By Marty Mulrooney
Resonance is an indie point-and-click PC adventure game created by XII Games in collaboration with Wadjet Eye Games. Alternative Magazine Online had the pleasure of previewing the game earlier this year, concluding that: “if the preview build is anything to go by, Resonance is shaping up to be a very special adventure game indeed.” Resonance was released today (19th June 2012) in its entirety via digital download and can also be purchased as a Collector’s Boxed Edition until the 24th June 2012.
Resonance builds its plot around the mysterious death of a particle physicist who was working on a technology of previously unimaginable power. Locking his work away in a hidden vault before he died, it is up to an unlikely team of characters to discover his secrets and make the difficult decision about whether to use the resonance technology he created for good, or destroy it forever before it falls into the wrong hands.
Players will take control of four playable characters throughout Resonance, initially separately but eventually simultaneously and in collaboration with each other. The first is Ed (Edward Bauer), a geeky mathematician who was the particle physicist’s assistant. The second is Anna (Sarah Elmaleh), a beautiful doctor who was related to the particle physicist. The third is Detective Bennet (Logan Cunningham), an overweight cop looking into the suspicious accident that resulted in the particle physicist’s death. The fourth and final character is Ray (Daryl Lathon), an investigative journalist who has been secretly following the other characters.
As mentioned in AMO’s preview earlier this year, Resonance features an inventory system so innovative and effortlessly cool that it’s bound to be emulated by other adventure games in the near future. Most adventure games feature a single inventory, whereas Resonance actually has three. The first is a traditional inventory, whilst the other two are separate short-term and long-term memory inventories.
Long-term memories are saved at specific points during the game and can be viewed at any time – clicking on one plays it back like a short movie. These memories can also be used when speaking to other characters. Short-term memories are even more useful – dragging a hotspot into your short-term memory inventory stores it like a regular inventory item. You can then use this short-term memory as a topic when speaking to other characters, or use it on other hotspots.
The result is a classic adventure game that stays true to its roots whilst feeling sufficiently updated for a modern audience. In truth, the short-term and long-term memory inventories don’t come into play as much as they could have done, but when a puzzle involves them its almost guaranteed to be a good one. The core point-and-click gameplay is rock solid, but Resonance does implement several mini-games with varying degrees of success. Some, such as the use of an ultra-sonograph to break into an ornate safe, work well despite fiddly controls. Others, such as a nightmare sequence involving a young Anna crawling through vents as a child, can wear thin pretty fast.
Thankfully, the game’s saving grace is that it actually offers a lot of freedom, especially during Act 2. Puzzles can often be approached with multiple solutions and in whatever order the player desires. The difficultly can be quite tough at times, but making the playable characters talk to each other often gives the player a valuable nudge in the right direction about what to do next. Death is entirely possible in Resonance, but that shouldn’t put players off from experimenting. The game automatically rewinds if you die, a visual effect that ties in brilliantly with the overall science fiction aesthetic.
Yet the main reason adventure gamers should check out Resonance – cool gameplay mechanics aside – is for its story. Suspicions are raised about certain characters at key points and it certainly offers an interesting dynamic playing as characters you might not actually be able to trust. Each of the main characters is well written and developed and their stories are entwined in believable, interesting ways. There are many twists and turns and it is to the credit of game designer Vince Twelve that the narrative is so gripping and believable no matter where it decides to tread.
The only real issue with the story – being purposely vague to avoid spoilers – is that some emotional moments pass by far too quickly to register properly and the least likeable characters become the focus later on. These downsides are all necessitated by the game’s most shocking twists, making them forgivable in the grand scheme of things. Still, it’s a shame that the game didn’t wrangle more emotion from certain moments and scenes – not that you’ll care when you finally reach the ending and make a tough decision that will ultimately define you as both a person and a player.
Resonance is an ambitious indie adventure game that for the most part succeeds in reaching its lofty goals. The production values, including the graphics, music and voice acting, are incredible – Wadjet Eye Games are currently riding high on a wave of hugely successful titles. They’re fast becoming synonymous with quality old-school adventuring and quite frankly there isn’t a dud in their entire back catalogue. Vince Twelve and XII Games should be immensely proud of Resonance. It’s the best science fiction adventure game since Gemini Rue and will stick with you long after the final credits – featuring a beautifully haunting track with music by Nikolas Sideris and vocals by Louisa Sofianopoulou – roll.
8.5 OUT OF 10
Resonance can be bought and downloaded directly via Wadjet Eye Games, DRM free and including a free Steam key, here. It can also be bought from our friends at GOG.com, with free digital goodies including a wallpaper, poster, soundtrack, 2 developer’s diaries and 4 avatars, here.