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STO: Skirmish And Shivers

October 18, 2010

Note: Mild spoilers.

Star Trek Online weekly Feature Episodes are back with a new story arc featuring the Devidians! The first episode “Skirmish” debuted Saturday, and I’m just going to come right out and say it:

It scared the crap out of me.

Now, I’m no squeamish gamer, but there’s something to be said about letting down your guard and allowing yourself to get completely drawn into a scary story. Like, just for little while, forget to be brave and just shamelessly feed your fears; it makes things like horror movies and campfire ghost stories that much more enjoyable. And apparently, the same goes for STO weeklies as well.

Not that I had to try very hard to let myself get creeped out by the latest episode. Of course, playing it in the silence and darkness of a late night helped too. I knew as soon as I beamed into the burnt out hull of that Cardassian ship that something bad was going to happen. The loose steam jets and flickering lights of the dying ship threw all kinds of strange shadows on the wall, and for a second, scenes from the Alien movies flashed before my eyes, I kid you not.

And at this point, I want to clarify that STO is a family game and not supposed to be scary at all, which makes this episode even more impressive. The developers have set the mood perfectly, and the writing has been much improved. I felt jittery when I saw the dead Cardassians in their cells and read about the manner of their deaths. A blanket of dread descended upon me when all of a sudden, the pallid face of my tactical officer popped up on my screen with the question, “Did you see that?!” And when the first bluish wisp of a Devidian floated by in the doorway in front of me, I got shivers down my spine.

Excellent, Cryptic. Just excellent.

As for the Devidians, I can’t say I’m too familiar with them. Which made the episode even better, to be honest. But more importantly, I discovered that they’re quite fun to fight, especially the Phantasm “boss” at the end, which I was surprised to see. Strong heals will get you through that fight no problem, and I just plugged away at him until he died.

What’s neat is that the Devidians have this really nasty hold that incapacitates you and lifts you clear off the ground, so you hang there like some grisly victim of an exorcism film. The first time I saw that happen to my character, I didn’t know whether to be excited or frustrated.

Though I'm sure the novelty will wear off after the first few dozen times.

Clearly, I enjoyed this episode. The only complaint I have is that the game crashed several times during this mission, which I thought was just me but apparently other people have been having these issues as well. As for the gameplay though, everything was just fantastic. I hope the next few installments will be in this same vein (something tells me it would, to coincide with the Halloween season) because I enjoy the feeling of being creeped out. I was just pleasantly surprised to find it in a STO mission…but then again, STO has been very good at delivering many pleasant surprises lately.

14 comments

  1. You make that sound very cool. Star Trek is a great vehicle for telling many kinds of stories, so I’m glad Cryptic has embraced that.


    • All these episodes thus far have also felt very “Star Trek-y”, so I agree. Not only has Cryptic embraced it, I think they have become quite good at it.


  2. I didn’t find it that scary, but it was fun. Not nearly as scary as getting jumped by a skeleton in Minecraft.


    • Getting ambushed by a skeleton in Minecraft can make me jump and the moans they make can be pretty disconcerting, but this STO episode creeped me out even if it wasn’t scary in an in-your-face sort of way. It’s more chilling, in a pervasive sense.


  3. Yeah, does seem like they seem to “get” the whole narrative thing.


    • And I think the weeklies is a good format for that. I never realized Cryptic had it in them until these feature episodes allowed them to tell a longer and more in depth story.


  4. Sounds fun and creepy! I love it when developers add in some creepy stuff to get us jumping around every turn hehe. Very cool screen shots.


    • Makes me wonder if Cryptic will do anything special for Halloween…but if not, I could use more of this 😛


  5. Where do you start to missions? Been trying to find out but couldn’t…


    • Go to Eta Eridani, you should see a comm button on the right hand side (Drake is the conact, I think) similar to how the Deferi missions worked.


    • Heh, don’t worry, I had trouble finding out myself. The only reason I thought to check Eta Eridani was because I saw a podcast mentioning that the mission took place in the neutral zone.


  6. !ack! I need to get on and do this. It may push me over into Admiral. Too many good things going on IRL for me right now. 😀


    • Go go go! We can always use another admiral 😀


      • Maybe we’ll finally get around to doing STF’s.



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