Review of “Resonance”
I’m a fan of puzzle games and adventure games. I love feeling clever when I figure out a well-crafted puzzle in a game. Sadly though, in recent years, the genre has died off a little, making releases few and far between. When the games do come out, they’re often made to be a little easier to appeal to a larger audience. Indie developer Wadjet Eye Games has ignored this philosophy though and made an adventure game that deserves to be ranked up with other classics like “Monkey Island,” and “Day of the Tentacle.”
It is called “Resonance.”
“Resonance” starts out with major explosions happening in almost every major city around the world, the cause of which is unknown. The game then cuts to 60 hours earlier and you see how everything led up to those explosions.
A smaller explosion happens in a laboratory, killing a scientist who was working on a world changing discovery. The story is told through four characters connected to the scientist: his lab assistant, his niece (a doctor), a reporter, and a detective. To avoid spoilers, I’ll just say that twists along the way left me genuinely shocked. There are also multiple satisfying endings to the story depending on the choices you make, all worth the extra playthroughs.
The game strives to be like the classic adventure games, right down to the graphics style. Everything is pixelated and a little cartoony, lending the game a retro charm without sacrificing fluid movement and characters’ facial expressions. In combination with the art, the voice work is fantastic. All the characters have unique, expressive voices. When they’re not speaking, thought bubbles appear above their heads, which thankfully means you don’t have to hear the same dialogue over and over again when you make the wrong guess about what you’re supposed to do next.
As for the puzzles, they hit the sweet spot of being challenging without being so difficult that you get stuck on them for months at a time (or you feel forced to cheat just to move on). The types of puzzles vary, from the traditional “use object with another object to get result” to various logic puzzles. There are different ways to solve certain puzzles, giving the game even more replay value.
There is also a hint system built into the game. If you do get stuck, talking to another character in your party can steer you in the right direction but they will never directly give you the answer. You can’t really fail puzzles either; there are a few instances where you can die, but if you do, the game just brings you back to before you made the mistake that killed you.
The interface is basic: click the left mouse button to interact with an object, right click to examine it, and click and drag objects to make them interact with each other. The major difference is in the dialogue options. In many games, you’re given a choice of things you can say to other characters and that’s it. In this game, you get a few options but you also have three separate sections you can access in a dialogue tree to get information from other characters. First, there’s long term memory, where the main plot points are stored automatically. There’s your inventory, where you can ask about anything you’re carrying or give it to someone else. Finally, there’s short term memory, where you can take any object from the environment and store it to ask anyone about later. It’s a very welcome alternative to the traditional dialogue trees locking you into set choices. Admittedly, it can get a little annoying, forgetting to put something in your short term memory to ask someone about and having to backtrack to the location just to put it in, but this is only a minor inconvenience and only happened to me a few times.
“Resonance” is a great addition to an old genre, its retro-style graphics make it fit in with classic games in the adventure genre. The puzzles are challenging but not so difficult that you feel like banging your head against a wall. The interface is simple but still brings freshness to the genre that many other games lack. If you’re a fan of puzzles, or even just good storytelling, I’d recommend checking it out.
- The Joystiq Indie Pitch: Resonance (joystiq.com) – Hear about it from the creator
- Resonance Review (godisageek.com)
- Brand-New Indie Game Resonance is the Best 1990s Adventure Game I’ve Played in Years (kotaku.com)