Resonance – Review

Resonance

developed by XII Games and Wadjet Eye Games

This is the first game I’ve played by Xii Games but also the seventh title I’ve played with the Wadjet Eye Games logo on it.  What does that mean to this review exactly?  Well, on the one hand, it means a first commercial effort that far surpasses many mainstream commercial efforts, and then on the other hand it means that we have a new adventure game that is bigger, better, and more ambitious than any previously released adventure.  It’s obvious that the developers were devoted to delivering an awe-inspiring experience that would engross and entertain gamers in the way that a great game should.

Resonance is not simply a great adventure game that pays tribute to other well known and well received classics of the genre, it’s a game made up of everything that defines what is great about the genre and, all of the reasons why people still love adventure games.  It’s an extremely polished, well thought out, thoroughly entertaining, and delightfully intriguing gem.  The quality and amount of effort poured into creating Resonance is apparent from the start.

Story:
It starts with a lab experiment that has seemingly gone wrong.  The death of a brilliant particle physicist.  Four unique characters, brought together by a unique set of circumstances, who will become entangled in a mystery to find the dead scientists secret vault and unravel a conspiracy that could endanger the fate of the world.  Each of these characters, a lab assistant, a nurse, a police detective, and an investigative reporter, will need to work together to uncover some dark secrets and save the world from an unknown adversary.

The story is definitely one of the strongest elements of Resonance.  Everything about the game is well done, but the story is on par with that of a well made blockbuster movie.  There’s a prologue of sorts at the beginning which introduces each of the main characters and the games controls.  After the prologue however, the gameplay builds up and plays out like a murder mystery thriller that will keep you engrossed throughout.  The story does maintain a serious tone throughout the adventure, but it does have the heart and enough courage to keep a sense of humor as well.

Gameplay:
The controls follow that of your typical point-and-click adventure game.  If you’ve played Monkey Island, The Dig, Gabriel Knight, King’s Quest, Broken Sword, or any point-and-click adventure game released within the past two decades, then you’ll be immediately familiar with the interface.  It’s an easy to use setup and is accessible to both beginner and veteran gamers.  Solving problems and figuring out puzzles make Resonance feel like it was made for gamers who already enjoy the adventure genre, but the storytelling and some intense and thrilling moments will attract any person who enjoys a good tale and perhaps the occasional scare.

Where Resonance is a little different than some of the other adventure games is in it’s inventory, puzzles, and problem solving.  While there is a standard inventory system, Resonance utilizes a unique system of gathering short-term and long-term memories that the characters can discover and collect throughout their exploration, which they can use to interact with environments or while they’re conversing with others.

When controlling any of the four playable characters, players can easily manipulate the mouse cursor and preview multiple ‘hot-spots’ which they can gather from their immediate environment and then store as a short-term memory which can be used in conversation or sometimes while interacting with other objects.  Long term memories are usually gathered through deeper exploration, interaction, and discussion with other characters or through solving problems and puzzles throughout the game.

The point-and-click interface merged with a system of collectible queues from the environmental hot-spots, make the adventure an investigative effort that fits well with the story and the way it all unfolds.  It’s certainly a unique setup and it makes exploration and conversation feel like an intuitive experience.

On top of all the great gameplay and great storytelling, Resonance is a meaty adventure that can easily take 12 hours for a competent adventurer to complete.

Graphics:
Resonance does carry the low-res graphics we’ve become accustomed to with indie adventure games, but boy are the graphics good.  The detail in the environments and the animation of the characters is all top notch.  It’s not just the overall detail that is impressive, it’s the little details that stand out as well.

Each of the colorful environments and backgrounds effectively delivers the appropriate atmosphere to compliment the story.  However, when the camera changes to a first person perspective, which usually happens because a puzzle or problem needs to be solved, the high level of detail, and careful thought put into these graphics, become immediately apparent.

The graphics overall are so well done in fact, that they persuasively exhibit all of the intense and scary moments with the same effect of a big budget, high resolution game, or even movie.

Music & Sound:
The audio in Wadjet Eye Games adventures has always been something to look forward to.  The same thing goes for Resonance.  The music is a little more subtle this time around, though it is still impressive.  When present, the soundtrack sets the mood just right and helps add to the sense of exploration and discovery, or enhance the level of anxiety when those intense or scary moments do arise.

The voice acting in Resonance is stellar.  The actors make each voice sound convincing while being delivered effortlessly.  Each of the main characters has a distinguishing set of characteristics which is partially conveyed through their voice.  It’s a real feat when indie games play and sound this good and Resonance is one of those games that sets a high standard for other games, not just the ones that are made by indies.  It’s obvious that Wadjet Eye Games employs talented voice actors for their games and Resonance has some of the best.  Some of you might even recognize the voice of The Narrator from Bastion, Logan Cunningham.  Can you guess which character he plays?

Conclusion:
My list for favorite adventure games of all time has been growing again, ever since I started getting into indie games, and Resonance is one of those that is at the top of my list.  It’s a combination of equally great elements that makes Resonance such an entertaining, intense, and absorbing adventure game experience.  Xii Games and Wadjet Eye Games can be proud of their accomplishment in developing an adventure game that is sure to become an instant cult classic, but also a gem of the genre.  I’ve played a lot of adventure games over the years but Resonance surprised me with some of the refreshing ways it presented it’s story and puzzles.  It’s a lengthy adventure and one that is deserving of every dollar of it’s affordable price-tag.

As with all games under the watchful gaze of the Wadjet Eye, Resonance offers reasonable replay value as well.  Resonance features achievements which can be unlocked through multiple playthrus, and there is even a blooper reel to be unlocked.  This adds to the fun and is great for some chuckles, but I highly recommend you play through and enjoy the entire game first.

You should stop reading this and just go buy Resonance right now!  The experience is well worth the money and who knows how long it’ll be before another point-and-click adventure of this caliber comes along.  (Hopefully soon!)  You can pick up Resonance for the low price of $9.99 through the Wadjet Eye Games website, or you can buy it directly from GOG.com.

 

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