Imagine that one day you turn on your TV and instead of stupid political debates, boring soap operas and even duller sport events, you can see absolute pandemonium. The biggest cities in the world are on fire, the White House lies in ruins, British Parliament turned into a debris, total chaos is reigning over the streets. What happened? Terrorists? Alien invasion? Third World War? Nobody knows. All that is left are horrifying speculations and primal, petrifying fear. Welcome to Resonance, you’ll have a jolly good time here!
The apocalypse described above is an intro to the game, although the proper story begins sixty hours before the deadly events. We see how Ed, a young scientist, is woken up by the call from his boss, Javier Morales, who is clearly shaken up and afraid that something or someone threatens his research. Ed decides to go to the lab at once, but the haste doesn’t stop him from flirting on the subway with Anna, a medical doctor with a really dark past. Nonetheless, our protagonist arrives too late – the laboratory was blown up in a mysterious explosion. On the premises he acquaints detective Bennet, an overweight but seasoned cop, and together they finally manage to find the mortally wounded professor Morales and transport him to a hospital. On his deathbed Morales gives Anna, who turns out to be his niece, directions how to find his invention called the “Resonance”, which he cautiously hid before the catastrophe. Resonance is actually more of a discovery than an invention per se, but anyway it has the power to help humanity ascend beyond imagination or to destroy it completely. The group of unwitting heroes – Ed, Anna and Bennet – is joined by Ray, a sleazy journalist with dubious moral standards. They need to find together the professor’s research and they need to do it real quick. That kind of power after all attracts a lot of unpleasant people prepared to do anything to obtain it…
This is just the beginning of the story. Later the motifs begin to multiply and expand, we get to know the characters better and also their past (especially Anna’s – that girl really had it rough) and we may wonder who actually is a good guy and who is a bad guy. Or maybe such clear-cut division doesn’t make any sense in Resonance? One of the many plot twist confirms it quite dramatically. How far can you go to do what you believe is right? How much blood can you spill for the greater good? The game asks those question but does not provide easy answers. In a way we can decide for ourselves by choosing one of the two endings. They both are rather bitter and depressing, so don’t count too much on a happy ending “and they lived happily ever after” style. It’s definitely a completely different kind of tale. However, if you seek a gripping and clever story that will catch your full attention for at least ten hours filled to the brim with action, you’ve come to the right place.
This right place is inhabited not only by a great plot, but also by satisfying gameplay, which is important in every video game. Resonance is a point ‘n’ click adventure game with very simple controls. Left mouse button is used to move the character around and interact with the world and right mouse click allows us to examine something further. To use collected items you just drag them from your inventory to the proper place. Nothing fancy, one may say. Wrong! One of the things that distinguishes Resonance from any other adventure games is the system of long term and short term memory. These are two separate things, but their usage is really similar. The long term memory of a character is updated automatically and it holds the most important events in the game and the stuff that we have to do in the near future. We can say that it works a bit like a diary, reminding us of the plot. However, the content of the short term memory is entirely up to the player. We fill it by dragging various hotspots into the right menu, for instance a broken window or a sign on the wall. Why we should do it? Because during conversations with NPCs we have the opportunity to put items or memories inside special “box”, which enables us to talk about the given issue with the person. It is often the only way to progress. At the beginning the memory system may feel a bit complicated, but we quickly get used to it and simultaneously pay more attention to our surroundings. We can never be sure whether a valuable clue lurks somewhere in the shadows. Thus, we should ask every character about everything. Even if we don’t find anything new, we still will be able to listen to clever and occasionally witty dialogues, which are usually different for each of our four heroes.
Resonance enables us to maintain control over four people and switch between them at will. Each hero has a separate inventory and particular skills (e.g. Ray can hack) or connections (Anna can move freely within the hospital walls). The cooperation is obviously the key to success. I feared that controlling so many people will be confusing, but fortunately it is not so. In some games even two heroes at once may be too much, but here the system functions very well. What’s more, you can always ask another character for help or directions. Still, there were two things that I didn’t like. The first one is the lack of an option to automatically gather all the characters in one place. When we direct them to different places to run some errands, it’s tiresome to manually bring them all back together. The other thing is that some parts of the game are a bit overdone. I’m referring here mainly to the “magnet puzzle”, in which you have to constantly juggle between your characters and flip two billions switches. It took a long time to complete, was absolutely tedious and triggered a vicious fit of yawning. Sometimes less is more, dear developers.
And speaking about puzzles, Resonance is not a game for the beginners. Even if you’re genre savvy, many inventory based jigsaws and conundrums may provide a formidable challenge. The game has also a few scenes where time is essential. If we’re not quick enough, we die. However, instead of the hateful sight “game over”, Resonance just rewinds us to the beginning of the situation, so we can try again. It’s a nice feature and deserves one big “gaming like”. Another plus is that the game is not extremely linear and we may skip some things and still succeed. One of the skippables is a horrid puzzle involving hacking a door. Solving this may take up to two hours of your life. But why bother if you can get to the blocked room through the window? I swear I can hear in my mind developers singing the “Trololo” song. Desperate people may, however, try and solve everything because in the game we get points for everything we do, just like it was, for example, in the Gabriel Knight series. There are 340 points to collect, not to mention a bunch of achievements. You cannot gather every one of them in one go, so there’s always a pretext to finish the game again.
In the graphics department there’s nothing missing. Everyone can see what the graphics look like and the pictures tell more than a thousand words (each). Resonance was made in a style of early 90’s adventure games and you either like it or not, it’s a matter of taste. Frankly speaking, this type of graphics looked much better in Gemini Rue, but it doesn’t mean that Resonance is an ugly game. Far from that. One need to appreciate all the little details that the creators put into backgrounds, like graffiti on the walls. It’s as well impossible to find fault with the characters and their animation.
The music in the game is there and that’s basically everything I can say about it. It plays there somewhere, but none of the tracks really remained in my memory. Five seconds after switching the game off, the soundtrack vaporised completely from my brain. Oh well. Dialogues are fully voiced, apart from the moments when characters are speaking to themselves in their minds. That makes sense and helped to save a bit of money on the actors. Still, the developers weren’t all together stingy, since they employed Logan Cunningham, a star of Bastion, in the role of Bennet. Generally voice-acting is really good and pleasant to hear.
Resonance is a great adventure game and definitely needs checking out. The plot is completely engrossing, the puzzles force us to overheat our brain and little curiosities like long and short term memory or the control over four people make the game even more worthwhile. If you want a bit of darkness and moral ambivalence, Resonance will be a great purchase. I recommend it with all my heart.
+ gripping and ambivalent story
+ maintaining four characters at the same time is manageable
+ the system of long and short term memory
+ challening, but well-thought puzzles
+ two different endings
– occasionally the puzzles are too challenging and overdone
– managing four characters can be at times somewhat tedious