Memories and nightmares....
What Resonance Got Right
- + Thrilling story from multiple perspectives
- + Memory mechanic is fresh and exciting
- + Interesting puzzles
- + Changes up the classic adventure formula
What Resonance Got Wrong
- - A little short and easy
- - Overly reliant on short-term memory at times
It seems that the adventure genre is making a comeback in a big way; this year we've already had the excellent Walking Dead series from Telltale Games, and now Wadjet Eye Games have teamed up with xii games to deliver Resonance, a gritty sci-fi thriller that brings a breath of fresh air to the genre. Five years in the making, was Resonance worth the wait?
Check out the official trailer!
News reports show pandemonium in every major city as landmarks burn and crumble into piles of rubble. There are explosions happening all across the world, and no one seems to know why. These are the opening moments of Resonance, however the player will take control of the 60 hours before these events occur.
Knowing that your role will somehow amount to this kind of destruction immediately draws the player in as they take control of Ed, a scientist who is living the kind of lifestyle a struggling games journalist could relate to. He sleeps on a mattress on the floor, his microwave sits on the floor and he doesn't have any furniture. We quickly learn that Ed is working on some kind of secret project, and we're immediately introduced to his intellect and awkwardness which are certainly endearing.
Ed isn't the only character you will be controlling during the the four or so hours you spend with Resonance. You'll also have to contend with Anna; a young doctor who suffers from horrific nightmares, Detective Bennett who is a hardened cop with a "whatever it takes" attitude and finally Ray, a journalist who will go to the ends of the Earth to get a scoop, and detests being called a blogger. Throughout the adventure these four characters become reliant on each other, and the player will need to utilise their skill sets to complete certain tasks, but more on that in a moment.
The story isn't overly deep, but it offers thrills, with the four leads actually driving real interaction.
What really stands out is the dynamics displayed between each of the four characters. Ed and Anna are the brainy ones while Ray and Bennett don't mind getting their hands dirty for the right outcome. Each of the four characters are extremely relatable and offer up a realistic performance that is backed up by great voice-acting. Did we mention that a cast member from Bastion makes an appearance?
As the story progresses you will learn the secrets of Juno Labs, Anna's past and the secrets Aventine City. The story isn't overly deep, but it offers thrills, with the four leads actually driving real interaction. You'll witness awkward banter, failed pick-up attempts and how four strangers can bond together through a singular event.
While the game chronicles the events leading up to the opening scenes, it lets you explore them at your own leisure thanks to the character select screen. The player is given a black and white picture cut into four quarters. Each picture represents a character, and the player can click on the quarter they are most interested and start there. It's a simple mechanic, but it allows you to feel like you are in control of the adventure at hand.
Often two or more characters will be present in the same scene, and the player will rely on both characters to solve the task at hand. It's a neat mechanic, one that I haven't encountered in many adventure games over the years. One particular puzzle featured Ed and Bennett. Ed was too weak to operate a valve, so I had to hand Bennett the tools. Ed was nimble enough to access an area that Bennett's larger body couldn't and using both characters I was able to solve the problem. It may seem like something simple, but using multiple characters to come to a resolution is a rewarding experience.
You've got red on you....
Despite multiple solutions for some puzzles, and the fact that you have four characters solving them, Resonance rarely throws anything too challenging at you. The game can be completed on a rainy Sunday afternoon, and the difficulty seems a little on the easy side. If you can't work something out, a quick discussion about elements in the room will quickly point you in the right direction. It's not necessarily a bad thing, but for adventure veterans you may ben longing for something a little more challenging.
The major drawcard is the memory mechanics. During the game you have access to Long-Term and Short-Term memory, which will actually come in handy when solving problems. Important conversations will sit in your LTM, allowing you to re-live them and discover information that you may have missed. Any item in the game can be dragged into your STM, and then you can drag those memories out into your conversations, pushing the characters to discuss that item. It's an innovative feature, one that I'd personally love to see in more adventure games from here on in.
It seems that the developers grew an over reliance on the mechanic however, as it seems you need to use the memories all the time. Despite the character having a "EUREKA!" moment, the very next conversation they have to follow it up it seems they have forgotten all about it and I'll need to drag it out of my STM. It's not game breaking, but it does become a little tedious towards the end.
The Final Verdict
Resonance may be over before you know it, but it's one hell of a ride. Featuring a unique memory system that really sets the bar high for adventure games from this moment on, a cast of characters who feel truly human and an interesting, albeit lightweight story, if you're a fan of classic adventures, you should really check this one out.
By Stephen Heller - Bio