Resonance of Fate review
Tricky to learn; hard to master


Resonance Of Fate is one of those RPGs... You know, the ones that could've attained a high status and be in amongst the elite of the RPG force, but was sadly overlooked because of one little game... Final Fantasy 13. No disrespect towards that game, but I prefer Resonance Of Fate. Final Fantasy 13 took about 15 hours to get good. Meanwhile, Resonance Of Fate got good within the first hour as far as gameplay goes, and the story truly unfolds later on. Sounds like a recipe for disaster and double standards, but that is quite on the contrary. This is an example of how to have a kickass battle system make the game more badass.

Story: How do you think the world will turn out if we keep our environmental unfriendly actions up? Kind of like what we're given in the game - a poisonous wasteland that has killed most of humanity, and the survivors take refuge in a massive tower known as Basel. It serves as a purifier that should hopefully purify the rest of the world. Unfortunately, there comes a time where machinery has to malfunction, and why not years after the fact? It turns the surrounding environment into a poison wasteland, so here’s where you’re needed – purify it all over again!

The thing with this game is that you're given the backstory, then you have to make do with the characters. Now, the same applies to Final Fantasy 13, but let's be honest - the characters here have a hell of a personality. Scenes can be genuinely hilarious, and the characters you're presented with will become instantly likable as you spend time with them. You'll get bits and pieces of the story as you progress, particularly during the halfway point when a pivotal plot point reaches out and grabs you by the teeth, but let's get real - it feels more like a comedy at times than a serious plot, despite a fairly serious backstory, and while I appreciate humor in an RPG, it kind of makes things less serious. I suppose it goes with the fact that the Japanese are great with corny dialog, and this one kicks it up many notches, but at the same time, when there are serious moments, it doesn't hit you as such. The story isn't shit... in fact, it's actually good for what it's worth, but it's not fantastic, either.

Gameplay: Resonance Of Fate tackles things a little differently from what you’re used to, and it actually starts with the world map, rather than the battle system. Town exploring is cut and dry, since we’ve done it this way a million times, but the world map is tackled a bit differently. Instead of running around a large world, you’re instead snapped onto a grid-looking place. There are areas you can’t cross until you apply an Energy Hex onto them, and this Hex has to fit in the grid without hitting the outside edges, or it won’t work. There are regular Energy Hexes, and colored Hexes for those colored squares. When you fix them up, you can proceed through them. But how do you collect them? Simple – kill enemies! You’ll find them on the world map and in event battles you come across in certain buildings, usually ones where you need to be in order to accomplish the chapter’s mission.

Speaking of missions, there are many missions to do in each chapter, though only a certain mission has to be completed in order to progress. With that said, you should look into the side missions offered in the guild buildings, and accomplish them in order to get some more items and some money for even more items and junk to upgrade your guns. From clearing a path to a certain building to killing certain enemies at a marked place on the map, there’s always something to do outside of the chapter’s mission.

But let's be honest - why did the name "Resonance Of Fate" peak your interest? Because of the battle system! Tri-Ace definitely know how to make a cool battle system, and this is certainly no exception. In fact, I'd go as far as to say that this is the best battle system I've ever used in a Japanese RPG. It's definitely a tricky one to get a hold of at first, but if you stick with it, this will feel like a hell of a system, and you'll really start having fun with the game.

So what is this battle system? With your party of three and a bunch of guns and items like grenades and first aid kits, you move about, shooting enemies down while keeping all three of your comrades alive. The tutorial offered in the arena makes the system out to be rather complicated with many different battle terms and circumstances, though only half of it will stick to your mind. Its heart was in the right place by giving us a good idea of how it functions, but with a lot of instructions and little tidbits going for it, the tutorial makes the battle system out to be more complicated than what it really is. Realistically speaking, only the basics and the Hero Gauge and Tri Attacks will be useful to you.

So yeah, you move about on the battlefield and shoot enemies. As you move, the action gauge will lower, and when it empties, his/her turn is over and play control switches to whoever hasn’t had a turn yet, all until all three of your characters have a turn each, then the cycle repeats. During turns, you can move and shoot from a stationary position, perform a Hero Action, and use an item. Depending on how close you are to an enemy, the time needed to charge up an attack will lower, and you can charge multiple times for a stronger attack, though it can go to waste if the action gauge runs dry, so think about it. Also think about positioning – if you’re in a position where enemies can give you a right thrashing, well, keep a hand near the white flag. If just one character dies, it’s game over.

There are two different sorts of damages – scratch damage, and direct damage. Direct damage is... well, damage. Regular damage you deal in every game. The stuff that lowers enemies’ HP. As for scratch damage, it’s more of a softener. Using a machine gun, you can attack and soften up the enemies; at which point, you bust out the pistols and grenades, and fire, dealing more damage than normal. It’s something you need to keep into consideration as you battle against all of the enemies and bosses throughout the game.

The Hero Gauge allows you to perform a Hero Action, which allows you to plot a straight line from where you’re standing to elsewhere on the battlefield. Plot a course, then press X again, and you’ll be zooming there. On the way, you can shoot the enemy you’re targeting in an over the top fashion, with some fancy flips and actions not unlike what you’d see in the Matrix. You’re also invulnerable to damage while doing this, so you’re basically a powerful unit. There is a risk/reward factor in this – empty that gauge, and be prepared to enter a world of hurt as you take more damage than normal and deal bugger all back for the rest of the battle. KEEP AN EYE ON THE GAUGE! Seriously, I’ve gotten my ass kicked because I didn’t take into consideration just how much I had left on it. It can be restored through killing enemies or destroying parts of bigger enemies, so make sure to keep on the offensive – you could get back on your feet! Unfortunately, if enemies manage to give you enough of a thrashing, the Hero Gauge will lower a peg, so... keep an eye or two out on the gauge and your health meter.

As for Tri Attacks, if you have any Resonance Points, which are built up through performing a Hero Action through the line of sight of the other two fighters, you can execute a powerful simultaneous attack where all three fighters swap positions and attack at once, and this can make for a very powerful attack against enemies and bosses, often tide turning if used at the right time.

Basically speaking, these fights are strategy based, meaning you really need to think about each action carefully, or you’ll be seeing that game over screen over and over again. It’s also pretty challenging. Oh, enemy encounters at first will be child’s play, but that’s to get you acquainted with the battle system. Move onto chapter 1 and get to the building you need to head to in order to complete the chapter – the boss will kick your ass. There are difficulty spikes, but that just means you’ll need to do a little grinding. It’s not as grind heavy as IGN and the like make it out to be, but there’s a bit needed at least. That, and a bit of brain power, since – like I said – it’s a strategy based RPG. There’s more to explain, like how you can save mid-dungeon or mid-battle and how useful that becomes, but this is the kind of game you need to experience for yourself.

Controls: Navigating the Energy Hexes is as simple as 123, as is every other feature in the game. Once you learn what each button does via the tutorials, you’ll be able to remember the commands easily and not get any commands confused easily. All is mapped well enough to accommodate to all players. There isn’t much to think about control-wise, really.

Graphics: I’m not going to lie, the graphics are mediocre at best. There are some nice looking character models and some cool looking enemies and convincing boss designs, and the different clothes the main three can wear have some pretty sweet designs, but everything else, from the world map, to the dungeons, and to everything else related to the environment, well, they look pretty bland and boring. Granted that you’re in a world that’s been screwed over by pollution, it just looks pretty dull. If you’re a graphic whore, forget it.

Audio: The soundtrack is nice and varied. You’ll get the works here, with different genres performed excellently with impeccable timing. There’s a blend of smooth jazz and hard rock integrated into the mix. It’s not the best soundtrack ever, but it’s the most consistent, as each song sounds as good as the last. I say that because most soundtracks I hear in today’s games usually only have a few highlights (if that), so it’s nice to know that every track here is a potential highlight... well, every track that sticks out, not the ambient stuff. As for the voice acting, the actors do an excellent job. You’ll probably recognize Zephyr’s voice, especially if you’ve watched Teen Titans and played Tales Of Symphonia... You’d half expect Zephyr to just go “TITANS! GO!”. The other voice actors manage to portray their characters very well

Overall: Like Grandia for the PS1, Resonance Of Fate was released at a shitty time – when an overrated, overhyped, crappy Final Fantasy game was released beforehand. Shove over, Final Fantasy, and let some SUPERIOR games take the limelight for once. Excellent and tricky battle system, awesome characters, damn awesome soundtrack, fine voice acting and some nice character designs – protagonist or not – should prove to you that you should probably purchase this over Final Fantasy 13.

Story: 4/5
Gameplay: 12/15
Controls: 9/10
Graphics: 3/5
Audio: 5/5
Replay Value: 6/10
Tilt: +4
Overall: 43/50

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