Resonance of Fate Review
Stylish combat that is as challenging as it is exciting provides the backbone for this great role-playing game.
- Unique combat mechanics require a lot of strategy to succeed
- Challenging enemies put up a fight without being cheap
- Quirky story provides laughs and drama
- Exploration injects light puzzle solving
- Stays interesting all the way through the lengthy adventure.
- Lack of visual variety
- Combat is difficult to grasp.
The first time you fall in battle you will assume it's a fluke. How could a normal, low-level enemy triumph over your team of gun-toting heroes? The second time you fall, you will grit your teeth, wipe your brow, and rush right back into the fray. The third time, you will realize that rushing into battle is a fool's folly, but even with careful planning and well-executed shooting, you will find the life sapped from your protagonists' bodies. But when you finally are victorious in that fourth battle, exploiting your enemies' weaknesses while keeping yourself out of harm's way, the spoils of war will be so much more than the gold, weapons, and other assorted loot you greedily swipe from your downed opponents. The real reward comes from knowing you overcame the punishing obstacles that stood in your path by learning and adapting to your enemies' attacks. Resonance of Fate is an unforgiving adventure, but its tactical combat is so fluid and engaging that you will be sucked into this world until you finally destroy the last enemy who stands in your path.
Climate once again reveals itself as man's greatest enemy. In the distant future, violent weather patterns have destroyed the human race's opportunity to live on the soil of the earth. The solution? Erect a giant tower in the sky, above all the churning chaos down below, and give up any chance to ever again smell the flowers and sit beneath a tree. Sacrificing nature to continue to live may sound like a fair trade, but the resulting society is ravaged by monsters, poverty, and cardinals who posit that killing god is the only way to be truly free. The story in Resonance of Fate is told in a drawn-out, stilted way that only reveals its agenda dozens of hours into your quest. You control a party of three adventurers, and instead of striving to save the world as is typical in the genre, you partake in a series of seemingly unrelated jobs for various townsfolk. Delivering presents, retrieving a long-lost ring, and finding a bottle of well-aged wine may sound like insulting duties for heroes, but these odd tasks do add up to something tangible.
What makes this story engaging even before your ultimate goal becomes clear is that the characters are well-developed and easy to relate to. Vashyron is the leader of your party. His sarcastic quips make him the go-to source for levity, but his motivating force is choice. He is a strong believer in letting people carve their own path through life, and his reluctance to intervene allows the others characters to grow. Zephyr is not happy being the innocent bystander. He is sullen and angry in the face of adversity but does not rest until things are put back correctly. The last member of your party is Leanne. She starts the game as an impressionable wallflower but exhibits an uncanny maturity when her terrible secret comes to light. Resonance deals with weighty issues, but many of the cutscenes have a comical, lighthearted tone. The most memorable of these cinemas is one in which Vashyron is so overcome by the beauty of his employer that he cannot keep his dancing desires bottled up. This mix of silly and serious helps keep things interesting, and the solid voice acting and believable dialogue mask the story's exceedingly slow pace.
The story may be doled out in bite-size chunks to keep you hungry, but the combat is not nearly so stingy. Every facet of this complicated battle system is available from the very beginning, and the perfunctory tutorial is little help in piecing together the esoteric mechanics you need to succeed. It takes an hour or more to come to grips with the basics, and you will still be discovering tricks and strategies dozens of hours into your journey. Resonance does not spend time holding your hand by offering up sacrificial lambs, either. From the feisty first battle until the harrowing boss fight at the end of the adventure, the game pushes your limits and challenges your skills in every fight. This sink-or-swim approach presents a steep learning curve, but if you stick with this game past the rocky beginning, you will find a deeply satisfying experience.
The combat is centered on movement and positioning, forcing you to analyze the various pieces of cover, explosive barrels, and other obstacles littering the battlefield as you try to outmaneuver your enemies before they get the jump on you. The mix of real-time and turn-based combat gives you plenty of time to plan your attack, but once the action begins, you need to slam on buttons and make pinpoint adjustments that make this feel as intense and exhilarating as an action game. The key components of this fantastic system are hero moves. These allow you to set up waypoints in the arena, and once you begin your move, you character runs along a preset line while you jump and fire in real time. Hero moves are the most effective way to take down an enemy, but you can only pull off this fancy technique a limited number of times. If you do it too often, you enter a state of panic in which your attacks are weaker and your defenses are lower, all but guaranteeing you will end up on the losing side.
The challenge comes from figuring out the ideal way to move around the arena to have the best chance of unleashing mayhem while staying just out of reach to avoid a retaliatory blow. Your foes cannot run and jump like you can, but they have a variety of deadly attacks that make it imperative that you hide behind cover or position yourself high above them so they cannot strike you. All too often, you find yourself greatly outnumbered. Taking on three grass yetis is difficult enough, but when they team up with five deadly guards from the cardinal's personal entourage, your odds of victory are skewing dangerously close to insurmountable. The trick is figuring out how to separate your opponents into manageable groups, forcing you to continually move around the arena so you avoid taking big damage while still dishing out enough of your own. To help even the odds a bit, you have a cache of grenades as well as a bevy of elemental bullets to play with. Losing can be frustrating, but all of your problems fade away when you light that insufferable yeti on fire with a Molotov cocktail.
It takes a long time to figure out the intricacies of battle, but Resonance is a blast even before you piece every tantalizing element together. This game simply exudes style. The cinematography used during hero actions is so over-the-top and exciting to watch that it makes battles a joy to take part in, even when you're getting beaten down by a goblin in a drum barrel for the fifth straight time. The camera pans around your character as you sprint headlong toward your enemy, setting up an angle low to the ground so you feel the pounding footsteps as you near your prey. In a flash, you begin to slide, reaching behind your back to nab your gun as you contort your body to line up a deadly blast. You can knock your enemy high into the air with a few concussive blows, and seeing him dangle above the earth as his rag-doll limbs flop pitifully around is sickly satisfying. If you decide to jump, your character performs twists and flips with ease. Once airborne, you can slam your enemy into the turf, causing him to rise and fall with such force that the screen shakes and armor sheds from his crippled body. Resonance revels in the majesty of flight and never shies away from the intense pain your bullets are capable of, making fights mimic the sadistic thrills most commonly found in pure action games.