|Genre||Point and Science! adventure|
|Buy from Steam|
I’ve been spoiled this year having just been introduced to the Blackwell series and publisher Wadjet Eye Games. Before Resonance, I bought four Blackwell games, Gemini Rue, and The Shivah. Point and click adventure gaming was one of my earliest gaming passions, but I ended up almost completely ignoring the genre for the last 12 years. Now it’s a passion again, and all courtesy of one publisher.
Developed by Vince Twelve and published by Wadjet Eye Games, Resonance is a multi-character point and click adventure game featuring an engrossing story, unique interface, and thankfully, basically free of all the crappy genre trappings that pushed me away from games like this. It was one of the few games I allowed myself to hype up a bit this year, and the developers delivered.
If Resonance looks interesting to you, definitely check it out, it’s only $10 on Steam. Then play all the Blackwell games which can be grabbed in a four pack for $20. Not a bad deal at all. The best part about these games is that they were made in the free to use Adventure Games Studio, I’m scared to think about all the other awesome games out there that were made with this tool that I’m missing.
Here’s my spoiler free review of Resonance.
Resonance stars four unrelated people whose lives quickly cross and become entwined, very similar to the protagonists in Heavy Rain. The game opens up letting you pick which story you want to experience next, but it isn’t long until you have total control over all four characters. It is honestly overwhelming having all these people, a bunch of items, and a slew of puzzles to solve, especially when everyone has their own inventory and character exclusive items.
But Resonance makes managing everyone pretty simple, a simple click on a portrait switches characters, and inventories are easy use with large icons and descriptions. Resonance is a drag-and-drop friendly game, too, so transferring items is as easy as grabbing it out of your inventory and dropping it on someone else. This useful feature can be utilized throughout the game to combine items, use an inventory item on a field item, or remember memories.
The game features a unique type of inventory called memories. There are long-term and short-term memories, where long-term let you recall major story events and short-term are basically for referencing a particular item to someone in a completely different location. It’s a pretty ingenious system, and I may be showing my ignorance here hailing it as a first for the genre, but it really gives flexibility to the inventory system. Of course, you just feel that much more overwhelmed knowing that you can “use” items from another location in a conversation somewhere else.
There thankfully isn’t an over-reliance on trying to combine every item together until something sticks in Resonance, as most of the puzzles are grounded in the real world. The solution typically lends itself to the obvious answer that makes the most sense, but the challenge is obtaining the right item or memory for the job. You may very well know how to solve a puzzle, but it will take solving three more well-crafted problems before you can even attempt it.
Most issues also require the use of multiple characters, and while passing around items is simple, it can be a bit of a pain sometimes setting everything just right for a long sequence of events. One of the major puzzles in the game requires at least three of the characters, about ten items, and more than a dozen attempts to slowly flesh out the hidden obstacles in your path. It feels awesome to finally beat it, but running through the same sequence of events over and over again can grow tedious.
Resonance’s four main characters are written very well and feature excellent voice acting. The narrator of Bastion, Logan Cunningham, is behind one of them, but the other three are just as expertly cast. I can’t imagine how big the script for this game must have been, but the sheer number of interactions possible just between the starring four must have been huge. In some adventure games, I often found myself reading the subtitles ahead of the speaking and skipping dialogue when possible, but never in Resonance.
The rest of the game’s roles are well done, but nobody stands out that much in retrospect. Abe Goldfarb of the Blackwell series (Joey Mallone) makes a pleasing appearance, however. And to think, I didn’t like this guy’s voice at first.
An equally strong story doesn’t hurt anything, either. Without being spoilery, Resonance is written on both a personal and global level, and manages the balancing act pretty well. There’s a lot of science in the game and it never feels fake or made up, but Vince Twelve made sure to keep the characters as the driving force. It can be a tough game to play at times, and there are certain nightmarish sequences that had me shaking at my desk, but it all pays off very well in the end.
Resonance isn’t afraid to break from the standard point and click adventure fare at times, featuring puzzles that impressed me with how powerful Adventure Games Studio is. But credit should go to where it is due, and Vince Twelve and Wadjet Eye Games have really taken the genre to new heights. Its non-obtuse and genuinely interesting puzzles are one thing, but the slick interface really stands out. It feels so much less like the adventure games of old and more like a game this decade would produce, even if the graphics are straight from the mid-90s (but don’t get me wrong, I love this style and it fits the game great).
One final and excellent feature is the instant rewind upon death. I've never been fond of adventure games that you can actually lose at, and while Resonance includes many ways for one or more of the characters to bite the dust, the game will immediately rewind to the action taken before their death. This is really the best of both worlds: the game features legitimate dangers, but the punishment for dying isn't severe at all. No worries about constant saving, plus it's entirely too satisfying seeing certain characters squashed by giant crates.
You don’t want to miss this game, especially at the ridiculously priced $10. Resonance is a thought-provoking, genre-evolving, masterstroke in adventure gaming. Vince Twelve poured himself into the game for years and it shows. Wadjet Eye Games helped bring it together at the end and their talent and experience is also evident. Resonance is unrivaled.