Jun 3, 2016

[Games] Star Trek Wrath of Gems (Android)

I'm typically game to try any Star Trek game that comes to mobile, provide it's free. I'm pretty easy that way given I'm the sort of fan who loves the franchise enough to be willing to explore reskinned games just to pass the time. And you can't get more basic than the franchise-aligned Match-3 game. Just look at ventures like Doctor Who Legacy and Marvel Puzzle Quest.  Same basic game mechanic but somehow themed to the franchise.

And let's face it, Puzzle Quest was pretty genius when it first came out and we're all the better for it. We moved away from match 3 games simply being match 3 games and going towards creating a greater goal and the possibility of linear narrative progression. Life is funny that way.

But back to Star Trek Wrath of Gems, the latest franchise reskin of a match-3 game from the same people who created Frozen Freefall.

Star Trek Wrath of Gems is a Star Trek themed match-3 game created by Genera Games. It's free to play on both Android and iOS.

There's not much to explain about game mechanics here - at its simplest it's a match 3 game with the sort of RPG elements we saw in games like Puzzle Quest. In this case, you control various characters from the Star Trek universe as part of your battling. The game is not as diverse as the scope of Star Trek Timelines as it only covers Star Trek: The Original Series and Star Trek: The Next Generation specifically. Initially you will be asked to choose between TOS or TNG but latter on you can explore the missions of the other show.

The game is divided into Story, Events and Arena modes and is further divided into sort of Away Missions involving characters, sort of negotiations where two characters face off and Ship Battles. The Character missions allow you to select up to three characters you have recruited to take turns facing another team of characters. Each character has different damage ratings for each gem and different skills and the character with the highest damage for a matched gem will determine the damage to the opponent.

During the weird negotiations-style event, you choose one character to go head-to-head with another and half the gems support your side and the other half is for the opponent. Only you make matches but naturally you want to try to make only matches for your side and not the other.

Finally there are the ship battles where in addition to the 6 gem colors you also have Green Weapons, Red Weapons and Shields. The two weapons types are your main way of attacking (basic gem matches do no damage) and Shields recharge your shield bank.

Across the character missions and the ship battles there are special skills that are charged by matching gems of the appropriate color. theses help the characters feel special/unique and have added abilities. Most of them just do extra damage but there are some quirky effects like adding timers to the board that will trigger other effects if they make it to zero like recharging shields or paralyzing enemies.

The computer players can be annoyingly lucky and I've had more than a few games that ended because the computer setup a 5-6 match chain that mostly involved gems not even on the board yet - they just fell in perfectly. The difficulty curve is also a little high so you end up needing to grind via the Event or Arena modes. Not much unique about these modes except that you don't get rewards per mission, you get them for a certain number of points collated.

Character recruitment is heavily in favor of in-app purchases. You get a few characters through the Story game or the Arena games but it takes a lot of work. A character can only level so far before needing to rank up. And to rank up you need a duplicate of the same character to blend them together. That makes upgrading characters rather difficult as there are so many of them and getting the right matches can be tricky. So I feel I will get tired of this game pretty soon as I'm not all that motivated to keep grinding and not advance. But in a pinch, it still kills time.

Star Trek Wrath of Gems is all you can expect from a franchise-related match-3 game. It's not terrible by it does slant heavily in favor of in-app purchases, which is sort of understandable for such big name games. Thus the game gets 3.5 weird generic alien characters in the game out of a possible 5.

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