Saturday, May 25, 2013

Resonance (Review)

It took quite some time, a lot of devotion and a kickstarter campaign to make Resonance a reality, but this is not the only reason this indie game is a pretty unique case. Resonance is a 3rd person point-and-click adventure game in its purest form. Above all, the game is an homage to the classic adventure games of the 90s.

Every single aspect of Resonance, including the music, the storyline, the atmosphere, and yes, the graphics, looks and feels like something Sierra would have created 17 years ago. The developers decided to defy every current video game trend and the notion that adventure games are a “dying genre” and create a purely old-school title.

The story has a Sci-Fi theme, taking place in the near future, when the not-so-accidental death of brilliant scientist Dr. Morales triggers a series of events revolving around a new and dangerous technology that he has discovered. The first unique feature of the game is that it has four different protagonists; Ed, a nerdy scientist working for Dr. Morales, Ray, a reporter who doesn't hesitate to use a couple of dirty tricks in order to get his story, Detective Bennet, a middle-aged cop who has his own ways of getting the job done, and Anna, a young doctor and also Dr. Morales’ niece. After learning about this hazardous new technology and the tremendous potential it has to either do a lot of good or cause a huge disaster, the four heroes begin working together in order to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands and avoid an imminent catastrophe. After the brief introduction of each character, the player takes control of all four and can switch between them whenever they want. However, a large number of actions can only be executed by specific characters, as they possess the necessary skill or authority to complete certain tasks.

Resonance has been in development for quite a while but this is not necessarily a bad thing as it soon becomes evident that the creators paid great attention to detail. The voice actors do an excellent job in portraying their characters, making them sound both believable and natural. The story, though it is based on the usual international conspiracy scenario, is well written and the way it unfolds through the experiences of the four characters is interesting to say the least. On the downside, the whole chain of events is supposed to escalate on a global level, but most of the time this is implied and not shown. Additionally, not all characters are well developed; giving a few more background details would have helped the player care more about them and understand their perspectives. Nevertheless, all four characters are unique, with different personalities, approaches and skills, and a major twist which occurs near the end of the game is believable enough, yet not that easy to predict. Another pleasant surprise about the game is the soundtrack. Composer Nikolas Sideris has managed to create a great score – including a noteworthy end-credit song – which not only suits the game’s theme very well, but also manages to maintain the whole retro feeling of the title.

As a classic old-school adventure game, Resonance has its fair share of puzzles. Fortunately, almost all of them are interesting and challenging enough in order to keep the player intrigued, and at the same time they are completely rational, so with some logical thinking one should be able to get through the game without ever needing a walkthrough. A great and innovative aspect of the game is the memory system. This new feature allows the player to not only store items in their inventory but memories as well. The long term memory (LTM) feature automatically stores important events which have occurred, allowing the player to view them again, use them in conversations and of course to solve a few puzzles. The short term memory (STM) feature on the other hand allows the player to make their own selection, storing items, parts of the environment or faces to a separate menu and using them in a similar way as with the LTM. The only problem during gameplay is that, although the control of four different characters is brilliantly executed, it can become tiring at times when the player has to use more than one character in order to go through a certain action. This of course is quite logical, as characters have different inventories and different STM lists. On the plus-side, a couple of frustrating puzzles have alternative ways of being solved (or avoided), but this of course gives you a lower score in the game’s point system.

Judging Resonance for its graphics and overall appearance is a tricky task, as the game looks 20 years old on purpose. On one hand, the essence of old-school adventure games is captured very well. There is certainly a fair share of different environments, from Ed’s messy apartment to a big hospital and a lab destroyed by an explosion; all of the game’s areas are full of detail and it is obvious that Vince Twelve and his team invested many hours in perfecting their project. The one major issue concerning the graphics is that they seem to suffer under higher resolutions. There are a few filtering and anti-aliasing options, allowing the game to be played in numerous different resolutions, as well as an option to smoothen the pixilated graphics which unfortunately makes the game way too blurry when run in full screen. However, the windowed mode is just as fine and the game runs perfectly in almost every system.

Resonance was certainly a pleasant surprise. Although it is an indie title created by a small team with little budget, no aspect of the game lacks in detail or quality. Though it is not clearly stated, there are a few different endings the player can get based on the dialogue choices they make during the final scenes. These choices have a few significant consequences which are revealed at the very end. On the other hand, a seemingly important choice that the player gets to make during the game has no consequence at all, making the whole option rather unnecessary. Even if there is room for improvement, Resonance unquestionably does not disappoint. The game has a solid story, interesting characters and pleasantly challenging puzzles. Any fan of adventure games, whether they do remember the 90s or not, will certainly enjoy playing it, especially as so few good adventure games come out each year and as its price is already significantly low.

Overall: 85/100 

Originally written for New Game Network

Resonance (Review)
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