Star Trek has never had the video game pedigree other Sci-Fi properties,
like Star Wars or Warhammer 40k, have enjoyed. For every well received Elite
Force or Bridge
Commander there are a dozen more Away Team and Borg waiting in the Briar
Patch. Sadly, Hidden Evil, a 1999
Presto Studios game, joins this unremarkable bunch. It is short, difficult to
control, and forgettable.
You may be forgiven for forgetting the great contribution Insurrection made
to the Star Trek canon. A film in which the best scene involves Data acting like a life preserver. To
be fair there is probably a decent
episode’s worth of material in the film, maybe a two-parter. Yet it loses
its way somewhere between Picard and crew becoming leather clad action heroes
and the enterprise being maneuvered by a joystick. Thus, it may surprise you to
realize this game is a sequel to that masterpiece. Our main character is Ensign
Sovok, a human raised by Vulcans. He joins Picard and Data on the planet of the
film to investigate a hitherto undiscovered alien artifact the Son’a and Ba’ku
found while constructing a colony. There is not much story to ruin as the game
is quite short, but suffice to say the Son’a still do not like the peace loving
Ba’ku, Romulans are evil, and the alien artifact is actually really dangerous.
It ends up being pretty well traveled territory, both by Star Trek’s and other
show’s standards. It is enough to move the plot along, but it will never
This is not an action game, despite what the publisher’s screenshots may
tell you. This is an adventure game in the same vein as Grim Fandango. Walk
around, collect items, solve some light puzzles, move the story forward, etc.
Fans of Fandango will find a similar awkward control scheme at work here. Sovok
controls much like that of a high schooler’s car: poor maneuverability, slow
acceleration, and no speed. This is a troubling foundation on which to base a
game that requires a fair amount of phaser shooting. There is some light
auto-aiming going on, but you still have to slowly rotate to face enemies. Your
best tactic is running in circles until they miss then trying to get a quick
shot off. This is if you can remember the key to select your phaser. All your
equipment (tricorder, communications badge, phaser, nerve pinch!) is accessed
via the number keys. This is functional, but every time I wanted to get at an
item I hit the wrong button. Most of these items end up being useless anyways,
occasionally you have to scan the environment, but it rarely tells you anything
interesting. Nerve pinch sounds cool, but it is ridiculously hard to get in the
right position to use it, and the enemy has to be unaware for it to work. Most
of the time you will be blasting away with your phaser. Occasionally you can
pick up a hypospray for healing or another equally powerful weapon, but for
most of the game what you start with is what you got.
Lengthwise You are looking at 9 missions, for about 5 hours of ok to
frustrating gameplay. Everything is pretty easy, except for the last two
missions which have you navigating corridors that look very similar. With no
minimap except for the weak imposter they use with the tricorder in the last
mission. Most of your time in these last two missions will be spent trying to
remember what is where.
An unexpected high point. Despite being released in 1999, the game looks
pretty decent. Backgrounds are static in the style of Myst and are suitably
detailed. Actual characters and objects are 3d models which, though rough, are
pretty good for the time in terms of detail and animation. It is a bit of
mishmash putting 3d characters in 2d paintings, but it works.
Nothing egregious here, Christopher Gorham, voice actor for Sovok gives an
unremarkable performance, backed up Patrick Stewart (Picard) and Brent Spiner
(Data). The actual plot does not give them much to work with, but you will not
be clawing your ears out either. The music is forgettable, but all the sound
effects from TNG are faithfully replicated. Phasers and transporters sound like
you would expect.
Overall, its a short game that is occasionally frustrating, but has a
decently moving story and some of your favorite TNG characters. I give it 5 Lt.
Cmdr. Datas out of 3 Stargazers.
1. If you are going to play this, I recommend this walkthrough. 2. This game
does run on Windows 7, but you must install the packaged version of Quicktime
player and install a NoCd crack. It also helps to run it in Windows 95
compatibility mode. 3. There is no quicksave, it was a 90s thing.