Wadjet Eye Games and xii Games have created something truly special with Resonance. I usually play adventure games for the story, obviously, and hopefully that story is enjoyable, well paced, and comes to a satisfying conclusion. Resonance exceeds all my expectations. Vince Twelve spins an epic tale full of twists, turns, and moments that will be etched into my memory for quite some time. This is truly fitting, as memory plays such an important role in the story.
Resonance features a mechanic where any interactive object in the game world can be placed into short term memory. This allows characters to use these objects as dialog choices to get more information out of someone, or to complete a puzzle. For instance, dragging a a wall clock into the short term memory allows me to remind another character what time it is. Long term memory stores certain conversations and events in a similar way. A character might “recall” a childhood event in order to solve a current dilemma. Functionally these memories work just like normal inventory-based puzzles, but they feel different enough in practice to be enjoyable. Also, although there are a large number of objects that could be placed in memory, you don’t feel overwhelmed and the mechanic is not overused.
Like previous Wadjet Eye titles, Resonance uses low resolution pixel art to bring characters to life. As I’ve stated in previous reviews, I feel this adds to the drama, especially in a title with a dark tone like this one. The backgrounds are colorful and varied, and the characters are animated well which enhances their personalities. The special effects are powerful, but don’t feel heavy handed. There are moments of extreme violence in Resonance which are handled splendidly- The moments are shocking because of the EVENT, not because of extreme gore, even though gore is involved.
Where Resonance truly shines is the audio. Nikolas Sideris’ soundtrack adds perfect mood setting music for every scene. As always, Wadjet Eye excels when it comes to casting and directing voice acting. While Logan Cunningham (Bastion’s Rucks) is probably the best known of the cast and turns in a terrific performance as the gruff Detective Bennet, it’s Edward Bauer who truly steals the show with his portrayal of Ed. Sarah Elmaleh and Daryl Lathon round out the “big four” of the main cast, and are also both excellent. All of the actors bring great range to their roles, making their characters seem much more vulnerable and human. The fantastic script handles both drama and lighter comedic moments equally adeptly (Wadjet Eye favorite Abe Goldfarb’s Saul the Janitor has a great funny speech during an otherwise tense scene). I really enjoyed the concept of characters having SILENT internal monologues when thinking about items. In a game where characters are thrown together and aren’t sure if they can trust one another, it seems right that they would keep thoughts to themselves unless they really want the others to know.
Resonance is definitely not for the beginning adventure game player. This can be a very difficult game in places. Fortunately, two of the game’s most difficult puzzles are completely optional (Vince, if you’re reading this- Please- no more spinning mazes… thank you), or could be solved multiple ways. Unfortunately, it still leaves several more fiendishly tough ones for you to work through. While there is an internal logic to all of the puzzles (no solutions seem to come completely out of left field), a few of them seemed to me to rely too heavily on some convenient plot contrivances, which I can’t discuss without spoiling things. Some of the timed puzzles seem to be a bit too eager to kill the unprepared as well. I loved the atmosphere- my pulse was racing during a particular escape scene early in the game, but having to rewind several times because I didn’t quite figure things out quickly enough was irksome. There seemed to be a lot of back-tracking, but that’s really par for the course when it comes to adventure games. At least when you return to an area in Resonance, you see new content or solve a new puzzle. Finally, I had a minor issue with having to click specifically to go up or down stairs in order to manipulate an object I can clearly see on screen. I’m thinking specifically of a control panel at police headquarters I can clearly see on the screen at all times, yet can only click on when I’m on the correct floor. I wish I could just click on it from anywhere on screen and have my character simply walk to it.
Frustrations with some of the puzzles aside, I found myself quite liking the interface. Switching characters was a snap, and I really liked how the “follow me” mechanism worked when I needed multiple characters in the same location in order to swap inventory, etc. I never felt I was fighting the interface when I couldn’t solve a puzzle. The inventory and memory slots took a bit of getting used to, but felt second nature by the end.
Resonance is an amazingly well put together package, and is clearly a must-have title for adventure game fans or for those looking for an intense sci-fi yarn. Just be prepared for the challenge, or be patient enough (and humble enough) to check for a hint guide. The game has several completely different endings based on your choices, all of which are thought provoking (I’m still debating which one I feel is the “best,” as they’re all satisfying in their own way).
You owe it to yourself to play this game as soon as possible. Highest recommendation.