It’s no secret that I’m a sucker for all things Star Trek. My fandom is bad enough that, even if Timelines turns out to be a huge dud, I’m keeping it installed on my iPad just to have an icon that features Jean-Luc Picard. What is Timelines? Star Trek Timelines is the latest free-to-play game set in the Star Trek universe, developed by Disruptor Beam, which was released earlier this week.
First of all, you’ll be glad to hear that the graphics in Timelines aren’t 8-bit. The ship graphics themselves are actually pretty well done. The character graphics are still portaits that look a bit cartoony, but I’ll take them over the square blobs we got in Trexels any day. Because no one wants to shoehorn themselves into one Star Trek show or movie, Timelines has a convoluted plot where an anomaly is ripping apart time allowing characters from all the different Star Trek iterations to join together on the same ship. My initial crew consisted of Picard, Sulu, Torres, and a mix of other minor characters from Enterprise and DS:9. After completing my first mission, Spock joined up as well.
Gameplay thus far is a bit light. Ship combat consists of waiting for cooldowns and tapping on your crew mates, while the ship is automatically controlled for you. Away missions consist of dragging crew members that share that mission’s icon onto a path, and then seeing if a random roll gives you enough of that skill to succeed. There are ways to level up your crew and give them equipment to bump up these numbers, but at first glance it all seems quite simple. I also feel like, maybe, I’m missing something, so the jury’s still out on this one.
The game is also hampered with a convoluted free-to-play system. There are at least two easy-to-spot currencies in the game, and while some (credits) are easy to obtain, the ones that aren’t (dilithium crystals) are the ones needed to unlock “epic” crew members and “premium” rewards. Those are the visible currencies. If you look around you’ll stumble onto references for “Transmissions” (of which I have zero) to unlock things, VIP tokens (which you get when you buy dilithium) to unlock other things, and Merits (of which I have 0) which you get from completing missions (but apparently none of the missions I’ve completed). Like I said, it’s convoluted. As bad as it sounds, however, I played for a while last night and came nowhere near needing to spend any real money. Of course, I don’t have any “epic” crew mates, but I guess I’m not sure what I’m missing at this point. Oh, and there doesn’t seem to be any timers, either, which is the death knell for any game on my iPad, cool icon or not.
Is Timelines the game that Star Trek fans have been waiting for? Probably not. It seems cool, but I’m worried that the game was made more to hook whales than actually deliver a rewarding Star Trek experience. It does feature all new voiceovers by John de Lancie as Q, which is causing me to overlook some of the games immediately obvious shortcomings.
Issues aside, the game is free to try on both iOS Universal and Android so, if you’re a Trekkie it can’t hurt to look. F2P shenanigans aside, it’s definitely the mobile game most seeped in Trek lore, which has to be worth something. Trailer after the break.