Star Trek Timelines has finally come out, and I must say, I was initially not impressed. The graphics were pretty good for a mobile game, but so much of it initially smacked of being a “Freemium” game. However, something magical happened. Within twenty four hours I became addicted to it, and I loved every unapologetic minute of my newfound addiction.
Its a new game wrapped in a proven format
When I first downloaded it my first thought was, “This is just another bull crap Freemium game.” It had all the hallmarks of one. Three different forms of currency (Credits, Merits, and Dilithium), timed missions that could be sped up by using the paid currency (Dilithium, i.e. real money), and rare units that can only be gained by using Dilithium to earn them (well, almost). Though there is certainly a component to this that is pay for play, you really can’t cut corners or level progression with money, in addition, this isn’t like Clash of Clans. There isn’t really a true PvP component to the game. Your starship isn’t going to be raided by another player, so you can’t lose any of your currency unless you spend it. You also gain credits and merits by completing missions (or spending real money). Ultimately, you don’t need real money to be good at this game.
The main crux of the game is running missions in your starship. There’s a whole convoluted story backing the action that I’ll get to in a minute, but essentially you pick your starship, and run through the game’s main story while leveling and making moral choices throughout the story. In every sense this is a RPG (except you’re character has no stats).
And this is what gets to the heart of it: it’s what a Star Trek edition of Pokemon would look like. As you level you get access to the time portal (Trekkies will know this as the Iconian Gate from “City on the Edge of Forever”) you get more crew. Each crew member has their own special attributes as well as stats. My highest level Kirk (there are multiple ones, so, yeah, this game is madness) currently has 77 Command, 60 Diplomacy, and 30 Security. My Ezri Dax has 25 Diplomacy and 26 Medicine. So each character doesn’t have the same stats. This is important because the missions are devised as a series of skill challenges in a sequence.
When you select a mission you have anywhere between four and six different stats on a set map. In order to gain the best gear from the missions (and to get max stars for the mission so you can move to the higher difficultly and get even better XP, currency, and gear) you have to pick your away team to best suit the challenges. You also have to be strategic in assigning them to a challenge as well, because that person will be weakened by the challenge and not have max stats for the immediate challenge after. So basically you never want to build your away team to where you are going to use the same crew member twice in a row. This seems simple, but really, it’s not. You can’t see how high your character’s skill has to be before you start the mission, nor can you see under what challenge the good gear is, and trust me, this game is all about the gear.
For the love of the grind
This game is made for people who love to grind. You character is locked to a max level of 10 until you equip them in all four equipment slots (and each slot is specific to the character. For example, my Kirk currently needs a standard starlet uniform, heavy scanner, and boxing gloves to unlock his next ten levels). So the only way to get your gear is to either purchase it from a faction or grind it through repeating main story quests. There is only one problem with mindless grinding though, you can only perform a certain amount of missions a day based on your characters level. Normally, a player like me (who HATES to grind) would just go through the main story, but I can’t. The reason? I need to level my characters. I need to have at least one high level character for each main attribute in order to complete the main missions.
My problem right now in my play through is I don’t have a good engineer or medical expert. Both of mine are stuck on level ten, and I’m grinding my heart out to get them past this block. It’s irritating because even through my Wesley Crusher is level 21, he’s just not the engineer I need. This is ultimately the magic of the game, it forces me to grind and I like it for it. It doesn’t feel like punishment like in some games (Destiny for instance).
It’s a weird mashup
So this gets me to the story. Basically there a bunch of temporal anomalies that are causing problems. It’s really just a lazy way to allow you to collect crew members from various eras and shows, but the way in which they combine stats is part of the appeal. I would never have believed before this that my two MVPs, that I take on almost every mission, are Wesley Crusher and Nog. That’s right. I pick Nog and Wesley over Kirk and Spock, or Picard and Worf, or any other character for that matter. There stats are incredible, and it leads to little things like this:
The game is filled with tons of insane gems like this that show me they actually watched the show and appreciate the little in-jokes of the series. With the temporal anomalies, many villains from various eras are cropping up trying to change their fate, which creates interesting story moments as the prime universe gets rocked by all these newcomers.
Is it worth it?
Ultimately, this is a mobile game made for a phone. This lacks the depth of a console port (like Final Fantasy Tactics or Knights of the Old Republic, but when compared to other games like Clash of Clans or any other freemium game out there, it’s worth the download. After all, it’s free. You can just delete it if you don’t like it.
- I wish that you could actually have your own crew and captain have their own stats on the adventure. I think that would make the experience more personal than curating your own Star Trek Hall of Fame.
- Going between iOS to iOS device, your account easily syncs through Game Center, but right now you can’t have the same account on both your android and Apple devices (which sucks!).
- Before the latest update my devices would crash when I went to warp, but now it’s fine.
- I love that John de Lancie does all the voice overs for Q. I miss his performance.