Resonance Review

Inconsistent writing and shallow characterizations keep this adventure game from fully resonating.

by

Adventure game specialist Wadjet Eye burst onto the indie gaming scene last year with its engaging game Gemini Rue, which received rightful praise for its creative design. Unfortunately, Wadjet Eye's follow-up effort, Resonance, isn't in the same class in terms of writing, puzzles, and fun. This is a shame because Resonance includes some promising innovations to gameplay for graphic adventures.

Silly desk chair, get off the ceiling this instant!

For example, rather than simply having an inventory of physical items, characters (you play four different ones throughout the game) have an inventory of memories, too--both long- and short-term. Long-term memories are major plot points that each character has witnessed; these can be recalled for hints in-game (such as remembering a secret knock) or can be used as part of the game's conversation system to discuss memories from a given character's perspective.

Short-term memory is even more interesting, allowing you to make use of items in an area that you couldn't carry with you in somewhat the same way as you'd use inventory items or long-term memories. Want to ask someone about a giant slab of concrete blocking a door? Just drag the concrete into your short-term memory, and you can use it as a topic of discussion or as a way to ask someone for help with moving it. The memory system adds a new way that characters can interact with and make use of their environments and experiences, and such interaction feels much more natural than the usual "combine syrup with cat hair to make mustache"-type adventure game puzzles.

Tread lightly around cubicle workers. They've been known to bite.

Unfortunately, such puzzles do exist in Resonance, though at the beginning of the game they're no more than a minor annoyance. Once you get past the initial introductory stage and into the meat of the adventure, however, you find yourself controlling four separate individuals, switching back and forth between them to solve some fairly basic, combinatory puzzles. Sometimes you need your group to be together, sometimes you need it to be separated, and sometimes it doesn't matter. And that's confusing.

Solving puzzles is often a question of having the right couple of folks--out of a group of four--in the right place, with the right items on them (they can exchange items, but not memories, with each other). But it's hard to know which people to take with you before the fact. Sure, it makes sense that you should take the cop to the police station, but who else should come with him? Should you take the attractive girl to distract the front-desk guy, or the annoying hacker dude to break into the computers? Mostly you figure this out through trial and error, and lots of it, and that means the middle section of the game takes way longer than it should.

The flames around the graffiti signify hell, but he's got a halo around his head. Who knows what to believe?

But even in Resonance's better-paced sequences (the multi-character deal is abandoned about three-quarters of the way through the game), there are so many outright nonsensical things that happen that you just can't get involved in the story. Half-baked writing abounds in Resonance, with plot point after plot point relying on silly contrivances (and several outright unexplained occurrences) materializing out of nowhere to move the story along--and then being dropped entirely from discussion.

In one scene, for example, the main characters come upon a note that throws suspicion on one of them, specifically naming him as someone not to trust. This causes the other three to knock him out and tie him up. Later the characters' mistrust is shown to be a misunderstanding, but who left the implicating note, how that person knew this character's name (or even that he existed), and how the note showed up just at the critical moment are never addressed.

Such facile contrivances are also used to create excuses for the characters to solve puzzles in the game, something that's sure to break any sense of involvement and continuity. At one point, for instance, you need to convince a security expert to hand over some files about a vault he built, but he refuses to reveal his clients' private information because of his ethical concerns and his understanding that it might mean his livelihood if his lack of discretion were to become public knowledge.

Stop thinking and start doing!

However, if you can solve the mysteries of some farkakta "puzzle box" that just happens to be sitting in his office, well then you're a kindred spirit, and the character instantly forgets any ethical or commercial concerns and spills the beans. That kind of about-face characterization simply doesn't ring true, even in a genre where you have to expect some contrivances to work in puzzles.

And speaking of characters who don't ring true, Resonance features characters--both primary and secondary--that seem designed to fill some kind of stereotype grab bag. At one point at the beginning of the game, you run into Saul, a vaudevillian caricature of the "New York Jew," complete with a terrible approximation of a Crown Heights accent and a bad case of logorrhea. You get to play as Anna, a Latina who conspicuously pronounces anything Spanish-sounding as Spanish-ly as possible, despite the fact that flashbacks to her childhood show Anna and her family speaking English.

Remember, it's not a real stakeout without greasy hamburgers.

And then there's Ray, the only black character in the game, who trots out the expected "What do you mean 'you people?'" at one point, just in case you weren't thinking about his race for a few minutes. The problem isn't that these moments are offensive, but that they demonstrate the degree to which Resonance's script relies on cliches to fill in for real characterization and personal development.

It's not just the characters, though, that fall flat. Much of the dialogue is also weak, both in and of itself and with regard to how it fits in with Resonance's scenes. One particularly egregious example of this will stick out in your mind: After Anna has witnessed the gruesome and traumatic death of her uncle, she and another character engage in banter that breaks the sense of gravitas Anna's experiences have established and replaces it with a tonally obtuse taste of silliness. This is also one of Resonance's many examples of unnecessary dialogue, which adds little to your enjoyment and just ends up padding the length of the game. Of course, padding the length might well be the plan, because Resonance ends up being fairly short (an experienced adventure gamer should be able to complete it in six hours or less, despite the padding).

A low point in anyone's life.

The weakness of the writing is a shame in Resonance's case, because apart from that, the game doesn't have a lot wrong with it. Sure, the graphics max out at 640x480 and aren't going to win any 2D animation awards, but the music is solid, the voice acting (with the exception of Saul) is decent, and the gameplay brings several eminently cool innovations to the genre. The puzzles, both the traditional, graphic-adventure ones and the "Professor Layton" ones, are sometimes clever and grow well out of the storyline without feeling contrived (as in one sequence where you need to figure out how to realign a document retrieval device) and are sometimes lame and artificial (as in one sequence where you need to get all your characters through a series of powerful magnets).

But in adventure games, at least, writing is paramount. The mild positives of Resonance are simply outweighed by the major negative of its poor writing. It's both surprising and disappointing that this is the case, given the strength of Gemini Rue, but hopefully the designers and writers at Wadjet Eye will snap back to form on their next game.

The Good
Some clever puzzles
Innovative "memory" system
Good music
The Bad
Poorly conceived and written
Puzzles are often contrived or confusing
5
Mediocre
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0 comments
9thheretic
9thheretic

You, my friend, are idiot. No offence but you just didn't pay the slightest attention to the plot. For example - "How that person knew this character's name (or even that he existed), and how the note showed up just at the critical moment are never addressed" - that means you didn't ask the cop about it! Why praise the Memory Dialogue system if you clearly didn't use it, for God's sake! 

And about offensive cliches. What's Your problem? How they are offensie? Accents? I know English perfectly and still got Russian accent - if someone tries to mimic Me, I won't be offended. Russian IS My native after all. Plus - You are overreacting. "Despite the fact that flashbacks to her childhood show Anna and her family speaking English" - yeah, but in the same Spanish-sounding manner!

And what about "silly" and "illogical" moments, for example "However, if you can solve the mysteries of some farkakta "puzzle box" that just happens to be sitting in his office, well then you're a kindred spirit, and the character instantly forgets any ethical or commercial concerns and spills the beans". Well, the guy IS a bit of Weirdo! It was not out of character!

People have indeed put Soul in this rather smart Adventure so please - don't mind the review, just embrace the Story.

nerdroc
nerdroc

Ignore this review.  This game is one of the most incredible experiences I have had with a video game.  With all due respect to the writer of this article, but I don't think he gave this game enough attention before writing this review.  The characters are in fact pretty complicated and in depth especially Anna.  If you love adventure games...Do yourself a favor and play this game.

Dvvarf1
Dvvarf1

I do completely agree with Avaniar. Clearly, Eric did not give the game enough attention. All of the described plot irregularities are solved in game, but you need to do something else to get the information. As for voicing - people don't usually complain about the same thing done in movies. Yes, of course the game is not perfect. For example, some puzzles are too non-intuitive and you end up just being annoyed by them. But it is not that bad.

Avaniar
Avaniar

I just bought this game in the Gog bundle and I came here to check this review, before and after playing it. I know I may be too harsh to say this but this review is all wrong. And fan boyish posts like Gelugon_Baat's are just poor attempts at defending the undefensible. The story is great, not confusing or convoluted in any way. It shocks me that a reviewer says that. I liked this game very much because of the small things and surprised you would discover and then thinking back you would put the pieces back together and think ohhh that makes sense so that's what it was all along. Eric clearly didn't pay attention to the story and gave a quick play of the game. What is said about a note with a name on it. It's totally obvious to me who had done it. And furthermore all the motivations behind it are clearly explained later. So this review is truly very poor. to give this game anything below a 7,5 is a crime. soundtrack is good, story is good, gameplay is superb. Puzzles are good, though some are just plain difficult to grip from the start.

glez13
glez13

While this game is an advancement in graphics and game mechanics over Gemini Rue, the story and mood it created never got me like Gemini Rue did. Still I don't know how GS gave it such a low score. :/

Brett_Gamesoul
Brett_Gamesoul

Good logical puzzles. Not too inane. Good use of multiple characters to solve those puzzles. Premise is interesting. Fills the adventure/puzzle game void that the bigger software gaming co's aren't filling. Multiple endings are refreshing and bold. I didn't like this game at the first room, but I'm glad I continued on. This game is memorable. I tend to play a lot of games and couldn't recollect half of them, but two months after finishing I thought of this game and thought I should mention it.

ttomm1946
ttomm1946

Gamespot reviewers seem to be lost when reviewing adventure games....Great game

KarlixASD
KarlixASD

I've just finished this game.. What can I say, being a fan of adventure games since 1991.. (wooow, so many years now) I just loved this one. I found it original in the way of memory management and interaction bewtween characters. The story was ok, it kept me playing till I finished it, I just needed to know more. Besides, the fact that there was no higlight of map items, that you could try many things not just a few clicks and solved it, that was great. I really enjoyed this game, was kinda tired of simple point and click that are no challenge at all. Also, puzzles were perfect, not easy, not hard as hell or totally unrelated (except maybe for the wire thing u.u). I don't consider that there are plot holes, everything is explained, maybe not as obvious as some other games, but well, that's another thing I liked about this one. I hate it when the game is continually higlighting everything, like you can't follow the story or have issues understanding it. That being said, I have to disagree with the reviewer. This is not a mediocre game, and for christ sake.. puzzles are not confusing at all unless you're 5 years old -.-

Anyway, if you're a fan of adventure games I would recommend you to try this one out. :)

RyuRanVII
RyuRanVII

I completely disagree with the reviewer. I don't think the plot was was poorly conceived and written  neither the puzzles felt contrived or confusing.

 

 

hostX9
hostX9

Don't know what is the problem with the plot itself, cause I didn't noticed anything unusual and as far as I have understand it all seems logical so I don't really agree with the last paragraph of this review which is a bit too subjective.

 

But if you feel to hear a second opinion on the game you can read my review. If you wish leave a comment in the blog where I've posted the same review as I did in the review section of GS. I would be glad to answer any questions.

kukumav
kukumav

Wow Eric...Please don't write reviews on this genre anymore, you have just lost all credibility. Resonance is a wonderful game guys, don't miss it because some "confused" critic didn't get it.

RealFabioSooner
RealFabioSooner

"In one scene, for example, the main characters come upon a note that throws suspicion on one of them, specifically naming him as someone not to trust. This causes the other three to knock him out and tie him up. Later the characters' mistrust is shown to be a misunderstanding, but who left the implicating note, how that person knew this character's name (or even that he existed), and how the note showed up just at the critical moment are never addressed."

 

If that is accurate it is a good enough reason alone to give a lesser score to this game. It's a point-and-click adventure after all, bad writing/narrative flow kills this kind of game as much as bad collision detection kills platformers and beat'em ups and so on.

 

Problem is, at this point gamers so accustomed to this kind of bad writing that they think things like these are of no consequence, or are minor. They're not. This is bad writing. I has nothing to do with laying everything out to the reader, but with meaning and reason. What's the point of building distrust among the main characters this way? Just to engage the reader/player? But how, if that never resolves? At best, this is padding (common in games for obvious reasons); at worst, it is a contrivance, just as the reviewer pointed out.

 

Also, kudos to Gamespot for not being afraid to criticize indie games. These days it seems goodwill wins over critical thinking everywhere, I'm fed up with it. There is a lot of bad writing, basic design, and empty pretentiousness in a lot of indie games, but since it's cool to go "against the system", people put up with a lot of stuff they'd never forgive in other titles - including bad writing like this. 

Jinxtah
Jinxtah

@nerdroc I couldn't agree more. The reviewer is pretty terrible, and probably shouldn't be allowed to review adventure games, or any games at all in the future. He couldn't be more wrong about this game. It was one of the best adventure games I've played in recent times, and to be honest at all (and I've played a lot through the years). 

Please ignore this review and do yourself a favor and grab this wonderful game. It's hard, but really amazing, and once you get how things work, you'll have a great experience.

KarlixASD
KarlixASD

@Gelugon_baat

If I hadn't played the game maybe I'd go and read, but as I said before, I played it, I liked it. It's ok if some pleople don't like it.. It's just a matter of what you like and what you don't. I'm just stating that what the reviewer said is not what I thought of the game after playing it. Thankfully I played it before reading the review. Now, if you want to know why I'm sharing my opinion here is for 2 reasons:

1) It's an opinion, just like the reviewer's.

2) As I really like reading gamespot now and then, I thought that maybe, some people after reading this review won't play the game at all, which would be a pitty if they really like this genre, as I found it quite good :)

 

I really don't care if someone doesn't like it, what I wrote was just a second opinion. Also, reviews are something I used to take into consideration for playing games (used to, not now as I got disappointed by some games that got really good reviews but weren't that good). But I don't disagree at all with the fact that it's a personal opinion about a game, just wanted to say "hey, I think different, I actually enjoyed it, I don't think it's a crappy game, and I dont agree with some things you (the reviewer) just said" that's all. 

 

Also, sorry if there are some grammar mistakes (o spelling or whatever) I don't speak english as first language. :)

 

Oh, and if you want to know more about the game, I encourage you to play it. At least then you could come and say "Hey, this game s***, for bla bla bla" and won't get discredited for not playing it. Anyway, I don't want to start anything here, just my 2 cents =) 

 

Have a nice day ! :D

 

patped
patped

 @Gelugon_baat Like I said before, I thought it was an ok story, not great. Therefore, I also don't agree with those articles saying "how sophisticated the plot is". Anyway, that's a matter of opinion only. And if you can't follow a videogame plot, I'm really sorry for you. And Gelugon, you really have a problem dude, you are discussing for several days now about a game you haven't even played. Get a girlfriend and try to lose virginity.

slayerSS-3
slayerSS-3

 @I_are_Cake Reviews are just that, its just  a single person opinion doesn't mean he/she is right.

AtlasXII
AtlasXII

 @RealFabioSooner

 "Also, kudos to Gamespot for not being afraid to criticize indie games."

 

I would've agreed with this, since no genre should have criticism-immunity, but at the same time it is very important to have a well researched review, which this isn't. As Zeppster497 pointed out the player can come up with the solution himself, but even worse for the reviewer, it IS explained in the game, if you ask the right person at the right time.

 

The game is not for everyone, but this sloppy review leaves a deformed impression, which is both unprofessional and unfair.

Zeppster497
Zeppster497

@RealFabioSooner

Well, in case of that particular plot detail, what the review said is just not true, lol. It's obvious who left the note, when the note was left, and the game does introduce the characters to each other so they all know each other's names... there is no plot hole there.

 

The game just skips the often used exposition dump afterwards, there's a single logical conclusion you're able to draw without the game having to explain stuff to you in retrospect. That if any is a sign of strong writing, not of weak one.

 

The cardinal rule of screenwriting is "show, don't tell" after all.

 

Jinxtah
Jinxtah

Furthermore, I just signed up, and this was the first review I read here. I'm not so sure it's even worth staying here. This review is embarrassingly terrible, and this shows the scores can't be trusted on gamespot. 

Oh well.

hostX9
hostX9

 @Gelugon_baat True! Yet some things inside a review are more and others are less subjective ;)

patped
patped

 @Gelugon_baat Ok, I never said GS should take my word for granted. I'm saying from the begining that this game should be replayed by another reviewer.

patped
patped

 @Gelugon_baat Man, I thought you had understood that already. I'm not saying Eric is wrong by not liking the writing, this is opinion. I'm saying he's wrong because he says the story has holes but it doesn't as I prooved to you already, and this is not an opinion. 

patped
patped

 @Gelugon_baat Well, that is just your opinion and that's okay. But I think you can't judge the writing of a game you haven't played. It's like judging a book by a few sentences you read ramdonly.

patped
patped

 @Gelugon_baat Lol, I don't have a problem with people who disagree with me. If you play the game and think it's crap, fine by me, I don't care. What I don't get is why you have do diminish this game if you haven't even played, you are just defending a poor review. And I don't think it is bad because Eric disagrees with me but because it has mistakes. That's what I'm trying to show you but you don't want to understand it.

I_are_Cake
I_are_Cake

 @Gelugon_baat I was only joking about the "its wrong to dislike GK3" thing; I figured you would get it.

I_are_Cake
I_are_Cake

 @Gelugon_baat Nope, every adventure gaming forum I've been on; everyone praises the hell out of Gabriel Knight except for the FMV adventure haters (like myself pre-Tex Murphy & The Beast Within) who despised the use of FMV in The Beast Within (I too hated the decision until I played it).

I_are_Cake
I_are_Cake

 @Gelugon_baat But Gabriel Knight 3 is a masterpiece; the graphics were top notch at the time, the soundtrack puts Zelda & Shadow of the Colossus to shame, its well acted, & the story is exceptionally told. I just fail to see how anyone who likes adventure games could consider Gabriel Knight 3 to be an average game.

I_are_Cake
I_are_Cake

 @Gelugon_baat But still, giving Gabriel Knight anything an average score; that's just fucked up.

patped
patped

I'm not suggesting that. I only said the reviewer didn't get the story because he didn't pay atention to it or jumped the cutscenes. If he was uninterested because the game was boring, that's ok. But Eric said things about plot holes that doesn't exist. That's a big problem when writing a profesional review.

patped
patped

 @Gelugon_baat Yes, that's not a strict rule that every adventure game must follow, I know some don't focus on story but most of them do. If you have an adventure game on your hands you expect that is has a focus on story. It's not a mistake of the game that it has a story in which you have to pay attention to get it. If you don't want it, you shouldn't choose to play an adventure game, go play something else.

patped
patped

 @Gelugon_baat If you play an adventure game, you certainly know that it has a strong focus on story, so, yeah, of course you have to pay atention to the story :S

patped
patped

 @Gelugon_baat Well, the long term memories are not optional in the game. They are part of the plot and you can't simply choose to not get them, therefore, I'm sure Eric had them. About the item you mention (I think it is the subway map) you can't discard it, so, again, Eric sure had it.

patped
patped

 @Redthedemon I said that because there is a part of the review in which Eric says that things from the plot are not explained. I posted the video that proves the reviewer was wrong and you can tell that the only way of him missing that is "jumping the cutscene".

Redthedemon
Redthedemon

@patped @Gelugon_baat how do you know he "jumped the cutscenes"? you act like you watched the reviewer play this game all the way though which i doubt you did don't throw out actuzations that you don't have proof for.

I_are_Cake
I_are_Cake

Different reviewers; Chris Watters reviewed Brink & Kevin VanOrd reviewed Mass Effect 3.

I_are_Cake
I_are_Cake

 @Gelugon_baat He's a freelance reviewer, of course his identity is going to be kept secret aside from his name. I gave you proof of corruption, remember those Dragon Age II ads plastered all over GameSpot? Remember how it got an 8 despite being a horrible game? Same with Cyanide's Game of Thrones RPG despite every other reviewer admitting that its a shit game with abysmal combat, dated graphics, & awful voice acting? Why, because those sites didn't have advertising space for a bad game. Mass Effect 3 has a similar fate despite having quality voice talent (not counting Jessica Whorebot).

patped
patped

 @I_are_Cake sorry, my mistake, I just clicked the reply button and didn't unmark you, don't worry, I trust a guy with a system shock avatar ;) I mean it.

I_are_Cake
I_are_Cake

 @patped  You're replying to me why? No way in hell that I'd even consider white knighting this shit review.

patped
patped

 @Gelugon_baat  @I_are_Cake I didn't say that. I said the reviewer made mistakes and I showed to you the proof in the video and your argument is that the game should be held responsible by the mistakes comitted by Neigher. If you are not his little girl, I don't know what drives a person to say this.

patped
patped

 @Gelugon_baat  @I_are_Cake I'm not a fan of this, I said I would give it an 8. There's tons of better games in my opinion.And gelugon, are you related to neigher somehow? Are you his "girl"?

I_are_Cake
I_are_Cake

 @patped  Oh, my bad. I normally think of art when someone uses the term *surreal*.

patped
patped

 @Gelugon_baat no man, you are a misunderstood surrealist. Fuck Dali, you are the guy, making surrealist art in gamespot comments \O/

patped
patped

 @Gelugon_baat LOL, what fucking argument is this??? This shit you just said escapes any logical reason. Now the games should be held responsible by the mistakes the reviewers make about them lol.

patped
patped

 @Gelugon_baat why he did that is something that neither do I nor you can answer. That is his problem only, perhaps he was just playing it at 4am and wanted to sleep. Anyway, whatever the reason is, you can't blame a mistake made by a reviewer on the game.

patped
patped

 @Gelugon_baat "never mind" in this case would be like "jumping the cutscenes", that's what he did, you can't blame the plot of a game that you keep jumping the cutscenes. If you do this, of course you won't understand the plot and you will think there are plot holes duh. And what basis do you have to criticize the story? A review which the guy kept jumping cutscenes???

patped
patped

 @Gelugon_baat no, you don't, if you select the wrong memory or item nothing will happen. The only way of missing this is selecting "never mind" which the reviewer probably did. And you have what, 5 options to select lol. If one doesn't do anything all you have to do is select another one...

patped
patped

I'm only showing you because you dind't play the game, this is the only way that you can be convinced that it was easy to figure it out.

AtlasXII
AtlasXII

 @Gelugon_baat

 Have you played the game? When you get to talk personally to the person whom you know of knowing.

It's not rocket science.

Resonance

  • PC
Resonance players will take control of four characters whose lives become entangled in the search for the scientist's vault.
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Average Score See all 76 Player Reviews
7.7
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