Star Trek: Legends is one of those games I didn't know I needed in my life until I saw it; captains and crew from every generation of the show coming together in a turn-based role-playing game. Dr. Phlox does Final Fantasy, Dukat's Dragon Quest - you get the picture - essentially, an idea I'm astonished I didn't dream up sooner.
It's not exactly that, obviously, but to my surprise, placing Star Trek characters into an RPG like this works. Character quirks translate into abilities pretty well, as combat sees you trade blows with Romulans, Klingons and other notable factions during a series of away missions.
Battles are simple but snappy affairs - each encounter takes 30 seconds to a minute to complete - and though you can brute force your way through a fair amount of them, things get interesting when you explore its range of buffs and status effects. My favourite is morale, where not only can foes flee from battle if demoralised enough, but can see you follow up with a bonus attack if yours is particularly high.
For example, I've engineered my party so McCoy gives Riker a stim at the start of battle, so after he sprays the field with bullets to clear away most adversaries in one go, Worf or Torres will likely then wade in to pick off any stragglers - a set up which is carrying me through most battles so far.
That's not to say you can rest on your laurels; you can't revive fallen crew between missions, so keeping an eye on health bars and having your doctor on standby is essential. If things do go awry, the five to 10 minute length of each run means it's little bother to try again - and simple branching paths, which can open up new routes based on your team composition, means you can do things a little different next time.
Meanwhile, the overarching story is pretty light - there's some woolly premise of the Nexus returning and timelines coming together - but when the end result is Worf having to explain who the Cardassians and the Borg are to a confused Burnham, you're more than happy to go along for the ride.
The away missions are good fun, but where I'm butting heads with Star Trek: Legends is the systems around them. This is a game that was seemingly designed to be free-to-play at some point - whether things changed when it came to Apple Arcade, which forbids microtransactions, or whether there's still a release planned with them in I don't know - but it still means jumping through hoops and waiting on timers to unlock certain characters and abilities.
Some of these things I don't mind. I enjoy lining up crew members to go on shuttle missions while I'm not playing for bonus rewards and resources, but others, such as cooldowns on store purchases which can help level your party, can feel like artificial ways to slow down progress.
There's also a gacha system for unlocking new crew members, which I'm torn on. Though the game doles out enough decent characters through story missions, achievements and seasonal events without needing to rely on it, a select few - at least early in the game - appear to be locked behind it, which is frustrating when you're looking to amass your fantasy away team.
At the very least, the resource it requires (which is, again, earned entirely in-game) flows in steadily so you can try your luck regularly, and the system takes place in the transporter room, with each character taking a few moments to materialise each time - admittedly, a pretty nice touch.
As it stands, a handful of hours in, I'm getting along with Star Trek: Legends's freemium-but-not systems well enough - so much that they only occasionally get in the way of a game that's otherwise phaser targeted to my interests. With more events and missions on the way, I'm interested to see how expansive the roster can get - but at the very least I won't stop until Janeway (who is, for the record, the best captain) beats the odds and finally beams into my ship.