Developed by tri-Ace (of Star Ocean fame) and published by Sega, Resonance of Fate set in a ravaged and decimated world, the last of humanity clings to existence on the giant tower Basel. There live the 3 main characters, Vashyron, Zephyr and Leann. They’re hunters, guns for hire, which makes this game unconventional at least. Its not often you get an entirely gun-based RPG. So was the risk worth it?
Visual Presentation – The Littlest Gangster
The game’s graphics are a little rough around the edges, literally. While just about par with other current generation titles, the visuals are sometimes grainy and the lighting effects are distracting. During cut-scenes, the shadows are too dark and opaque, often obscuring the characters’ faces in awkward ways.
But where the game really shines is in its art direction. The look of the world blends several themes together into sort of stylized-distopian-clockwork-industrial revolution motif. For example, the main characters’ hometown, Ebel city, features quaint cobblestone streets lined with drab brick buildings occasionally interrupted by sets of huge, slowly spinning gears. Other, poorer, parts of Basel look harsh and dirty, almost post-apocalyptic. And if you’re like me, you’ll be quite amused by the whimsically absurd yet gritty enemy designs. You’ll find yourself battling large oily skinned creatures wearing bits of oil drums as armour, tie and fedora clad dogs or bazooka wielding elephants.
Audio, Music and Voice Acting – Adding Insult to Injury
Music plays a fairly secondary role in this game. While the soundtrack is nothing earth shattering, the generally soft orchestral pieces do a good job of setting an appropriate mood. The real highlight is the voice acting. Both the original Japanese and English language tracks are available, a boon for purists. But surprisingly, I chose to use the English dubbing for the majority of my playtime because there’s a lot of un-subtitled dialogue you might not want to miss, especially in battle (lots of trash talk and plenty of jokes). More importantly, the English actors were well casted and deliver their lines well, accurately depicting their characters’ quirky personalities.
Gameplay and Mechanics – John Who?
The most innovative, dynamic and difficult to describe aspect of Resonance of Fate is its combat system. So for the sake of brevity, here are the basics. Unlike most other fantasy theme RPGs, fighting is done with guns and grenades rather than swords and magic. During enemy encounters, players navigate characters in a 3-D environment in a semi-real-time system. There’s an action bar that drains as you move or attacks. As you act, so do your opponents. Pressing the X button begins charging attacks and drains the action bar steadily. Press it again before the bar drains fully and watch your character unload a clip into the opposition. The more charges you accumulate before attacking the stronger and greater the effect.
Where things start to get crazy is with the Hero Actions. You start Hero Actions by picking a point in the environment and your character will run along a straight line towards the point letting you charge and attack at will. In addition, during Hero Actions enemies can be knocked into the air allowing you to juggle them upwards or jump to strike them from above. Add into the mix other mechanics like Smackdowns, Bonus Attacks, Gauge Breaks and Tri-Attacks (essentially a Hero Action with all three characters simultaneously) and you’ll suddenly realize there’s fair amount of depth to the combat.
But the most entertaining part is the way in which it’s all presented. Games that feature guns are often tough and gritty but this one is different. Blending visceral gunplay with exaggerated acrobatics, its sense of style is somewhere in-between Bayonetta and a Hong Kong action flick. As your characters strike, they flip, weave and jump, spraying the air with bullets. During Hero Actions and Tri-Attacks, the camera chases your character as they sprint along, the edges of screen blurred to simulate super speed. When you attack time slows and the camera snaps to a different angle as rounds riddle your enemy. Even the music becomes louder and quicker. It all culminates in a brief but enthralling cinematic-like experience that repeats itself over and over. Granted, some of the animations are recycled repeatedly, but the more charges you save before shooting, the more over-the-top and unbelievable the maneuvers.
It’s also worth mentioning the degree of customization available in the game. In fact, the entire weapon system is based on it. Rather the simply finding more powerful guns, you can increase their stats by adding attachments. These range from the ordinary scopes, sights and expanded magazines to the ridiculous. These include extra barrels that seem to attach to nothing or sights with mounting rails on top for more sights! You’ll soon be creating your own Franken-pistol with 6 sights, a drum clip, handgrip and 3 extraneous barrels.
If you’re a fan of customizable outfits (and who isn’t?), then you’ll love all the alternate clothes and accessories available to find or buy. Aside from the expected features: new shirts, shoes and the like, there are different gloves, eyewear, gun holsters, hair dyes and colored contacts. Murder folks and look good doing it!
Overall Experience – Blending the old and new
Resonance of Fate is one of the more interesting RPGs to come out in a while. Its intriguing art style, good voice acting and cryptic storyline will draw you in at a first but what will keep you immersed is the combat system. Aesthetically, every fight is a fast paced, stylish, cinematic experience. In terms of gameplay, it’s complex and strategic but not overwhelmingly so. Winning usually requires only a minimal amount of forethought and planning. The learning curve is a little steep initially but once you can wrap your head around the basics it comes fairly naturally. The weapon and costume customizing are both fun, even if the latter is totally superfluous.
Resonance of Fate is developed by tri-Ace and distributed by and provided courtesy of Sega of America. Review done using PS3 version. Game played for 50 hours, reached Chapter 6. Most attachments added to a gun: 18