Final Thoughts 06



Note: This is not a review, but merely my musings after having recently completed a game as part of my Rogue's Adventures playthrough of my backlog. Follow @RoguesAdventure to keep up with my playthroughs.

Also Note: This was originally written (and game was completed) in January 2013.


MASSIVE STORY SPOILERS! I urge you to play this wonderful game first before reading this spoiler filled recap.

Developer: Wadjet Eye Games

Release Date: June 19, 2012

Resonance hadn't been on my backlog long, having just purchased it during a sale on a few months ago, but nonetheless it's the game I was most looking forward to when I decided to play Adventure games to kick off Rogue's Adventures.

Resonance tells the story of four seemingly unrelated people that get drawn together into a sci-fi thriller storyline -  Ray Abott, famous internet blogger and truthseeker, Anna Castallanos, Doctor and niece of the discoverer of Resonance (Dr. Morales), Eddings (Ed), the nerdy mathematician and employee of Dr. Morales, and Detective Bennet, your typical surly cop with a few secrets of his own.

The game starts off brilliantly, teaching you the basics of the tried and true Point 'N Click User Interface in Ed's apartment. Each character has three inventory banks - INV for your usual inventory items, STM for short term memory, and LTM for Long Term Memory. LTM's are automatically given after important scenes, and allow both you the player to recall important pieces of information, and used in dialogue for the characters to bring up things they remember. STM are used for dragging items and people in the game world to the slot to then be used on other people as dialogue options. Essentially it allows dialogue to be much more involved - Instead of seeing a problem then asking someone about it, you have to click and drag the issue to your STM, then use that on a person. It's simple but brilliant design.

The UI is completely hidden until you mouse over the upper left corner, then you're given your three slots, as well as a panel is revealed showing all four characters was everyone meets up, allowing you to simply click on the portrait and instantly switch perspectives. Characters can trade most items between each other freely. After the initial scene in Ed's place, you're given a four panel quadrant to select from, each depicting a different time, and each takes you to one of the four characters doing whatever it is they're doing before the big explosion at Juno's lab. Some of these are more fun than others - Ed's for example is basically just talking to Anna on the subway, while Ray has a complex multi-step puzzle to breaking into a mainframe at the hospital. Once all four are completed, the game resumes with Ed, this time joined by Bennet at Juno labs trying to get inside and see if Dr. Morales is still alive. The puzzles to get in where fun and showed off the use of having two characters. With Morales being taken to the hospital, our twosome recruit Anna, and are quickly followed by Ray who worms his way into the group. At this point the game really opens up, giving you multiple goals, all four characters, and multiple locations. It's a bit overwhelming, and at one point I remember I spent a good hour accomplishing literally nothing. But it's weird to say I was never frustrated, as there's just so much to do and so many characters do it with. The hint system is cleverly built into the game by simply talking to your own characters and asking them if they have any ideas.

The middle section of the game began to drag until you finally get things moving again, and you're tasked with sadly the only logistical puzzle as you had to maneuver all four characters through a magnetic supercollider, while two of them couldn't be in the magnetic fields at all (Ed from a metal shoulder, and Bennet from refusing to give up his gun). You finally reach Dr. Morales' secret vault where he kept all his research notes on Resonance. Resonance is the term used to describe two molecules that occupy the same space by vibrating quickly around each other. He found a way to split the molecules, and when released they would immediately seek each other, at the exact center point and cause an explosion proportionate to the distance they were separated. Essentially it's a fancy way to explain a super sexy bomb with unique placement, and obviously you don't want something like that falling into the wrong hands! Throughout the rest of the game there's a thriller/conspiracy vibe as you're finding paranoid clues left by Dr. Morales, and at one point Anna is even chased in her own apartment.

Once in the vault I experienced one of the greatest video game twists I've ever experienced. I essentially thought this was the finale of the game, as Anna is given a final choice to Destroy the vault or Open it. I chose Destroy (though I read that it doesn't matter which you choose), and Ed immediately responds by shooting Anna in the head! Oh and Bennet was tied up because they found another note by Morales saying that he was on to him, and the group didn't trust him. Ray had to respond by pulling the fuse to the vault, locking Ed inside, and the two fled. It was a crazy moment, or bunch of moments, and one in which I just sat stunned as Ray and Bennet tried to piece together what had just happened. Another two hours of gameplay followed, which despite only having half the crew was quite enjoyable in trying to track down Ed's Resonance devices and stopping him from setting off another explosion (it was determined he had blown up the lab and killed Morales). Ray and Bennet, neither trusting the other had a fun little buddy cop thing going, and the plot really took hold as we met another faction called the Eleven Foundation that were interested in Resonance but fearful of Ed. They had helped us find the vault, and again helped us find the Resonance devices.

After a fun and tense Interrogation scene where Ray had to keep Ed on the phone long enough for Bennet to track him down, the trail finally led back to the hospital where Ed was planning to destroy the mainframe Ray had hacked into earlier - something called the Antevorta Project that was a database of all information on everyone, from financial records to DNA. The Eleven Foundation had set off resonance devices all over the world as a scare tactic to get the government to push their project into effect, allowing them to know everything and rule accordingly.

Such was the speech that Ed gave Ray and Bennet at gunpoint on the roof of the hospital. Ed had just planted the final Resonance device, while unbeknownst to him Ray had the other in his pocket. It took me a couple tries to realize I had to get Ed into the exact position between Ray and the first device.... Thankfully the game has an ultra-cool rewind feature: any time you reach a fail state the game automatically rewinds, complete with snowy effect and showing all your actions in reverse, and takes you back to where you can try again. While in some cases this caused it to take much longer than simply a game over screen and reload (like the finale), it was a really neat effect, and I was thankful for the autosave.

At final moments you can choose to believe in Ed and let him go (though the game warns you that would be betraying Bennet as he doesn't trust Ed no matter what), or let him vaporize himself. I let the *** fry, as I felt horribly betrayed by his actions, no matter what he felt forced to do.

Afterward you're treated to a scene of the President talking about the new law in effect, and the heads of the Eleven Foundation are right there beside him. Ray and Bennet meet up one last time to decide if Ray's damning article on everything that had happened should be published. Instead of leaving you with a Watchmen-like ending, you get to make a final choice to publish the article or delete. I chose Publish, as I didn't trust those shady bastards either, and the credit sequence includes newspaper headline montage of increasing distrust and accusations at The Eleven Foundation. A Victory perhaps, but oh so bittersweet.

Having multiple characters in an adventure game is nothing new; I've experienced similar gameplay aspects in all three Broken Sword games, Ceville, and King's Quest 7, but I've never had a game juggle four characters, each with distinctive personalities and abilities so expertly. Anna had special hospital access with her ID badge, Ed easily figured out everything at the lab, Ray was the only character with a smart phone that was used for note taking and calls and a password cracker USB, and Detective Bennet had access to Police archives.

The game was dripping with a serious and somber tone, and I could've used a few more moments of levity. There's a couple "levels" where you play as child Anna trying to escape from a monster/her father, and it's absolutely terrifying. Likewise Anna's sudden and gruesome murder, Ray knocking out Bennet with a pipe when the group decides they can't trust him, and Dr. Morales saying his last words to Anna (not to mention the strong language throughout, mostly by Bennet) give the game a very serious tone that I haven't become all that accustomed to with a pixilated art style.

The story, (especially the intriguing beginning and exciting finale) were top notch, the voice acting was excellent (the gravelly narrator from Bastion voiced Bennet), and the gameplay and puzzles were solid and varied. Inventory puzzles, visual puzzles, word puzzles, ciphers, maneuvering characters, the game  had it all wrapped up in a package that made it look like the best game to come out of the Golden Age of Adventure games (early 90s) rather than a throwback made in 2012. I haven't even touched on the fact that game uses an old-school Point System to reward you for accomplishing various tasks as well as new-school in game achievements for solving puzzles in different ways. Resonance has made me want to check out the rest of Wadjet Eye's catalog, and is a serious contender to make my Top 10 Adventure Game list. If you enjoy the genre, especially the 2D story focused adventure games that dominated PC gaming for years, you owe it to yourself to check out Resonance - one of the best I've ever played.