Dev: Disruptor Beam
Platform: Android, iOS, Browser
Release Date: January, 2016
The free-to-play strategy mobile game, Star Trek Timelines, centers around the idea that a strange anomaly has caused different timelines and realities of Star Trek to merge together, obviously causing conflicts that the player must resolve while they explore the galaxy.
The player resolves these conflicts by constructing an away team with the relevant skills and traits to solve the problem in different ways. You can choose characters that will try to resolve conflict diplomatically or you can choose characters that use weapons to gain control over a situation. The game is full of choices which align you towards different characters and groups as you agree or disagree with them. The player gets to level up these characters as they complete missions and collect new crew members with different specialties as the game goes on. The game is made up of these away missions, space battles, and faction missions. All in all, there is a lot of game play to be had in Star Trek Timelines.
Star Trek Timelines is visually impressive with beautiful cutscenes and an interactive, colorful, and detailed galaxy map. One of the most immediate things I remarked on the game was just how well produced it was. Every time I enter the game, I’m greeted by the treat that is John de Lancie’s voice acting as the character Q. There is so much polish on the production and interface of the game that it is understandable why I keep hearing about it.
I do feel however that though the game is well produced in many areas that the mechanics are not as rewarding as the external aspects of the game. And though the game can be a lot of fun, there are some downsides.
The difficulty curve of the away missions are poorly weighted and it is easy to get stuck on certain missions. This leads to grinding and replaying to earn special items and boost character stats. It is easy to succumb to the frustration of spending all this time to beef up your character stats and instead resign to in-app purchases to get new special characters at the Time Portal. Of course, paying isn’t the only way to earn new crew members. Completing away missions accumulates credits for the player. It takes 10,000 credits for one prize consisting of either a character, item, or schematics used to upgrade the player’s ship for space battles, and 90,000 credits for a pack of ten prizes. This verges the implementation of pay models across the boundary of purely aesthetic customization into paying to get ahead in the game.
I can understand how some can be tired of this free-to-play but pay-to-win model that is so prevalent in mobile games; however, I think there is enough substance in the game play to make Star Trek Timelines worth the grind.
Though there are these unfortunate aspects to the game, it never really stops the game from being enjoyable if you are a Star Trek fan. I love seeing familiar faces and collecting fun characters like “Tempted Data,” who has been infiltrated with Borg technology, or “Mirror Spock.”
If you are not a fan or are completely uninterested in Star Trek, I’m sure that much of the magic of the game is lost. I don’t think the game mechanics alone are pay-off enough for those who don’t care about the world of Star Trek, so you should probably just skip it. However, so much of the enjoyment in Star Trek Timelines comes from living in the world of Star Trek and seeing familiar faces that have never met or interacted with one another. So, if you are a fan of Star Trek and mobile gaming, I highly suggest you get this game.