star Trek 25th Anniversary is an old-school point-and-click adventure title from 1992. It’s a continuation of the Original Series Star Trek, so you’re playing as Captain Kirk, Spock, Dr.McCoy, and so on. As a point-and-click game, you spend most of your time, um, pointing and clicking on stuff. Missions generally follow a formula: you travel to a point in the Enterprise, maybe engage in ship combat, then beam down to a planet or another ship and explore, solving puzzles and very occasionally fighting enemies.
The puzzles are the real meat of the game; each level is indeed a gigantic puzzle, requiring you to solve an overarching mystery in order to progress. The first level, for example, has you traveling to a planet inhabited by highly religious people who have had encounters with “demons.” It’s up to you, playing as Kirk, Spock, Bones, and Redshirt Guy Who Might Die to determine what’s going on.
You explore areas using classic Star Trek tools of the trade; tricorders to scan the environment, Bones’ medical scanner to treat injured people, and your trusty phaser, which you can set to stun or kill, naturally. You’ll need a combination of all of these plus your wits in order to make it through each of the seven levels, each of which resemble an episode of the series.
Like most old-timey adventure titles, the most important item you have in Trek is your own brain. Then again, like most old-timey adventure titles, logic often takes a backseat to complication. In one level, you need to make a gas concoction to disable a group of Romulans. The process is long and complicated, and arduous, and it’s the longest, most roundabout method of disabling people in a game that gives you a weapon that disables people as its primary function. The game can also be tricky to play nowadays, because you needed the manual at the ready (it had a star chart which was necessary to navigate); you can pull it up online easy enough, but it’s not really ideal. Ah, 90's copy protection.
In spite of its annoying quirks and labyrinthine puzzles, Star Trek 25th strikes a chord with me. I watched Star Trek as a kid; both the Original Series and The Next Generation, but eventually fell off. I mean, I was (and am) more of a Star Wars guy, but in recent years I’ve been rediscovering Trek (about 9 years ago I really got into it for a while) and, what I love about Star Trek 25th is, it’s one of the very few licensed games to actually capture the essence and feel of its property.
I mean, some games do this well; Spider-Man 2 made you feel like Spider-Man, and the same goes for the Batman: Arkham games. But then you think about the bad Star Wars titles like Demolition which miss the point, or virtually any Star Trek game (Voyager: Elite Force is good fun, but it never feels like Trek). Even something like GoldenEye—while it’s one of the best games around, you feel more like Doomguy than 007 through most of it.
Maybe it’s because it’s an adventure title, but Star Trek 25th succeeds specifically because it slavishly devotes itself to emulating episodes of the classic show. It of course helps that the game just so happens to feature the voices of the entire Original Series cast, but it’s more than that. The game opens with a MIDI version of the classic theme and credits, Kirk records his Captain’s Log, the crew ruminates on what they’ve just experienced at the end of a mission...you get lost in it because it’s so much like watching the show. Granted, the puzzles might pull you back out, but you still get sucked into the atmosphere time and time again, just to hear McCoy tell a joke at Spock’s expense, or deal with Harry Mudd yet again.
That the developers understood Star Trek makes this one of, if not the, greatest Star Trek game ever made. Not to mention, it’s a solid adventure game, too, albeit one that’s really only going to appeal to Star Trek fans. See, that’s kind of the caveat of games that devote themselves fully to their source material; you’re probably not going to win over anyone unfamiliar with said material. Still, go check this game out if you’re a Trekkie; it’s worth the six bucks on Steam.
Thanks always for reading! I have a Twitter and I like talking to people, so follow me!
Next week, I talk about an open world GTA clone which is also the precursor to Sleeping Dogs. That kinda gives it away.