Resonance is an old-school point-and-click adventure game set in the near future. There’s a lot one can take away from that alone, but calling it just another adventure game truly sells it short. Resonance is by no means a perfect game, but it will tell you a unique story with a few surprises along the way.
The game opens with clips of an unknown event that has affected the entire world. Somehow, simultaneous explosions have occurred worldwide, throwing the global society into disarray. But soon after this, the screen fades to black and the player is thrust sixty hours into the past, and is put in control of Ed, a seemingly harmless blonde research assistant. As you progress through the story, you end up controlling a total of four characters, as the mystery of the unknown event is unearthed.
And it is this story that is Resonance’s greatest quality. Those familiar with Wadjet Eye’s previous games such as Gemini Rue know that they’re fans of non-linear storytelling, and Resonance is no different. Players will jump between one of four characters, until they all eventually meet, giving you control over all four at one time. The story is fed piece by piece, constantly answering one question while raising two more. This serves to lead the player along, always leaving one or two bread crumbs to urge the player forward. The plot does drag around the halfway mark, but a very strong finish more than makes up for this.
The characters themselves are what really make the story. Each of the four main characters come off as grounded, realistic people. They’re real people with real lives and jobs, who just happen to get caught up in the chaos before the event. The only downside comes when you realize that some of them may be unreliable narrators. There’s rarely ever a point when a character will make a decision without the player’s input, but their history and motives are often left unknown. This works great as a storytelling mechanism, but can create a disconnect between the player and the characters. Resonance is a game that places story first, and they succeed at telling one that is well rounded and complete.
What sets Resonance apart from the classics that inspired it is it’s use of long term and short term memory, or LTM and STM. While exploring the world, major story events will be saved under LTM, thus essentially becoming inventory items the player can use during certain bits of dialogue. STM functions much the same way, only it’s limited to topics of interest within the current plot point. It sounds a bit complicated, but Resonance takes it’s time when teaching you these basics.
But, even though it’s explained rather well, the most annoying part of the entire game has to be the short term memory function. It works fine; the concept just seems overly convoluted. I would often find myself in situations where I knew exactly what I needed to do, yet I just didn’t know what random object in the environment I needed to add to my STM and present to an NPC. It gets even worse when playing with all four characters, as one will need a specific STM items to progress the story, and even if another character has the same item in their STM, there’s no way to transfer it. It added an unnecessary level of complexity to many of the puzzles that did nothing but make me run between locations time and again.
The other problems with Resonance are pretty well known to fans of the genre. While clicking through the various locales, movement often feels sluggish, and interacting with items in the inventory never feels quite right. I often found myself clicking and dragging items I wanted to use multiple times until it would register what I was doing. And it doesn’t help that the environments get quite cluttered, especially when you have control over the four protagonists at the same time. There were multiple instances where I was stuck, only to find that a character was standing in front of an object I needed to interact with.
Resonance is a flawed yet fantastic game. It is infuriating one second, and emotionally engaging the next. The mechanics may not be the best, but with a point-and-click adventure game, these are flaws you know to expect. Where the game shines is it’s story, and while it’s not the greatest ever told, it has some moments that are truly great. Those willing to trudge through the occasional frustrating encounter will find a unique story worth experiencing.
Resonance is currently available from Wadjet Eye’s website here, and all purchases net you a Steam code as well. If you have any further interest in Resonance, leave a comment below or go talk about it in our forums.
Resonance was developed by XII Games and published by Wadjet Eye Games. A PC copy was provided by the publisher for the purposes of review.