Some days I just want to slow down. Since hitting the ripe old age of twenty-eight, I’m finding myself less and less likely to leap into a fast paced first-person shooter after a long day at work. Instead, I find myself looking at games more and more as a method of relaxation and reflection, and that’s when I reach for my ever-growing catalogue of point and click adventures.
XII Games’ Resonance, published by Wadjet Eye Games, is the newest offering to the genre. It follows the intertwining adventures of four different characters, brought together by their connection to the death of an experimental physicist. With a terrifyingly powerful technology on the loose, they find themselves in a desperate race against time to locate the scientist’s missing vault.
With four characters under your control, each offering different abilities and personalities to the equation, things can easily get a little confusing. To combat this, each character is introduced with their own simple scenario; an isolated adventure-game in miniature that allows you to discover them for yourself. By the time you’re juggling all four characters simultaneously you’ll have a good grip on what each of them is capable of, and what kind of person you’re dealing with.
But ‘what of the puzzles?’ I hear you cry. Whilst still expecting you to pick up anything not nailed down, Resonance adds a surprisingly refreshing system of short and long-term memories to its repertoire. Want to ask somebody about an object in another room? Just drag it to your short term memory and take the idea of it with you. Whilst it takes a while to get used to, (often I ironically forgot to commit an item to memory) it’s an interesting addition to an age-old formula.
The puzzles themselves vary from the simplistic to the complex, some requiring you to use two or more characters in conjunction to solve multiple objectives. I admit to resorting to a walk-through on a couple of occasions, but if you’ve enough time to sit and think for a while, most solutions are logical enough to muddle your way through.
In addition to the standard formula of applying one object to another, more physical elements have been added to some interactions. Handles must be rotated by circling the mouse, levers must be pushed and pulled. It may seem like a simple mechanic, but as a result simple actions change from standard inventory interactions into moments of jaw-dropping tension. These ‘mini-games’ are not overused, but their presence, especially in more time-constrained moments, bring much to the traditional adventure-game format.
Failure at one of these tasks does not mean a reload. Fail anything in a fatal way and time will immediately reload to before your last mistake, allowing you another crack at the task. It’s a neat twist on failure, acknowledging your failures without punishing you excessively for them.
But puzzles aren’t the deciding factor in an adventure game; without a story driving you onwards, you’re likely to give up at the first sign of a challenge. Conveniently, Resonance offers a thrilling ride involving political intrigue, mistrust and the perils of scientific research. Coming fresh from a market crammed with bland shooters, it’s a reminder that no other genre has been able to quite match the story-telling abilities of the adventure game genre.
Whilst the dated graphics of Resonance might put some people off, adventure-game purists will lap up the artistic style required by a limited resolution. Despite the lack of pixels on offer, Resonance manages to be both detailed in its environments and charming in its characters. In the audio field, the vocal talents of Edward Bauer, Sarah Elmaleh, Daryl Lathon and Bastion’s Logan Cunningham provide expert vocal performances. Each individual character is given life through a well-written script, providing believable interactions and conversations between characters.
Resonance dispels any question as to whether or not traditional adventure games have a place in modern gaming. The expertly crafted story weaves with intriguing yet logical puzzles to create one of the finest adventures I’ve played this year. Whilst it doesn’t try to re-invent the wheel, Vince reminds us in Resonance that sometimes you don’t have to. Sometimes you just want to boil the kettle, make a cup of tea, and just experience an amazing tale.
Verdict: Red Mist
Platforms Available – PC
Platform Reviewed – PC
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