August 3, 2012

Poignant and Click Adventure

Lasting First Impressions of Resonance

Developed by xii games  |  Published by Wadjet Eye Games

Resonance boxart

» Adventure games and I go way back. From early text adventures such as Zork and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, to graphic adventures combining text parsers with on-screen animation such as the King’s Quest and Space Quest series, to the point-and-click adventure classics Maniac Mansion and The Secret of Monkey Island, the genre grew and evolved with technology and I played and enjoyed pretty much all of them. Popularity began to decline in the mid to late 1990s (at least in North America) as adventure games dabbled in full motion video and polygonal 3D environments, while advances in computing power paved the way for the first-person shooter. Although Telltale Games has enjoyed success both critical and financial with their modern hybrid adventures in episodic format, we’ve not seen many true point-and-click adventures lately that fully embrace those old school sensibilities. Wadjet Eye Games has been aiming to change that and has recently teamed up with Xii Games to produce a classic-style PC adventure game with some interesting new elements. I spent an hour pointing and clicking my way through Resonance to see if this indie title is worth warming your digital flexors up for.

Resonance screen 1

Let me just start off by saying that Resonance is the real deal. The underpinning Adventure Game Studio engine offers a few options from running the game in 320×240 resolution rendered using DirectDraw up to running in 1280×960 resolution using Direct3D with graphics filters. I wholeheartedly recommend plain old 320×240 in fullscreen mode with no filters; you’ll feel as though you’ve stepped back in time. The pixel art and character animations have been lovingly crafted and evoke a true sense of nostalgia while still feeling fresh and original. The chunky interface includes the quintessential pull-down toolbar for inventory management and system options and even features a running score counter to help you keep track of your progress as you attempt a perfect run through. Ok, so it’s a bona fide point-and-click adventure, but what about story, characters, and puzzles? Read on, adventurers.

Resonance’s mature and contemporary sci-fi story is teased in flash-forward through breaking news video footage of mysterious large-scale attacks at various sites around the globe and then the game begins, Zac McKracken style, in the apartment of awkward mathematician Ed Eddings, the first of four playable characters. Here you learn that Ed’s boss and particle physicist Dr. Javier Morales has concerns over his safety and the potential for misuse of his new scientific discovery, all while introducing you to the basic gameplay mechanics and interface elements. Resonance cleverly introduces the remaining three characters in introductory chapters, playable in any order, before letting you switch between them at will. Besides Eddings, you’ll play as Anna Castallanos, a shy medical doctor with a troubled past, Detective Bennet, a cop who likes to play fast and loose with the rules, and Ray Abbot, a confident and adventurous investigative reporter. The stories of all four are deftly interwoven as they learn of the gruesome death of Dr. Morales and collaborate to find answers, each for their own reasons. Character dialog is well-written and often humourous, and most outward dialog is voiced acted and of surprisingly high quality (be sure to listen for a familiar voice from Bastion).

Resonance screen 2

Resonance also features a novel ‘memory’ mechanic where significant events in each character’s storylines appear, inventory-style, as Long Term Memories and where any interactive object in a scene may be dragged into Short Term Memories and these memories may be recalled in order to solve puzzles or to fuel conversations and open up new paths. Combined with character switching, this provides for some intricate puzzle solving opportunities not seen since Day of the Tentacle. This may sound complicated but thankfully the puzzles are rational, logical, and enjoyable, albeit sometimes initially elusive, and some even have multiple solutions depending on previous choices you’ve made and areas you’ve explored.

I did experience one crash around the one hour mark as if to tell me my review time was up (a workaround was posted on the publisher’s forums as of this writing), but this was certainly forgivable given the low price tag and indie development track. If you’ve been longing for a retro point-and-click experience, Resonance definitely delivers. If you’re a younger gamer or one that has never delved into the annals of classic PC adventure gaming, then you’ll probably have to overlook the visual aesthetic but should still find solid story and gameplay here to enjoy. I haven’t been this engrossed in a sci-fi thriller adventure game since The Dig and I’m stopping right here so I can dive back in and see what happens next.

xii Games, I gave you an hour and I am IMPRESSED.

About the Author

is an avid gamer on all platforms, unapologetic graphics whore and peripheral junkie. He is also a drummer both electronic and acoustic, a loving husband, and adoring father to two lovely girls. Follow Craig on Twitter as @Talus as he eats sandwiches and posits on the latest inconsequential happenings in the games industry.



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