Point-and-click adventures aren’t the industry’s blockbusters, and they aren’t titles that establish developers as major players. If a team is creating an adventure game in this day and age, you know that a desire for wealth and fame isn’t the driving force: It’s passion. That love for the genre shows through in Resonance. Its excellent writing and believable characters follow in the footsteps of the adventure game greats, while twists on the familiar formula keep the surprises coming.
As a narrative-driven experience, Resonance’s best moments come from its cast. The story follows four characters who meet in the wake of a mysterious explosion, then work together to find out the cause and prevent further incidents. Saying more than that would reveal too much, and unraveling the plot is part of the fun. The four main characters are variations on standard archetypes (nerdy scientist, gruff cop, etc.), but they are well-written and don’t always act as you expect, resulting in some cool and memorable developments.
If you’ve played any of the ‘90s adventure games from LucasArts or Sierra, the basic controls are easy to grasp. You click on things, and characters grab them, talk to them, or say something about them. Where Resonance sets itself apart from its predecessors is the implementation of the memory system, which essentially gives players a mental inventory in addition to standard physical objects. The concept works great; your memory allows you to talk to characters about events or objects instead of just showing them things you’re carrying. Since any object in the world can be dragged to memory, this adds a new degree of freedom and invites a different kind of experimentation than the usual “use this item on this item” crutch.
For all its innovation, Resonance falls into some old traps. It generally avoids item-combination puzzles, but that makes them more unexpected and aggravating when they do happen – especially since your required components could be split among multiple characters’ inventories. Resonance is also short, clocking in around seven hours for me. That isn’t a problem from a value perspective (it costs $10), but it limits how much the characters can use their unique skills. The four leads still have opportunities to shine, but more time in the spotlight would have made even more compelling heroes.
Resonance feels like a lost classic from the golden age of adventure gaming. It has some of the same shortcomings, but it also captures the thrill of exploration, the satisfaction of figuring out interesting puzzles, and the payoff of a well-told story. These elements demonstrate a reverence for the genre that can’t be manufactured, and anyone who shares the same passion shouldn’t miss Resonance.