by Benjamin Fitzgerald
In 1992, Interplay Entertainment released one of the greatest Star Trek games of all time, Star Trek: 25th Anniversary. This was the first Star Trek game that truly lived up to its lofty mantle.
Each episode of Star Trek (save “The Menagerie”) was a self-contained adventure. 25th Anniversary follows suit by dividing the game into seven self-contained missions, each of which functions as different episodes. While this is common practice today, it was very unusual for an adventure game at the time.
25th Anniversary is a fantastic game, and to give it justice, I would have to write a very long blog covering all of the missions in thorough detail.
Instead, in the spirit of Star Trek, I’m going to review each mission as a standalone title. I’ll be splitting up my review of the game into a series of shorter articles. This will allow me to focus more closely on the plot of each episode. The first mission is called “Demon World.”
Like most episodes, the game begins on the bridge. The Enterprise is to engage in a mock battle with the Republic. This functions as a brief tutorial for players to get accustomed to controlling the Enterprise in battle.
Whether you win or lose the mock battle, the Enterprise receives a message from Starfleet Command. A religious sect known as the Acolytes of the Stars have colonies on three Federation worlds. Recently, the Nikolasi colony on Pollux V has been suffering from unexplained attacks on the colonists. According to the colonists, demons are assaulting the miners on the planet. Nikolasi is in Federation space, and the Enterprise is ordered to investigate.
Kirk beams down to Pollux V with Spock, McCoy and security officer Everts. Kirk is greeted by High Prelate Robert Angiven, who asks Kirk to investigate the mining operations at Mount Idyll and to aid the injured colonists.
A Demon World?
The landing party meets one of the injured colonist. He has developed an infection and requires immediate treatment. Kirk is tasked with finding a sample of Laraxian berries to create the medicine. The only known source of the berries is near the mouth of the cave on Mount Idyll.
When the away team reaches Mount Idyll, three Klingons appear and open fire. Kirk defeats them, and Spock observes a small explosion – one of the Klingon’s hands has fallen off. Lt. Uhura contacts the away party with reports of “phaser fire and an unknown energy beam.” Klingons use disruptor weapons, so McCoy scans the fallen bodies. They are not Klingon. Spock performs his own scan and discovers that what appears to be Klingons are actually bio-mechanoid constructs.
After treating the acolyte, Kirk asks the acolytes what the demons looked like. The human and Tellarite each describe demons unique to the mythology of their worlds. The away team met with Klingons, however. What is behind the creation of these constructs?
The point and click adventure was a perfect choice for the game. Tricorders are a valuable tool, providing players with the information necessary to carry out their tasks. Dialogue is also a critical part of this mission, both with the colonists and with members of the away team. Good adventures demand strong characters and stories. Both are provided by the Enterprise crew.
Furthermore, the puzzle-solving tasks, by and large, all fit in naturally with the setting. Find the Laraxian berry; repair a damaged hand; gain entrance into the strange door inside the mine. All of these puzzles are activities you can readily imagine Kirk and Spock solving in order to complete the mission. The final reveal at the end – first contact with a forgotten race – feels appropriate to Star Trek ideology.
Even the expendable crewman is treated appropriately. Young and inexperienced, Everts apologizes for getting caught off guard by the Klingons’ sudden appearance. Security officers often die in Star Trek, and there are several ways Ensign Everts cn be killed. He can be crushed by a falling boulder or vaporized by an electrical shock. The first one in particular is notable, as Everts sacrifices his own life to save Captain Kirk.
My only real complaint is the brevity of “Demon World.” If you know what you’re doing, everything can be accomplished in ten or fifteen minutes – less if you don’t complete everything. (You don’t have to save the colonist’s lives.) A few more screens and a few more puzzles would have been a welcome addition. Still, there’s a lot to like here. The acolytes aren’t ridiculed for their religious beliefs. The mystery is logical, and there’s even some humor to be found. Not bad for a first episode.
You have a lot of freedom in how you approach the mission. Helping the colonists is optional, and you can be diplomatic or aggressive in your conversations. You can also resolve the mission without the death of Everts.
You are awarded a score at the end which changes based on how you solve the mission. This encourages you to replay the mission and see what you missed the first time around. This isn’t my favorite mission in the game, but it is still a lot of fun, and a great introduction to the game.
*Note: I apologize for the odd colors in some of the screenshots. For some reason they didn’t translate properly.*