Being a part of the Nintendo generation, point-and-click adventure games are just one of those genres that I never really got to touch until recently. With a quirky mix of modern innovation, old school graphics and a presentation that would feel at home running on DOS, Resonance offered a decent challenge for someone just getting into the genre. With all that being said, the pixelated presentation sometimes caused the fun to be lost.
Even with the learning curve, the game had an interesting enough plot to follow revolving around a mystery with a touch of sci-fi flavor thrown in – it starts out with a series of explosions being frantically reported from around the globe, leaving the populace in a state of panic. The game then flashes back three months before this cataclysmic incident and introduces the team of four protagonists that you’ll use throughout the game – a detective, a reporter, a doctor and a mathematician. They’re drawn together by a city-wide blackout and a suspicious lab accident that leaves a man dismembered, the ragtag group must work together to unravel the mystery with plenty of science and intrigue along the way.
Juggling each of the four characters for the game’s various scenarios is fun, and adds a cool spin to the flow of the adventure. It’s interesting to watch how the characters interact as they push towards the truth of the story – quirky, off the cuff dialogue helps with that, especially with the level of quality in the voice work which really brings the characters to life.
The one problem with having this many protagonists that are spread out throughout the city solving different puzzles is they all have separate inventories, leading to points in the story where you can get turned around rather easily. The game really sticks to its retro roots in that it never holds your hand, which for purists is awesome, but makes the game all that much more frustrating when you realize the key item you needed is on another character who is all the way across town, and you now need to backtrack all the way back to their location. However, when you are on the right track, the party management system adds a nice layer of depth – just be ready to have a FAQ on hand to make sure you don’t go off track, as a simple oversight can completely stall your progress.
Resonance also features an interesting memory system, in which important conversation points or events are stored in each character’s inventory and can be used in conversations with other characters or to give hints about the puzzle you’re currently attempting to solve. There are two forms of memories: Long term and short term. Long term memories provide useful hints pulled from snippets of past events each character encounters and you can use them in conversation. The Short Term memory bank lets you grab memories of pretty much any interactive element you run across by dragging them from the environment like an item. You can then pull these memories into conversation slots or onto people to trigger certain dialogue sequences. The system is fun to use, and definitely a nice touch – a change of pace from other adventure games that would just use branching dialog options.
Puzzle difficulty in Resonance is varied – it can range from the straight-forward and intuitive to the needlessly complicated. More than once, I had to refer to a FAQ to figure out what to do next. Whether this was from my own inexperience in the genre or the game’s design, I’m not sure. Just know that approaching the challenges in each scene requires taking the skills and personalities of the four main characters into consideration. You sometimes have to spend a bit of extra time fiddling with things before you get the solution right, the solution feels doubly rewarding as a result.
The only other complaint I had about Resonance was that sometimes the game’s low res graphics made it difficult to see vital objects in the environment, especially if it was the same color as the background. However, this is a personal gripe and may not have the same effect on all players.
Resonance harkens back to a time when games did not always hold your hand and show you the solution. A slick presentation and challenging puzzles define the game and despite the game’s overly complex systems at times, we still cannot recommend passing this one up.