Review: Resonance from @VinceTwelve and @WadjetEyeGames – Old school adventuring
Some people keep trying to take old genres and seeing how they can move them forward. How they can make an old genre more palatable or marry it with a different genre. How it can take one game and mash it up with another. Resonance from Vince Twelve and Wadjeteye Games is not that game. Instead, Resonance is a love letter to the 90’s, the heyday of the point and click adventure. A time when Sam and Max and Full Throttle and Day of the Tentacle ruled the landscape (I was a LucasArts guy, as you can see).
Resonance plays much like you would expect it would. You go through the game with four characters, each starting with their own story and eventually interconnecting with all of the others, pick up objects, look at things, and try to use the things you found to solve the puzzles that are in your way from finding out the rest of the story. And it is quite a story. Resonance starts by showing you a world under attack and massively damaged and then sends you back to the beginning of the story to find out how the world got there and what resonance is. The game is beautiful, with expressive character models and backgrounds that are really the star of the show in many ways. The backgrounds are gorgeous and give the game a great feel.
So the game is pretty. Still, that wouldn’t get it very far if the gameplay wasn’t interesting. Like most point-and-click adventures, there are lots of puzzles to figure out. The puzzles, for the most part, make sense within the larger world and are solvable with some common sense and a careful attention to detail regarding the world around you. There are several puzzles that involve combining objects in your inventory or using an object in your inventory to interact with something in the game world as well as a few of the more ‘puzzle’ variety, like moving pegs through a maze or figuring out the correct order to move your characters to get them all to the other side. I had to turn for help a couple of times, but once I realized what I was missing it never seemed unfair or arbitrary. The solution made sense, I had just failed to think quite laterally enough. There is also a ton of dialogue in Resonance and the entire voice cast does a great job bringing the game to life.
There are tons of dialogue choices and a really neat system whereby you can store things in your short term memory to ask other characters about them. It took me a little bit to get used to the idea that I would occasionally have to put something in my memory and then go ask someone about it to move forward, but it became second nature by the time I had finished the game. You also have a long-term memory, which is a nice way of letting you re-watch scenes from earlier in the game, as well as giving you an additional set of things to talk to people about. There are a few parts of the game where you can lose, but the game rewinds to the beginning of that scene immediately instead of making you reload, which is nice. I wish it rewound to right before your mistake, but it was rarely an issue.
The story in Resonance is not the sort of light-hearted story that many people tend to associate with adventure games (Recognizing, of course, that there is a long-line of dramatic games as well). There are certainly moments of levity, but the story is mostly a mature one with characters with interesting, and sometimes questionable, motives. There are multiple endings to play for and the game also keeps score as you play, letting you know how many of the things in the game you have found. It really is a mature, compelling story filled with a few twists and turns (and at least one major ‘oh wow’ moment that will stick with me for a while) that will make you want to keep playing in order to see what happens next.
So what is Resonance? Well, basically, it is an adventure game made even better than they used to make them. The devs estimate the length at over 10 hours and that is probably a pretty fair estimate based on my own playthrough (which would have been longer if I hadn’t gotten help when I got hung up instead of pushing my way through). It’s a truly great adventure game. It’s got a great story with great voice acting in an interesting world with challenging but unfair puzzles. I’m not sure what else you want from a game of this sort. If you love this genre, you can’t go wrong picking up picking it up for $9.99. If you are not sure, you can get the lengthy demo to try it out for yourself.