Nukezilla Review: Resonance (PC)
A point-and-click adventure in the classic sense, Resonance weaves a tale of intrigue with a sci-fi twist.
An explosion at an experimental research facility brings together four unlikely companions: a research assistant at the lab, a doctor, the detective investigating the incident, and an investigative journalist on the trail of the mysterious Antevorta project. Their journey to uncover who or what is behind the destruction takes them all over Aventine City.
A conspiracy is afoot and many things are not what they seem. Who can be trusted? Which details are important and which are simply red herrings? Resonance does a great job of keeping the player guessing, without ever leaving you completely lost.
Any aspiring game… screen… writers (we really need to come up with a generally accepted term for the videogame equivalent of a playwright or screenwriter) should study what ahs been done in this game. Without giving anything away, Resonance manages to pull off one of the biggest twists I’ve ever seen in a game. After the fact, the few subtle hints the developers sprinkled throughout the earlier parts of the game start to line up, taking on new significance. It really is a wonderfully crafted story.
The voice acting carries the story well. The only characters I didn’t like at times were the detective’s rarely seen partner, and more problematic, the nerdy lab assistant protagonist. The more I thought about it though, neither one is really that bad in context. I didn’t like the uptight cop, but he’s supposed to be uptight. I didn’t like how awkward the lab assistant was, but he’s supposed to be a math wiz in way over his head, so it makes sense for him to be bit socially awkward penguin. Even with those minor gripes though, I was thoroughly impressed hearing this quality of voice over work in a $10 indie game.
Resonance deals with dystopian themes, but takes place in a more or less modern setting. The bleeding edge science its story revolves around is fictional, but is believable given the sub-atomic particle research being carried out at places like CERN.
The game also takes its cues from the mid to late ‘90s point-and-click adventures. The characters are moderately detailed, pixelated sprites. There isn’t much in the way of facial detail, but characters are easily identifiable.
The world is presented through a series of well-drawn backgrounds, from seedy back alleys to the destroyed lab. Items don’t really jump out at you from the backgrounds, which is both a blessing and a curse. It helps the game world feel more cohesive, but it can also turn some puzzle elements into a pixel hunt if you haven’t already figured out the next step.
There is a slight divergence from standard point-and-click adventure mechanics with the addition of the short and long term memory systems. Short term memory works as something of a secondary inventory system. Basically, in order to ask characters about certain things in the world, you have to first drag the person or item (usually items to large to pick up) to the STM slot, then ask about it. Long term memory items work pretty much the same way as short term, but are automatically added throughout the game, and are mainly reminders of major events or important conversations. The system can occasionally add to confusion if you are just lost in a puzzle, but I got the hang of it pretty quickly. I got the feeling that they could have just worked it into the normal inventory and dialog systems, but it was done well enough that it isn’t a distraction.
It’s nice to see a game that keeps the hand holding to a minimum. It does still keep the adventure game standard of having the other characters nudge you in the right direction, but that’s the kind of hint system I like. The game gives you (or reminds you) of a small piece of the puzzle and leaves it up to you to figure out the rest.
Resonance shows why it was such a downer when point-and-click adventure games did their disappearing act in the late ‘90s, and why their recent resurgence is such a good thing. Long time fans of the genre, or really anyone interested in seeing what state it’s in before checking out Tim Schafer’s much lauded upcoming revival, should do themselves a favor and give Resonance a shot.