Genre: Sci-Fi Thriller Adventure
Release date: June 19, 2012
What if you had just discovered a new form of energy that would enable you to split apart a molecule and store the two separate pieces? What if these two pieces had such an attraction to each other that if you released them they would rush towards each other as fast as possible? What if no matter how far apart they were, the energy pulling the two elements would increase until they were once again joined? What if the joining of these two particles would give off enough energy to power a building, or to destroy it? This is the dilemma facing Dr. Morales, a particle physicist in Resonance.
The game starts with you playing Ed, research assistant to Dr. Morales. Ed is awakened by a worried call from Dr. Morales. He seems worried that his invention could be used to cause more harm than good. Ed quickly reassures Dr. Morales and goes on his way to work. Along the way we meet three other characters: Anna, Dr Morales' niece; Bennet, a police detective; and Ray, a well-known political blogger. You get to play each character individually, but they are drawn together very quickly after a city-wide blackout. The game continues with you controlling the four players as a group.
Resonance has, perhaps, one of the best stories to come to the adventure game world since Dreamfall. I’ll keep this review spoiler-free, but this is, perhaps, the first time I’ve played a game where my jaw actually dropped when the story twists showed up. All the hints were there, but the game masterfully puts all the clues in front of your face while drawing zero attention to them. The unexpected outcome is effectively masked until it’s time for the big reveal.
The Puzzles and Memory
Many adventure games are based on inventory puzzles and Resonance is no different in that regard. However, the game takes a common approach and adds a twist. In addition to inventory, which is standard, this game adds long-term memory and short-term memory.
Long-term memory is used to store events of the past. This enables you to use these memories when conversing with people. Items are added automatically to long-term memory as you progress through the game.
Short-term memory is used to store references non-inventory items such as a safe or broken window. You click the item you want to store and drag it to your short-term memory box.
The trick to being successful in this game is figuring out which items you want to store in your short-term memory and which characters you should ask about those items. With so much to explore, a lot can go into the short-term memory and deciding what may be important later is not always the easiest thing. Short-term memory is limited to 7 items, so you can’t pick everything.
Sound and Graphics
The soundtrack is apt and the voice track is good enough. I did notice that not all dialog bubbles have voice tracks behind them. Most character conversation does, but not every item you examine will result in feedback spoken by the character. I’m unclear whether this was due to my review copy not being complete or if this is a design choice made by the developers. Publisher Wadjet Eye, on a commentary track of an earlier Blackwell game, stated that allowing “non-audio” speech bubbles had given them more flexibility in game design and final speech recording.
The graphics are the only spot where I feel Resonance was lacking. The game is built as a retro game, and the graphics feel that way. My initial impression was that everything looked a bit pixelated and very mid-90s. After you get five minutes into the story you won’t be focusing on the graphics, so I never gave it a second thought. This is a minor annoyance in the very beginning, but once you get going you’ll just be happy to be along for the ride.
Resonance is as close to perfect as they come. The puzzles will make you think, the long- and short-term memory is innovative, and the story will keep you on the edge of your seat. I’m unclear whether to call this the best non-Blackwellgame to come from Wadjet Eye Games or simply the best game to come from Wadjet Eye Games. Give Resonance a try, because it doesn’t disappoint.
Final Grade: A
Pentium 4 1.8 GHz
12 MB RAM (1 GB RAM - Vista/7)
graphic card 256 MB (GeForce 6600 or better)
1 GB HDD