9.0

Resonance of Fate review
Resonate with excellent development

Summary:



When you create a good game and want everyone to bask in its glory, please release it at an appropriate time. Just saying.

Resonance Of Fate is a JRPG that actually manages to break the mould by presenting itself... a bit differently from its competition. You got your normal towns and townsfolk, and random encounters, but that's about all that stays traditional. The battle system, world map and characterization will surprise you with the execution and presentation, and believe me when I say... it's nothing to be afraid of.

I can't quite say that the story was that good. It starts off interesting, but then it evolves into a mess. Basically, the world is polluted and as a result, everybody flees to the Tower of Basel, which has some sort of purification shield. Unfortunately, it malfunctions and most of the tower is left polluted by poison. Let's skip to our heroes, Vashyron, Zephyr and Leanne - they're hunters who take down monsters for cash, and... I don't know, there's some philosophical stuff about existence and... you know what, I stopped paying attention in the second half, because it just hits you with a whole lot of stuff through some long winded speeches, but when it's delivered, it all feels like a barrage of scrunched up paper; not enough depth to actually mean anything significant. Rather, it's just confusing and awkward.

It's quite disappointing, because the first half was excellent. There wasn't much of a story to screw up; it was just three workmates who acted like best friends, and a fair amount of hilarity ensues throughout. I'd rather not spoil some of the really funny stuff that happens between the three, though let's say that the bond they share with each other via the writing is unlike what you'd normally see in a JRPG. Most JRPG protagonist groups communicate like fighting partners - there's the occasional jab and friendly exchange of words, but they end up feeling more like companions than friends. Here, the trio act like they're actually best friends, quick to talk light hearted trash to each other, as well as the friendly exchange of words – and really, isn't that the sort of bond you'd want to see in a video game between travelling companions?



As is the case with all RPGs, Resonance Of Fate's gameplay is split between exploration and combat, though there's a large emphasis on combat over exploration. Exploring towns - or rather, the one town in the game - won't take too long; all you really need to remember is where their base is, where the shops are, and where the guild place is. For the rest of the landmarks, you'll just need to find where the person asking for help is, and maybe a save point... That's about it. That, or go from one battlefield to another as marked by different colored neon lines to proceed in the dungeons.

Exploring the world map is a lot different from what's to be expected. Instead of walking from one place to another, you'll have a marker and the world is split into many hexagonal grids. As you move around on parts that are considered dangerous, you'll randomly encounter enemies, and if you move on the "safe" parts, you'll be fine. In order to explore more of the world, you'll need to purify it with Energy Hexes, which you'll get from battles and from completing side missions. You'll be given clear hexes at first, but as you progress, you'll be given different shapes and colors to clear the different colored and shaped poisonous areas (since you can't purify if all of an Energy Hex doesn't fit inside the hexagonal grid). There is more to it than that, as some hexes and parts that get instantly purified have certain powers over a surrounding part of the world map, but then I'd be here all day, explaining what goes down with it all...

Before battling, there are a fair amount of things that need to be taken care of. For one thing, you'll need to keep your guns up to date with the strongest upgrades. There are a lot of different upgrades that'll either strengthen up your bullets, coat your bullets so that they do more damage against certain types of enemies, or damage the enemy wholly (since a fair few enemy types come with a few body parts that defend the main body from being damaged). There are lots of different abilities you can add to your guns... provided that they can fit, because your guns can only have so many upgrades before none can fit in the appropriate places. Even though the band of three are all the party members you'll have and the guns you carry with you are all the weapons you'll ever have, there is still a large degree of customization to be had... and there are also different garments you can buy and dress the merry trio up with, but for most part, it's just an aesthetic change... a nice thought, though, as it adds more to the amount of customization to be had with the characters!



Now it's time to get into the battle system. What happens is that you have three fighters, each holding a firearm and a secondary assault of either grenades or health packs, and you have to shoot down either the leader of the group, or all of the enemies. Just target one of the enemies and shoot when the circle completes a full rotation - the amount of time it takes to complete this task depends on distance.. so get a little closer if you're impatient, though this will risk a fair bit of damage from enemy attacks, plus when the orange gauge in the character's bar empties, that character's turn ends, and once all three have had their turns, it's time for the enemies to really get on the offensive.

There is a way to make things easier - the Hero Gauge. Represented as a group of red crystals at the bottom of the screen, it allows you to perform Hero Actions. At the press of a button, you can set up a linear path to run across, and as you run, you can either slide or jump, and shoot the targeted enemy. This results in some slick and over the top looking manoeuvres. You're also invulnerable to damage while performing one of these, so there's no need to fear damage. However, if you empty the gauge, you'll be reduced to a bunch of weaklings, sluggishly shooting at enemies, and doing less damage. On top of this, you'll really be taking damage... I'll explain what I mean by that after telling you how it can be recharged - either you kill an enemy, or you manage to survive long enough as slow and weak fighters. In many ways, there is a nice risk/reward system put into place, since when performing Hero Actions, you'll be invulnerable and a bit quicker in attacks, though you'll be risking death, so think about it...

Now, I've said "really be taking damage", and you're probably wondering what I mean by this. What I mean is that there are two ways to damage enemies: direct damage, where you're nailing down their HP, and scratch damage, where you're softening them up for more direct damage than normal. At the start, enemies will be inflicting scratch damage onto you, and therein lies the second way for the Hero Gauge to be emptied; if one of your characters is damaged too much, the Hero Gauge will empty and enemies will then be able to inflict direct damage, so please make sure you keep your guys from being damaged too much.



An interesting action you can perform in battle is a Tri-Attack, where the three fighters switch positions while attacking an enemy or two. You'll need Resonance points to trigger this, and they can be acquired by performing a Hero Action that has a character cross the sights of another character, though if that isn't your next action, they'll reset to zero and you'll need to build it back up again, so it's nice that you only really need one point to pull it off, though more points means bigger results. It's interesting, and it manages to make boss fights easier, which is always a good thing, because boss fights can be pretty damn tricky unless you powergrind (or grind like a maniac). Most bosses can deal heavy blows and reduce you down to dust... always keep on your toes against them.

In fact, this entire game is pretty tricky. Not necessarily the hardest game in the world, but... let's put it this way; if you didn't pay attention to the tutorial, you're going to find yourself lost, dazed, and confused. The tutorial makes the battle system seem hard because there is a LOT of information to digest, but it's not exactly, though it'll take a while to get the hang of it as you come to grasp some foreign terms and try to get certain actions to work. What'll challenge you are, as I've probably made obvious before, the bosses, as they'll be a hell of a test of your skills. Even the enemies might prove to be tricky, well, if you strategize poorly in the dungeons and leave yourself with a small Hero Gauge and barely any HP left. Really, if you aren't too good with strategizing, thinking ahead and adapting, you'll be left in the dust. But hey, if you want to spend a little extra cash, you can restart any battle you lose... what a lovely convenience...



There's no need to tiptoe around the obvious in saying that the graphics are average. The colors are quite dreary and gloomy, which could've suited the fact that it's polluted, though wouldn't purified portions of the tower be... you know, a bit more colorful? The end result is that it looks boring, and the textures, while there, aren't quite up to today's standards. In an attempt to make up for this, the designs for the characters and enemies are excellent. Despite all the greys, browns, and overall muddy colors, there is a huge amount of life within each model, and although nothing excellent from a technical standpoint, the enemies look pretty cool. So, where the graphics are lacking technically, they are very sound design-wise, and in the long run, that counts for a lot.

The soundtrack is EXCELLENT! There's just something about anything Motoi Sakuraba composes that always manages to enhance a game in a more subtle way. If you enjoyed the soundtracks of the Tales and Star Ocean franchises, you'll also find a lot of enjoyment in this soundtrack. It's quite eclectic - never sticks to one mood, genre or anything. One minute, there's a rock song for a battle, and the next minute, there's some symphonic track to make a cutscene seem more epic. Basically, whenever a track pops up, it perfectly suits the moment, and it's always something that'll end up on your MP3 player, guaranteed. The voice acting is also pretty good. There are two you'll recognize quickly if you're fans of the two Uncharted games, Teen Titans and Tales Of Symphonia (and no, I am not making that lame joke!), and they manage to pull off stellar as usual performances. The way they all deliver their lines not only feels organic, but like the music, it also draws you into the story - if only many other games managed this...

Resonance Of Fate is an excellent game. Despite some shortcomings, particularly in the second half, it's still an enjoyable game. One of the best battle systems that can be mustered, three of the best characters and one of the best relationships for said three that you'll ever find in a video game, and above all else, absolute fun if you can learn how to get a hang of the battle system. If you're getting sick of RPGs that follow the same formula set by Final Fantasy and don't mind average quality graphics, give this a spin. You won't be disappointed.

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