Star Trek: A Final Unity – Impressions
by Diego Beltrami
Starting A Final Unity is like time travel to the 90’s where a young kid spent hours glued to the TV watching the adventures of Picard and co. wishing for an awesome bear just like Riker’s.
Remember the excitement when the away team beamed down to an unknown planet? The thrill of Worf fighting against some weird creature? The awesome beard? Data finding clues and unravelling mysteries? Picard saving the day with the right call at the right moment? Those were good times. You might also remember Q, the Holodeck malfunctioning and all the other shitty things the show had but those aren’t important.
Now, the beard is almost a reality (beardy but not as awesome) and A Final Unity is like time travel as it was released in 1995. Does still hold up? Let’s inverse the polarity and reconnect the couplings and we’ll find out.
A Final Unity seems to be as great as it says it is. There was this sense of adventure and discovery in The Next Generation that’s captured perfectly in the game. You play as Picard while on the Enterprise. You give commands, tell people what to do, make the hard choices, ask for advice and chat with other people through the viewscreen. There is even space combat, where you can let Worf do his thing or command the Enterprise yourself. You can choose between different moves, attack patterns, divert energy. It’s amazingly and needlessly complete. Still, having all the options is just the game telling you ‘This is the best Star Trek experience you’ll ever have’.
I’ve heard people say that it’s a terrible adventure that only sold because it carried the Trek brand. They’re not completely wrong. It is a terrible adventure game. Puzzles range from stupidly easy to obtuse and impossible. But those people talk about it’s use of the Trek brand as it were a cash grab, and there is where we don’t see eye to eye, because I think that above all this game is a love letter to Star Trek. From the characters, all voiced by the original actors, the way it treats conflict, where it’s always better to try and cooperate instead of imposing yourself. It seriously understands what is the core of Trek and fills it with lots of little details like having to drag de mouse upwards to activate the transporter, simulating the hand sweep used in the show, instead of just clicking on a button.
The story, even if somewhat bland on character development has a nice buildup. Starting small, with some internal politics and rising the stakes to an epic scale. While perhaps going for epic wasn’t entirely necessary to make a good Trek story, the way it’s handled here is interesting and it doesn’t feel out of place.
There are some frustrating moments though. Puzzles that I still have no idea how the game expected me to arrive to the solution. Without a walkthough this game would’ve been left unfinished. Some puzzles were obtuse, some infuriating, others obvious and easy and a few chosen ones are good. It’s annoying how some of the solutions to puzzles involve just spend a few seconds without doing nothing waiting for a crewmate to make a comment or give some advice. This is also an annoying mechanism used after finishing an assignment, as it is not uncommon to just have no idea what to do next as there are no goals afterwards. It’s then that the game will leave you hanging for a few seconds until someone contacts you to advance the story.
But when the game doesn’t care about puzzles, when it’s just you commanding the Enterprise, contacting other ships, making the hard decisions, or when you are down in a planet with the away team, exploring strange new worlds it’s when A Final Unity is at its best, when it forgoes traditional point and click adventure game mechanics, when it doesn’t want to act like the popular kids, it shines because it feels just like Trek. I just hope that if someone makes a Star Trek game in the future learns the right lessons from this game and create the game that this one deserved to be.
No Redshirts were harmed in the writing of this article.