All hands on desk! PCG plays the best Star Trek game you've never heard of: Artemis Spaceship Bridge Simulator
T’om, Son of Martyn: I open with attack pattern delta, also known as attack pattern fire-anuke- and-yell-frantically-at-the- helm-to-bank-right, and it does serious damage to the whole group. Then I start picking them off one by one with torpedoes and weapons, Graham relaying the right frequencies for each ship in turn.
Somewhere in the middle of this I realise that I can manually target my beams on certain systems. I try to knock out the enemy engines so they can’t escape. Resistance is futile, little red dot men.
Uhurich: As the rest of the crew do important things such as flying and shooting and stopping us from being sucked out into the cold vacuum of space to have our eyeballs shatter, I’m aiming staccato insults at our targets. Boom! We blow out their primary beam. “You suck at cricket!” Bang! We knock out their forward shield. “That shirt makes you look like a Ferengi!”
As we destroy our third ship, I realise there’s another dialogue option next to my insults: ‘Surrender.’ I decide to aim it at the fourth ship in our gunsights. Immediately, they give up and limp off. I keep my remorse for the souls we’ve already killed quiet and systematically ask every other ship in the area to surrender. One we pummelled on the way in does, but the others keep up their barrage. Torpedoes hurtle toward us. Then there’s a crunch.
Science Officer Smith: “Shut up again! We’ve just been hit by something!”
Uhurich: “I’m theatrically swaying!”
Captain Tim: “Damage report!”
Captain Tim: “Can you be more specific please?”
O’Francis: “All the things! All the things are damaged.” We’ve lost everything – tactical, manoeuvring, front shields, rear shields, beam weapons, torpedoes. I guess we have engines. I set full power to engines.
Senior Ensign Senior: Somehow, our strategy of flying into our own thermonuclear explosion has again proven to be our downfall, but we’re not dead yet. Every system on the ship is failing except one. As long as the engines have power, there’s a way out. I set the warp slider to maximum and we blast away to the safety of the space station once again.
O’Francis: Unfortunately, docking does not automatically repair our ship. My screen – a schematic of the ship – is a mess of red dots, all concentrated on one half of the vessel. I show it to Smith.
“Look, all of this damage was done to the rear while you guys were asking me for full power to the front shields!”
Science Officer Smith: “That is the front of the ship.”
I’m trying to direct my repair teams around the ship’s corridors from this schematic view, but they keep refusing to move to critical systems. The last straw is when several members of one team die while walking between two undamaged sectors. When you can’t count on surviving an encounter with a corridor, you may not be Artemis’s best and brightest.
Eventually I figure it out: they have to repair non-critical ship sectors to get past them to the critical ones.
Captain Tim: “How long are these repairs going to take?”
O’Francis: “At least 25 minutes.”
Captain Tim: “OK.”
T’om, Son of Martyn: “You’re supposed to say it has to be done in half that.”
O’Francis: It is done in half that – it turns out that once I clear a few corridors, it gets a lot faster to move my crews around. I’m secretly really enjoying this – I had no idea the repair system was so involved. For the first time in my life I get to meaningfully say, “All systems nominal,” and we undock to engage the final group.
Science Officer Smith: I swing my scanners toward that final group and find out it’s more like a final one. Our parting nuke was enough to make our previous aggressors surrender. One unidentified tachyon source, coming right for us.
Captain Tim: “Weapons, arm nukes.”
T’om, Son of Martyn: “Nukes, sir? Are you sure? We can take him out with torpedoes.”
Captain Tim: “Nukes. Lovely, lovely nukes.”
Senior Ensign Senior: I undock the ship and set a course heading straight for the anomaly.
Uhurich: The unknown tachyon source is so unknown that I can’t communicate with it. I put it on Tim’s main screen to get a better look at it.
It looks like a normal cruiser, the weakest of the Torgath ships. Nukes are powerful enough to take down three in one blast. I remember our last nuking. This could get messy.
Captain Tim: A good captain remembers the times he almost led his crew into self-perpetrated nuclear doom and resolves to be more cautious in the future. “Science Officer, scan target. Helms, get us into nuke range. Weapons, prepare armament. Fire, then take us out of here at 300% warp.”
T’om, Son of Martyn: “Nuke fired.”
Captain Tim: “Engage!”
Science Officer Smith: Launched out of the sector at physically improbable speeds, I flick my scanners over to where the last Tachyon source had been. There’s nothing there now. There’s nothing on long-range scanners either. “I think that’s mission accomplished, captain.”
If you want to try the game out for yourself, you can buy it at the Artemis website.