East Side Games Group, in collaboration with Paramount Consumer Products has released Star Trek Lower Decks: The Badgey Directive on iOS and Android.
Using characters and settings from the popular Star Trek: Below Decks animated series, The Badgey Directive is an idle game, but is it any good? Here’s what we think.
What Is Star Trek Lower Decks: The Badgey Directive?
The premise for The Badgey Directive is as follows: the Lower Decks crew of the U.S.S. Cerritos have finished their duty roster, and are ready to go to a party. But they can’t until they’ve completed holodeck training.
Unfortunately, a rogue AI named Badgey (who happens to be a giant badge) has turned off all the safety protocols. So the player must now guide the characters through a variety of episodes that draw inspiration from the Star Trek universe. Borgs, Klingons, Terragenesis, Q, and Tribbles all feature at some stage. If the crew fail, they will die.
The Importance of Being Idle
Star Trek Lower Decks: The Badgey Directive is an idle game. If you’re familiar with these, then it won’t need explaining. But to the uninitiated, an idle game is, as the name suggests, one which doesn’t require the player to constantly interact with it.
You start earning merit points, and can reach a point in each level where this becomes an automatic process. Come back a few hours later, and you’ll find that you’ve accrued millions, billions, trillions, or more merit points, which allow you to progress through the game.
It is free to play, but players do have the option of making purchases of items such dilithium crystals and latinum, which can then be used to upgrade characters faster, and in turn accelerate the acquisition of merit points, and game progression.
Graphically, it is entirely faithful to the animated series that lends its name to the game. There isn’t much by way of music, more just beeps and other “sciency” sound-effects, which are…fine.
The game runs smoothly enough, and we didn’t experience any performance issues. But then again, it isn’t a fast-paced game where any of that would really matter. Although we have seen reports from other players who have experienced problems with automations stopping, and facilities not progressing.
As far as the game itself is concerned, if you don’t like idle games, then this isn’t offering anything that will appeal to you. As is typical of the genre it is easy to access and understand. But it very quickly reaches a stage where progression slows down exponentially.
A Good Time, Or A Waste Of Time?
Initially, you’ll manage to complete a level in a few minutes or hours. But quite soon, you may need to wait for a day or more before you’ve acquired enough resource to progress. Unless, of course, you are prepared to part with real-world money to speed things up.
You also have the option of watching adverts to earn extra dilithium, or to earn double merit points for a fixed time. The ads themselves are intrusive, and quite irritating. They are also infuriatingly difficult to exit. This is one way of accruing extra resources more quickly, but it doesn’t make an enormous difference after a while.
For instance, when you need over 4 trillion points to acquire two extra crew members, double points don’t massively help.
In some ways, that’s entirely the point of idle games. They are perfect for a player who wants to spend a few minutes dipping in, making sure everything is running, and then getting on with the rest of their lives.
But if you want to make progress, the mechanics can become tedious very quickly. There are cut scenes after you reach certain milestones mid-level. But these aren’t particularly humorous or revelatory. And they don’t provide enough relief to justify the tedium of waiting for them.
As an idle game, it pretty much does what you’d expect. Fans of Lower Decks, or Star Trek more generally, may appreciate some of the in-game references.
For those wanting a game that needs more involvement, Star Trek Lower Decks: The Badgey Directive offers little.