Star Trek is a universe full of seemingly never-ending potential. While you can spend time poring through the neverending creative output the Trek fandom produces — or even writing some fanfiction yourself — another great outlet for feeling like a part of the Star Trek universe is through its games. And wow, are there a lot of games out there.
Not all the games out there are quite as successful as you'd like them to be, however many capture the spirit of the show and movies wonderfully well. At their best, these games make you feel part of the Star Trek universe in some small part, while still being highly enjoyable titles in their own right. We've gathered ten of those games, covering all the different parts of Star Trek to cater for every taste.
Star Trek Online
The massively multiplayer online role playing genre is the perfect choice for a Star Trek game. What could be better than a persistent universe that you can inhabit and choose to explore strange new worlds all of your own?
The launch of Star Trek Online was a little rocky with early reports of it being buggy and repetitive, but time and regular updates have been very kind to it. You can easily pass away dozens of hours exploring the universe, getting involved in new storylines, and mostly doing anything that feels right to you.
There are plenty of great cameos from some of your favorite characters including those from the Original Series, The Next Generation, and Voyager!
Star Trek: Elite Force
Given the generally peaceful nature of Starfleet, the first person shooter nature of Star Trek: Elite Force might seem oddly jarring at first, but it makes sense in the long run. Made by Raven Software, best known for its violent Soldier of Fortune series, Star Trek: Elite Force still managed to feel suitably Star Trek-esque thanks to its focus on fending off the Borg.
You play as Ensign Alex Munro, a member of the Hazard Team — a specialist elite security force that's been tasked with dealing with dangerous away missions. The U.S.S. Voyager has been trapped in a starship graveyard so it's down to you to free it and protect it from hostile factions including the Borg and the Klingons.
While it lacks the peacekeeping nature of many Star Trek tales, Elite Force does a great job of making you feel part of an away team, highlighting a different part of Starfleet life. A sequel, Star Trek: Elite Force II, was almost just as good too.
Star Trek: Bridge Crew
Star Trek: Bridge Crew doesn't have the greatest of depth to its gameplay, but who can resist being part of a crew via virtual reality? Played through four roles including the captain, tactical officer, engineer, and helm officer, each character template has a part to play. The captain is the one responsible for communicating mission objectives, while the helm officer controls the ship's course, the tactical officer deals with sensors and weaponry, and the engineer keeps a close eye on power distribution and repairs.
It's a neat form of teamwork for those wearing the VR sets and one that's immediately appealing to those who have wanted to helm their own starship. After a time, you'll realise that the experience is a little bit samey and repetitive, but with the right group of friends, it's tough to resist all the same.
Star Trek The Next Generation: A Final Unity
Capturing the spirit and general feel of The Next Generation near perfectly, A Final Unity is easily one of the best Star Trek games out there, even 25 years after its initial release.
Players control Captain Picard and the rest of the TGN crew in a mixture of point and click adventure, puzzle solving, and away team missions. There's room too for ship based combat as well as thinking how best to deal with issues diplomatically. Such a mixture of different elements is much of why A Final Unity feels like a 'true' Star Trek game. You can search various star systems, get to know the locals, while also choosing how best to deal with complicated situations.
You're sure to enjoy feeling a true part of the Star Trek universe, even if the story is rather linear by modern standards.
Star Trek: Starfleet Command III
Much of Star Trek involves diplomacy and keen use of strategy. While Star Trek: Starfleet Command III skips the diplomacy, it has strategy to a tee. Placing you in the captain's chair, the game was intended to tie into Star Trek: Nemesis. That captain's chair isn't necessarily Starfleet based either, with the opportunity to be part of the Klingon Empire, as well as the Romulan Empire, and the Federation.
It's a varied bunch of storylines which shows different perspectives admirably well. Combat can be a little hardcore as you figure out the best tactics to utilize, but there are good tutorials for guiding you through the paces. Customizing your ship as well as knowing what weapons to use and when is key here, in this combat focused strategy game.
Star Trek: Bridge Commander
Star Trek: Bridge Commander offers some cameos from beloved characters like Captain Picard and Commander Data but, for the most part, it's an individual story within the Star Trek universe. It revolves around a newly promoted captain who's been assigned to investigate an explosion of a star. You take command of the U.S.S. Dauntless as well as the U.S.S. Sovereign.
The game is focused on ship based combat, much like Starfleet Command III, but it's a bit more accessible making it ideal for everyone who simply wants to feel in control of a Federation ship. You can interact with members of the bridge crew before opting to take the lead via the combat simulation screen. It's an older game but one that's aged well, providing some great combat sequences that make you feel truly part of something bigger than yourself.
Star Trek: Trexels II
A lot of Star Trek games are reasonably serious. Star Trek: Trexels II isn't one of those games. Instead, it's gloriously casual friendly in nature. You take command of a federation ship before embarking on some fairly lightweight missions as you collect up all your favorite characters and build upon your ship's success.
Predictably, Star Trek: Trexels II is a mobile game that's free to play with options to buy extra content. It's the ideal game to dip into during a break from work as you can complete a mission in the space of a few minutes. It uses characters from all of the Star Trek universe and it's delightfully charming at times, even if it is very simple. If you're not a huge gamer but you're keen to try, this is the game for you.
Star Trek Legacy
Another strategy game but one that was available for consoles as well as PCs, Star Trek Legacy offered you the chance to control various different Federation starships across different eras in Star Trek history. How could you resist such variety? Those eras include the Enterprise era, Original Series, and Next Generation, with elements of Deep Space Nine and Voyager.
Admittedly, the game didn't review hugely well due to some issues with its control system, but we reckon it's still well worth any Star Trek fan's time. Being able to control such iconic ships as well as take part in reworked Starfleet history is gripping stuff, and it's enjoyable working through the storylines that unfold. Extensive voice work from all your favorite captains enriches the experience further.
Star Trek: Judgment Rites
The oldest game here, Star Trek: Judgment Rites features the Original Series cast in a series of episodic adventures. You control Captain Kirk as you talk it out with Spock, McCoy and the rest of the crew, before embarking on away team missions that can spark some combat sequences along the way.
Part adventure, part action, it's a great way of feeling part of The Original Series and far too few games embrace the original days of Star Trek in such a way. The full principal cast is included here and it also features the last time that DeForest Kelley plays McCoy.
Best of all, each episodic story is suitably entertaining and captures the spirit of The Original Series well. It may be tricky to track down nowadays but it's a worthwhile endeavor.
Star Trek: Birth of the Federation
A tough but rewarding strategy game, Star Trek: Birth of the Federation is a 4X turn-based strategy game - typically regarded as a more complex route than other games of this ilk. That means you're going to have to put some effort into learning it but if you're a fan of The Next Generation, it's worth it.
The game was intended to tie-in with Star Trek: Insurrection with you taking control of one of five civilizations - Federation, Ferengi, Klingons, Romulans, or Cardassians. There's room too for thirty other races from Star Trek, each playing a more minor role along the way.
There's a lot to take in as you establish diplomatic ties with other races, as well as work out how to extend your reach and what to do with new star systems, so Star Trek: Birth of the Federation can be very complex. However, stick with its steep learning curve and it's fantastic for making you feel truly part of the Star Trek atmosphere. Its attitude is perfectly in key with the diplomacy of The Next Generation.
Jennifer Allen (she/her) is a freelance journalist who has written for Playboy, Mashable, and Eurogamer amongst others. She lives in South Wales with her three guinea pigs and cat. Find her on Twitter @jenjeahaly