Star Trek Timelines goes where No Game has Gone Before [PAX East]

Covering all of the Star Trek universes is no small task, yet Disruptor Beam aims to do just that in their mobile game Star Trek Timelines. The game will feature characters and ships from the original Star TrekStar Trek The Next Generation,  Star Trek : Voyager, Star Trek : Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek: Enterprise.  A rift in time and space has allowed these different worlds to collide, and for the very first time, missions can be enacted with characters from different series and even different parallel universes. Locutus of the Borg and Captain Picard can work side-by-side to complete a mission. Alternatively, players can just as easily construct a dream team consisting solely of their favorite Starfleet Captains.

The gameplay is pretty standard for any fleet-based mobile game. Timelines offers a three tier system. Space exploration allows players to visit different systems within the universe; each solar system or region may be host to a conflict between different factions, which players can manipulate by completing missions. The missions are effectively multi-branched skill checks. Players have the opportunity to select their crew to obtain specific bonuses, and then their scores for science, diplomacy, or combat are tested against an enemy roll depending on which path they have selected. The strategy aspect of Timelines is a prominent feature, almost to the point that it might occasionally place itself between fans and their favorite characters. As may be expected, it is better to choose characters for logical–rather than preferential–reasons. Finally, crew and ship management play a role in the game. Taking crew on missions consumes their stamina, which refills in real time. Both crew and various starships can be leveled based on use, improving bonuses and buffering players’ ability to pass the mission skill checks.

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During my demo with the game, I was tasked with subduing a version of Worf from a different quantum reality in which he had never joined Starfleet. I selected the diplomatic dialogue options and tailored my crew accordingly: Janeway, Data, and Picard all granted me bonuses in useful areas. From there, the mission almost played itself. I was successful in the first set of branches, but I had to fly to a different sector of space in pursuit of Worf. Eventually I arrived at a peaceful conclusion. Alternate-Worf had taken note of my diplomatic behavior and expressed slight respect towards Starfleet as a result, and I was able to choose my final entry for the mission’s Captain’s Log, much like an episode of the TV series.

While I think that Star Trek Timelines is a fine tribute to Gene Roddenberry’s vision, there is little to distinguish it from other mobile games outside of its heavily fan-oriented content. The mechanics, as previously mentioned, don’t venture into unknown universes themselves. They are fairly intuitive, which is praiseworthy given the depth and breadth of content. The visuals are, perhaps, one of the game’s most striking features, as they are rather detailed despite the modest processing power afforded by most mobile devices. The sight of the Enterprise-D approaching the Deep Space 9 outpost almost qualifies as eye candy.

Disruptor Beam’s  focus is on the fans, but they want to make the game accessible to newcomers, too. I remain highly skeptical of this goal, as the game loses most of its allure once you take away any background knowledge of its various universes. That said, I anticipate that long-time Star Trek devotees may find the game worthwhile. They are the ones who might tremble with joy at the thought of piloting a Klingon Bird-of-Prey, whereas newcomers may be left scratching their heads.

Star Trek Timelines will be available for both iOS and Android devices, and will also be playable on the web. Disruptor Beam is currently looking for people to participate in Timeline‘s future closed beta.

Author: Robyn Miller

Robyn is a PhD Candidate in English Literature and a writer for SideQuesting. She has wrangled more raptors than Chris Pratt.

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