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Review of Resonance by Antrax

Stars - 50

Rating by Antrax posted on Sep 6, 2012 | edit | delete

An innovative old-school game

Resonance starts on a relative low note. After a brief section playing as Ed, the game suddenly displays a screen divided into four quadrants, showing different times. I picked one at random and had the story continue, figuring this was some sort of puzzle. That conclusion lasted just until I finished the next segment, at which point I was returned to the four-quadrant screen with three quadrants “left”. The idea was that you play briefly with each of the four characters, learning different game mechanism, before the game “really” begins, but the screen was counter-intuitive so I was unsure what I was choosing, at first.

However, that is the only point that lacks polish in the entire game. The game is incredibly tight - pretty much everything is well thought out and nothing happens for no reason. Playing through the game again, you discover a multitude of subtle clues, showing just how rich a tapestry the game weaves.
The plot is intriguing and very well written, despite the characters being mostly plot-advancing tools. That stands to reason, though - to further flesh out characters at the meticulous level of details of everything else in the game would quadruple the game in length, not a bad prospect, except it would mean we’d have to wait for 15 more years until it came out.
The strongest point, for me, was the puzzles. Unlike so many modern adventure games, this one doesn’t shy away from introducing challenging sections, without coddling the player via intrusive sidekicks spouting hints or many of the other tricks developers use these days so us poor gamers wouldn’t have to feel any frustration. Many puzzles are difficult but none are unreasonable, and they all share that “aha” moment when you solve them, meaning the solution is logical and satisfying, rather than arbitrary. Logical item interactions work or don’t work in a way the game explains. In short, this game is a heaven for those of us who miss the days where adventure games were more of a mental obstacle course.

The game has no dead ends (an unforgivable sin in my opinion). I was able to accidentally bypass a section of the game without acquiring an inventory item, so the game made sure I could get it in another place, without it feeling shoehorned in. There are no “uh, let’s just wait a bit before advancing, I think we may be missing something” or “let me just pick up this object while we’re moving to the next area” crutches that are sometimes present in order to prevent this - instead the game is just well-designed.
You CAN die (at some points, needlessly, I felt) but the game immediately rewinds time to before death, and I could see no ill effect, point-wise or achievement-wise, to this happening, so the game does reward experimentation and exploration.
I even forgive the inclusion of two mazes, seeing as the sections are short and make sense within the context of the story, and no mapping was required - just keep your right hand on the wall and you’ll be out of them in no time.

To balance this sparkling review, the only things I would change are:
- Add a pause feature. There are some (easy) timed sequences and sometimes real life intervenes in the middle of a play session.
- Lose the achievements and scoring system. While they’re mandatory new and old-school respectively, the achievements are minor spoilers and don’t really contribute much, and the points give you a progress bar that somewhat ruins the “wait, there’s more to be done” moment late in the game.

Other than those minor issues, the game is spotless. If you like challenging games with a compelling plot and functional characters, this is a great buy. I’ve played it through twice already and recommended it to some friends, and have yet to hear someone disappointed with it.

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Time Played: 5-10 hours

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