A Modern Blast From The Past: Resonance Review
This game was reviewed on PC
In the late 90s, I fondly remember playing many games that had the word “Quest” in the title: King’s Quest, Space Quest, and Quest for Glory. By most other standards, this is not so long ago. By videogame standards, recalling the golden age of adventure games makes me feel like sitting in a rocking chair and putting in dentures. Resonance by xii games captures those years I spent in front of a dull grey computer, both for better and for worse. It feels like an old adventure game from ages past, but that might not be what modern gamers are looking for.
The plot’s driving force in Resonance is a physics experiment gone wrong. A new technology has been developed that, in true mad scientist fashion, could either help build a utopian world or destroy the one we live in. The four playable characters are all connected to the problems of this technology in some way. The issues (and our character’s story) begin with rolling blackouts through Aventine City. Spoiling the narrative would be easy, but let’s just say that there will be murder, secrets and twists aplenty.
Just like its videogame grandfathers, you collect items, solve puzzles, and watch a story unfold, but Resonance makes two deviations from the adventure games of the past. The first is “remembering” any part of the environment and this increases the number of items that can be in your inventory by a huge factor. By clicking and dragging, the player can commit items, characters or scene pieces to a character’s short term memory. This is usually done to reference the short term memory to an NPC (for example, you might add a mainframe console to your recollection in order to question a secretary about it). Surprisingly, this mechanic doesn’t feel complicated and never makes you overwhelmed. When used for puzzles, it always makes sense.
The second difference is the characters you control. They can all be used at any time, and each one can be selected through their portrait at the top of the screen. The four characters each have unique personalities, and interact with Aventine City in a different way. Anna is a hard working nurse with a mysterious childhood. Ed is a geeky mathematician who works for a science lab that recently exploded. Bennet is a detective that doesn’t play by the rules. Ray is an independent reporter (blogger) that will do anything to get a story. Because of their distinct backgrounds, they each have different skills that can be used in situations. For example, Bennet can get into the police administration building, whereas Ray would need to be escorted in and stay in an interrogation room at all times. Yet Ray, who has no problems violating security or privacy, can gain access to different computer terminals around the game-world using a handy hacking USB key.
The characters feel very cliché but they carry the story well and make sense in the world Resonance builds. However, the voice acting for each is adequate, and only that. The lines sound read, not acted, and many times during dramatic moments, the dull voices of characters prevented me from fully immersing in the story.
I also mentioned that this game feels like a real, old-school adventure game, and this incorporates frustrations as well. There will be many times when you need to move items between characters. This can only be done slowly through dialogue, and every time you have to hear “I have something for you,” “Oh yeah?,” and “Yeah, here you go”. Resonance would have benefited if inventory management was faster, as this process becomes tedious very quickly.
Tedium doesn’t situate itself only to trading items back and forth; simply moving becomes a long chore as well. You characters can only walk in game areas, and there is no option to increase that speed (a feature adventure games from the past included). There are points when this can border on the ridiculous when walking from one end of a screen to another can take as long as a minute. When this is compounded with the amount of backtracking that happens while working out the game’s many puzzles, you’ll realize that too much of Resonance is spent slowly walking towards your destination.
If you can get past the issues of repetition and slow gameplay, Resonance has a lot to offer. Despite the lackluster voice acting, the story itself is engaging and offers surprising twists and turns. The puzzles are reasonable, and give you a sense of accomplishment when solved, without ever feeling that they are impossible to complete. Personally, I enjoyed this game immensely. The nostalgic sense of times I sat in front of a grey machine, completing another ‘Quest’, was worth it.
Resonance is available at gog.com for $9.99.
Score: 4.0 / 5.0
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