Written by Mark Del Rio, aka PieMonster Thursday, 21 June 2012 06:00
Resonance is a new point and click adventure game from Wadjet Eye Games, the maker of Gemini Rue and The Blackwell series. Their latest adventure takes you on another deep and tangled mystery full of intrigue, plot-twists, and pixel hunting. How good is it? Let’s take a look.
From the game's main page:
“When a brilliant particle physicist dies unexpectedly, the race is on to secure his terrible new technology before it falls into the wrong hands. The lives of four playable characters become entangled as they fight against the clock to find the dead scientist’s secret vault.
The suspicions they harbor, the memories they guard, the connections they share - all will converge as these four ordinary people work together to prevent a potentially cataclysmic disaster.”
I’m not one to spoil adventure games; I feel as if they are best experienced rather than explained. And with that, I’ll skip any further story details.
How does it play?
At first glance, Resonance is your typical point-and-click adventure game. If the old school art style hasn’t tipped you off, the gameplay will. Just as in typical point-and-click adventure games, you will spend time talking to other characters, examining and using items, and solving mini-puzzles. It’s a tried and true formula that has defined the genre for the past 20 years or so. Resonance does a few new things; some good some not-so-good.
The coolest feature of Resonance is what I will describe as a “parkour dialogue.” You can select any object on screen (like trash cans, electrical panels, etc…) and drop it into a “Short-Term Memory” (STM) slot in your inventory. Once there, you can use this STM on any character and begin a conversation about it.
For example, in one early segment, my goal was to gain access to a mainframe computer under the watchful eye of a disgruntled secretary. I had to lure her away. With nothing of use in my inventory, I start chit-chatting about random stuff within the room – a painting on the wall, a plant, and a trash can. Most of her responses to these object are deadpan hilarious but don’t get me anywhere. It’s not until I discuss the correct object that she leaves the room and I can continue about my business.
In essence, this is nothing more than the typical dialogue tree common to most adventure games. What’s great about handling it this way is that it almost completely removes the dialogue tree interface. This gives you a sense of freedom and control over the conversations instead of choosing from a list of options. It’s great! There are a few issues however.
The first issue I encountered using “parkour dialogue” is getting used to it. In the segment mentioned above I ended up stumped more than once. There are numerous objects on screen to use as dialogue trees. Most of them actually end up leading nowhere. If you can’t figure out what to discuss you end up clicking on everything just to try to figure out what to do next.
The second issue that I encountered with “parkour dialogue” is that sometimes the object you need to discuss may not be in the same room. You will have to recall certain STM items to other characters to advance the story. After the prelude, the game opens up and allows you to switch among 4 different characters and travel to different locations at will. This can easily get confusing especially when certain requirements need to be met before you can advance.
To its credit, Resonance does provide you with plenty of direction and help if you so need it. The interface is seamlessly integrated into the gameplay screen so you never have to switch away to examine your “memories” or inventory. A scrolling ticker at the top of the screen gives you advice as to what you can do with certain objects. You can also ask for advice from any of the other playable characters if you don’t know what to do next. There is also a “Long Term Memory” (LTM) slot that automatically stores important events, which can be recalled at any time for hints.
Nothing was overly too difficult to solve in the game and for some of the more challenging puzzles, the developers provided alternative challenges. In one early puzzle I had to rewire an electrical panel to open a sealed door. After numerous attempts (and failure) I gave up and walked to a different doorway that was blocked by debris. I had to use 2 characters in a timed succession to clear the debris. It was an easier and alternate solution. Sometimes, taking the easy route isn’t the best route especially if you’re an achievement hunter; a counter on the top right of the screen keeps track of your score.
The prelude of the game gradually introduces you to all 4 of the main characters after which you are able to control them simultaneously and in different locations. It’s all fairly simple to switch between them and provides you with numerous ways to approach situations. The only drawback to this is that it sometimes gets confusing. In one location I had to get help from a computer hacker. I discovered that he wouldn’t talk to me if a certain character (a police detective) was in the same room. In a different location (a hospital), only my character who was a doctor had access to restricted floors.
Sometimes only a certain character can use a particular item or perform a certain function. You’ll have to use the right character for the right situation. Sometimes that means trial-and-error and numerous backtracking. Depending upon your puzzle solving ability and patience level, this may or may not be an issue for you.
How does it look and sound?
In case you haven’t figured it out by the screenshots posted in this review, Resonance is a throwback to adventure games of the 90’s. It’s all beautifully pixelated and very 2D; your fancy Geforce 680 won’t come anywhere near breaking a sweat. The only issue where this may come into play is when you’re pixel hunting. A pile of disheveled papers sitting on a desk looks more like pigeon droppings. Honestly, it’s not that bad.
As far as sound goes, the voice acting is good though not great. I find this to be common among adventure games. Your voice actor is screaming his lungs out yet his avatar is standing motionless. Perhaps it’s just me but it’s always bothered me. Maybe Wadjet Eye Games can innovate that in their next game.
Music and sound effects, though minimal, are good as well. Each piece appropriately fits the mood of what’s happening on screen and even changes with events. Nothing sounds out of place, you are immersed in the environment without feeling over flooded, thus allowing your mind some quite-time to work through the puzzles.
If I were to judge this game solely upon its screenshots then I would say that Resonance is nothing more than a gimmick. The fact that developer Wadjet Eye Games has a deep history in this genre proves otherwise. With a beautifully written story, interesting characters, and challenging (but not too difficult) puzzles, Resonance is a great little game despite some flaws. I highly recommend it if you’re looking for something different, challenging and original to play.