Oct 14, 2015

[Games] Star Trek Trexels (Android)

So when I first got a smartphone, I figured that I'd get all excited about mobile games and would lose a lot of time to them. A few years later, I find that I hardly play games at all since a lot of them tend to offer rather limited gaming experiences that tend to be quite redundant. Plus the battery life on my HTC One is pretty horrible, thus I prioritize battery usage for other functions and apps.

But every now and then I go on and try a game or two in order to see how things go. Beyond being an on-again, off-again Doctor Who Legacy player, I figured I'd give Star Trek Trexels a go. I'm still quite the die hard Trekkie and so I was curious to see what this game might be like, especially given how long it took before the game came to Android. Plus I like pixel art style game for whatever reasons might make sense.

And while this game has a lot of charm and a lot of potential to be quite fun, it can also be rather tedious. It suffers from all the trappings of freemium games that make us hate such applications and it's a darn shame that it has done so.

Star Trek Trexels is a free-to-play mobile game initially released for iOS and has also been released for Android. I'm not 100% sure what genre this game really belongs to. You could say there's a ship/city building aspect to things. In truth it's really more a mindless clicking game with a lot of waiting built into everything.

The game starts out pretty great with a George Takei narration of an 8-bit style Starship Enterprise. There's a grand initial adventure as you get into the game and get a feel for things. And should your survive your first encounter with the Klingons, there's a whole lot more space for you to explore.

But beyond the grand opening of the game that was heavy in the fan-pandering department, the rest of things are generally downhill. And that's because the game is horribly held back by the freemium nature of its design which involves a lot of repetitive tapping and tasks set on timers.

At first I was excited that tasks would be broken down into different challenges for Diplomacy, Combat, Science, and Engineering. But all of them consist of cubes randomly appearing on the screen and you tapping the cubes to gather them and use them to execute whichever task costs 4 cubes per click. Do this enough times within the time limit and you succeed at the task.

The game takes place across a series of sectors and it's almost guaranteed that you're going to feel quite stuck within that first sector alone. The game is designed to require a LOT of grinding to train up your officers to a decent skill level that will allow you to defeat various challenges. You have a list of supposed missions from Starfleet that you also need to complete such as building this room or that room, but your missions list also includes an offer to buy whatever is on sale in the in-game store.

I got especially annoyed when a particular story mission task required me to build a premium room instead of one of the basic ones. Sure, you could theoretically earn dilithium crystals by watching the video ads included in the game or logging in for 5 days straight, but that's not the point. Using your premium-only purchases to gate story progress is totally unfair. It's a blatant cash grab for a game tat you try to position to be free. Add in a very steep rise in costs to explore new planets, unlock new sectors, add more build space in your ship, build rooms, or even train people and you have a so-called game that feels more like a chore or some job dreamed up in a Terry Gilliam dystopia.

Star Trek Trexels looks great in screencaps and certainly has a lot of potential for fan love. But the game system itself is horrible and represents the worst of the mobile gaming industry. Thus the game can only get 1.5 ridiculous delays before you find out you arbitrarily failed a mission out of a possible 5.

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