Resonance of Fate Hands-On

We venture into the steampunk world of Tri-Ace's stylish new role-playing game.

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Developer Tri-Ace has another role-playing game in the works, but this time, it's teaming up with Sega to publish Resonance of Fate in North America. Called End of Eternity in Japan, the game focuses on three characters in a world where humans have become completely dependent on machines. It's a futuristic world but also a run-down one because even machines don't seem to last forever. We met with Sega at the 2009 Tokyo Game Show to get an idea of how the gameplay works, which can get a little complicated, but at least it looks good.

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The story is set in a world where Earth has failed to sustain humans, so people have built a machine to live on instead. By the time we come in, the machine is failing as well, but Earth is completely uninhabitable. Bizarre creatures have started to appear, and some machines have taken on a life of their own. It was explained to us that because these machines have been around so long, they are ingrained in people's lives so much that they can determine their fate.

Our demo began in this industrial area where we were up against odd-looking creatures with barrels over their heads and a spiderlike machine with rusted metal scraps for shields. The battles are in semi-real time and in closed arenas. You have the freedom to move one of your three characters: Reanbell, Vashyron, and Zephyr. There's a time gauge at the bottom of the screen that determines what you can do during your turn, whether you want to spend the time running and attacking or hanging back and letting your gun fire as many bullets as it can before time runs out. You can attack from any position and move your targeting reticle to any enemy, but if you hit the X button, you can do an invincible attack, which allows you to run along a set line and fire your weapon as many times as your gauge will allow. The line that appears can be crossed with another member of your team, in which case you can do a resonance attack, which is a combo that involves all of the characters for more damage. This is relatively rare, and we weren't able to see it in action, but even from the basic attacks, as well as the invincible attacks, the animation is incredibly cinematic and stylish. It gives off a John Woo type of vibe with the slow-motion flips and dual guns.

Resonance of Fate may not look like a traditional Japanese RPG, but it has the elements of one. The characters are like mercenaries and united for a purpose that we don't know about yet. Together, they take on odd jobs or missions to unravel the secrets of the world and get caught up in all the political intrigue. As you get further into the game, you'll be able to upgrade your weapons by adding parts to them to increase their performance, such as adding a scope or having a faster load time. The guns are modeled after real-life guns, and you'll be able to pick up special ammo that can add such effects as fire, ice, and lightning. There may not be any magic and swords, but the customization is there with the weapons that you'll eventually acquire.

There's a distinct steampunk vibe to the game, and even though it's set in the future, the world seems like it's falling apart. The visuals are kind of gritty and less vibrant than what we've seen in Star Ocean. The character designs are more realistic and all look great, especially when they're performing their aerial acrobatics during combat. What's amusing is that there is a status effect, which causes your characters to cower in fear. They scamper around the arena, shield their faces, and look like they're about to wet their pants. This will apparently wear off, but it's still funny to see.

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We were impressed with what we saw of the game, and we're sure that there's a lot more to see. The gameplay is fast and fantastic to look at, but we're curious to learn more about the story and would like to go in depth with the upgradable weapons. Resonance of Fate is scheduled to be released sometime in the spring of 2010.

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