What is it?
Resonance is a new adventure game from XII
Games; they're new to me, but that's not amazing. On the other hand, the
game is published by Wadjet Eye Games, and they are known to me. They're
known for 'classic' style adventure games. By which I mean games that
don't push the technical limits of our hardware, but do present plenty of
mental challenge for the player. This is good.
Resonance was written using the Adventure Game
Studio engine (AGS). This seems to be common choice by independent
developers as a way to get their stories told without necessarily having
to understand or worry about the complexities of the Windows environment.
Or for that matter, the massive variety of hardware and software setups
gamers own. There does seem to be one fairly significant downside to using
AGS however, and that is that the resulting games almost always look
simple, unrefined and low-tech. Resonance may look old-school, with
the relatively low resolution graphics (compared to some of the modern
almost photorealistic stuff that's out there), and the user interface
seems rather clunky. But underneath there's the strongly beating heart of
an adventure game.
Is there a plot?
said, "there's the strongly beating heart of an adventure game" in
Resonance so there'd better be a pretty awesome plot to go with it ...
otherwise what sort of nonsense am I babbling about? Rest assured, I've
not gone nuts, Resonance does have a plot.
is named for a fictional physical effect not unlike quantum entanglement
(pairs of very tiny subatomic particles that remain 'attached' regardless
of how far you separate them in space), but extended to devastating effect
by crossing entanglement with something like a nuclear bomb! The actual
effect called 'resonance' in subatomic physics is more connected with the
bands of energies where particles are found in an accelerator (like those
at CERN, or FermiLab), but who's splitting .... erm .... atoms, here?
fundamental plot of the game is that someone (or some organisation) is
trying to steal the secret of 'resonance' from the lab where it was
discovered. I was about to say that your character in the game works at
the lab as an assistant to the Professor, but as you get the opportunity
to play four different characters (often at your choice) as the game
progresses, it's a bit wrong to use the phrase 'your character' at all.
now that we know there are four playable characters, I can also mention
that they begin with four separate plot lines. One is the lab assistant,
one a nurse in the local hospital, one a police detective, and one a
free-lance journalist. They all have backstories, separate inventories,
and separate memories.
of memories, I think we'll have to come back to that later.
plot develops, you will find that different characters are required to
enact different parts of the ongoing story, but overall the arc will cover
alleged murder, family secrets, international conspiracies, and the modern
perception of conflict between traditional 'news' journalism and 'citizen'
not your run-of-the-mill pseudo-Medieval, swords and sorcery adventure
game, nor is it an episode of any species of CSI!
How do you play?
mechanics of Resonance are almost entirely mouse-based. There are a
few occasions where short amounts of typing are required; passwords,
codes, etc., but nothing demanding in terms of timing. For the most part,
you navigate your selected character around the screen with simple mouse
clicks. When you have two or more of the playable characters with you, you
have one selected at a time, but they can talk to the others, hand
inventory items between them, and ask the others to either stay put or
In the top
left corner of the screen there is always a control panel. This contains
buttons to access the main menu, your inventory, the buttons to switch
characters, and the selected character's short-term and long-term memory.
inventory is pretty obvious, but the novel feature is how the game makes
it possible to talk to other people about all sorts of different objects.
Any clickable object in a scene can be dragged to your short-term memory,
and thence can be dragged onto another person to ask them about it. It's
rather like another inventory, but it's for signs, objects, people, etc.
that you can't walk around with, but need to talk to someone about. If the
person you need to talk to is actually present, you can shortcut around
the short-term memory, and drag the object straight onto them, but if
they're in another scene, you can 'take' the memory to them instead. You
also have access to short-term and long-term memories during
conversations, which means you can change the direction of a conversation
without leaving it.
long-term memories are little cut-scenes of things that are particularly
relevant to the selected character's experiences before and during the
game. You don't control what goes in long-term memory, but you can use it
in the same way as short-term memories. I think this memory model is a
really effective way of enhancing the normal inventory system that
simplifies and enhances the flexibility of the dialog system. No longer do
you have massive, long lists of possible topics for conversation ...
except that, actually, you can choose to talk about anything and
everything in the game - though the response may well be "I don't need to
ask them about that." Watch out though, because the short-term memory has
only seven slots, and memories from areas you can no longer reach are
removed from the list.
rest of the gameplay follows the usual point'n'click adventure game
pattern of walking around the scenes, looking for things to pick up,
talking to people and trying to figure out who, what, when, why and how.
Any other novelties?
long been considered a major positive feature to say that an adventure
game is nonlinear. However, this can lead to unfocused wandering as you
wonder what to do next. There is a certain bounded nonlinearity to
Resonance, but they've avoided too much wandering with two strategies.
Firstly, by allowing you to ask for hints from the other characters. And
secondly, the story is more multi-threaded than truly nonlinear.
times when you have four different threads available to choose from, and
others when the story comes down to a specific event. This worked well for
me. I only found one occasion when I didn't know what the next objective
was, which is not to be confused with the many times when the solution to
the current situation wasn't immediately apparent to me!
Resonance strikes a good balance between the
puzzles that are 'obvious' and the 'wuh?' puzzles. There's a good range
in-between, too. The puzzles are also logical. My personal bugbear is a
puzzle whose solution is not subject to logic, but expects you to hollow
out a French stick of bread to make a blowpipe, down which you shoot a pen
to open a door you won't be able to reach for another three hours' worth
of gameplay! (I admittedly exaggerate, but there are games that make me
feel like that.)
probably like to know a bit more about Resonance and have a bit
less of my whinging. How about I talk about soundtracks. The soundtrack in
Resonance is good quality pseudo-orchestral music. It's not jarring
on the ears, or too sparse, or too intrusive. Again, an appropriate
balance has been struck.
where some independent games fall apart is in the voice acting. In a
plot-driven game, voice acting is critical. Without well-realised and
emotive performances by a cast of quality voices, well, the plot just
doesn't convince. Perhaps some of the characters in Resonance are a
little clichéd, but they're not just two-dimensional pastiches of those
clichés, but characters with backstories and some complexity. The cast
members of Resonance do a good job of rendering those characters
with satisfying professionalism.
area of weakness in Resonance is in the graphics. The characters
and scenes look like something out of the early 1990s, not 2012. I'm not
going to dwell on this though, because the key to this game is the story
and the short-term/long-term memory system, which are far more important.
Resonance has taken me quite some time to
complete, but that's my doing, not the game's. In terms of technical
stability, it has been rock-solid. I thought I had found a dead end
late in the game (at the alleyway, if anyone cares), but I was just being
stupid. The save and load game system is reliable and in a standard form -
there don't appear to be any limits to the number of saves.
finally, did this game resonate with me? (Sorry, one use of the word just
had to get in here).
Resonance is an excellent mixture of conspiracy theory and murder
mystery. It is let down a little by its looks. But it's worth getting
past that to play the game and solve the mystery of
What do you need to play it?
Windows XP / Windows Vista / Windows 7,
1.8 GHz Processor,
512MB RAM (1 GB recommended),
3D graphics card compatible with DirectX 9.0c,
(I used a custom built 64-bit Vista Home Premium SP2 PC
running on an AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual 5200+, with 6 GB RAM, and a Sapphire
Radeon HD4670 512MB video card with mother-board sound card)
can be purchased from the
Wadjet Eye website or via
GameBoomers Review Guidelines