With Project X Zone coming in less than a month, there’s no doubt a slew of questions regarding the game, like: “WHAT ARE THESE SERIES OF GAMES!?” Yes, people can be familiar with Mega Man X or Street Fighter, but other series may not have gained the same attention. One such game I believe to be in the obscurity pile is here: Resonance of Fate. The game was developed by our friends over at Tri-Ace, who you might recall also helped create such favorites like Valkyrie Profile, minus the DS one, and published by Sega, who I sometimes doubt their skill in getting good games made, let alone the numerous failed systems made. But how does this game fare? Let’s take a look!
The story is perhaps one of the weakest points of the game. Throughout the course of the game, you aren’t going to dive into the main plot for a long, long time. The game is told through chapters, and the plot is only slowly trickled out through cut-scenes in the background dealing with the Cardinals. What do you do? You play as three hunters: Leanne, the newer girl to the team and a key character in the plot; Zephyr, slightly older than Leanne but also kinda fills in the emo role of the game with his depression, but he can be light-hearted too, maybe a bit dark on that too; and Vashyron, the leader of the group and the resident pervert of the game while also looking after the other two members. During the chapters, you take on various missions for cash, and that’s pretty much it for a while, as the other chapters are meant to flesh out the world and the characters in it. This is a problem some complain about, but I actually like it, as it does its job in making us care about the characters before immediately upping the drama and use rushed as all hell exposition, like some action games usually do, like Devil May Cry, and I actually do mean both the reboot and the original series. The chapters aren’t perfect, but they do a good enough job in this. In fact, I actually love these chapters the most.
Then comes the main plot which…yeah. Characters I like and help keep me engaged, but the villains of the game don’t really strike me as memorable. Now bad guys don’t always have to be evil, there can always be a question of ethics. In fact, that’s one of the main themes, using religion as a way to manipulate the populace while also trying to gain control of Zenith, the machine keeping everyone alive in Babel since the world below was apparently destroyed or something; this was kinda explained in the manual, albeit this is the laziest part of storytelling. The problem here is telling it. I had to play the game two times in order to get it all, mainly because you have to pay VERY close attention, or you will be lost when it comes endgame.
But my real complaint comes from the dialogue. Sometimes, it can be good and interesting, but other times, characters talk in such a confusing manner about things you don’t really know about or were established that well, it ends up being confusing. I don’t know, maybe I’m just an idiot. Fact is, this could have been done way better. Rather than try to sound smart, how about you speak simple and smart, rather than confuse your audience? This kind of stuff even made the ending of the game really confusing for me, and I’m still kinda confused. If you wanna comment about it, feel free to post below. I get some of it though. Still, when the dialogue is trying to be funny, it can be, but tends to rely on some anime cliches, like pervert jokes. It tends to be hit or miss, especially since I tire of boob jokes; we’ll get into that with one of the next games. And as for characters, I really like the main heroes of the group, particularly thanks to everything is shown overtime.
Then come other characters who are, for a lack of a better word, freaking insane. I won’t spoil it for you, because this is something you have to see to believe in how cartoony they are. I…am not really sure what to think. It kinda lends to the comedy a bit, but I would have been happier with more subtle characters. If I want crazy, I want them to have more substance than filler is all. At least the main enemies can do that much. This is one of the problems of having serious and not serious mixing into a game, as you aren’t sure of the tone the series has, and a real tone isn’t established more until the end. Combined with the confusion, it’s the worst negative for me about this game, yet I still end up liking it, so it isn’t a complete failure. Keeping things simple and straight though could have helped. I’m not saying a game can’t have humor or anything though.
Now while I said that most of the game is build-up with our main cast, that doesn’t mean you don’t have some freedom or that gameplay is not fun. Actually, it can be quite fun and challenging! You face things like goblins and gang members at first, working your way up until you fight true threats, like giant machines and monsters, some of which can range of truck, to Gundam-sized levels! As you progress through the games, while some are elemental and palette-swaps, things eventually do change, and battles are strategic, as you not only have to kill the enemies, but also target parts on their bodies in order to gain new items to create new gear and limit the number of attacks available to them, as well as open new spots to deal direct damage. Surely with all of this against you, you might be asking yourself: “What kind of swords or magic spells am I gonna be using?”
The answer is none of that, because your only weapons are a handgun, a machinegun, and grenades. That’s it. You don’t get any ultimate super attacks like a limit break. You don’t get to summon Godzilla to unleash his nuclear breath on his foes. And you definitely can’t grab an enemy and piledrive them like Mike Haggar does to sharks. The game is centered around using firearms and grenades, as well as using the environment to block or set of explosions against the enemy. Guns are classified as such: handguns are weak, but can stun enemies and even break an enemy’s HP gauge into sections to restore your hero gauge; machineguns do more damage, but can only deal scratch damage to enemies so they can lose more health; and finally grenades which deal direct damage as well, but their damage tends to range from pathetic to overwhelming, as well as adding status effects too. You can also even duel-wield guns to deal more damage as well, and assign certain roles with things like an item box to heal teammates, or deal more damage with special bullets to target specific types of foes or cause status effects. You also have a melee attack, but it’s useless. Aside from that, while I do miss having spells and learning new ones to make combat more interesting, this actually does make things more intense, like you are playing three super-grunts against the same monsters even beings like Dante would have trouble against.
However, none of this is useful without two key factors: the hero mode, and the customization of your guns. When you break enemy body parts, you gain items that can be used to create new parts, making fights more than just simply kill the leader or all enemies. And customization is pretty damn fun too, as you have to choose what you wish to upgrade, as there are factors to consider, like distance, bullet gauge speed, and more. This process though can be VERY time consuming, but not so much since enemy drops aren’t that rare and require more of skill, save for the hexes; more on that later.
Hero mode though is where the games gets a bit trickier, as it is necessary to deal more damage and move around to avoid damage. Here is where things actually look more visually entertaining, as you choose your destination, how far you want to go, and try hit the enemy as many times as possible. This is necessary to take out multiple or stronger foes, or to even gain enemy attention as you jump over an obstacle so their attacks are blocked. This mode does lend to a few problems, but that usually comes from timing. If you mess up the timing, you’re going to crash into walls or other objects. Even larger enemies can halt your tracks, so you gotta be careful. This mode is also forced onto you too, as trying to aim by merely standing and hoping you gain maximum damage output is near impossible. Plus some enemy body parts take way too much damage to break. Luckily as you go through the game, the gauge gets bigger the more you find bezel shards from bosses and hidden areas. Some people said the game’s combat could be confusing, and I don’t really agree, as this is pretty simple…
Until you get to aiming. As said before, manual mode is only selecting a target, but the friggin cursor can sometimes work, and then just as easily work against you by going from target to target you do not want. It is easily the most infuriating part, and makes hero mode more effective against single targets at best. There is also Resonance mode, which allows all characters to attack at once while running in a triangular pattern. Usually more effective. You can also juggle enemies with shots to keep them airborne, or if you jump into the air, your shots can constantly slam them into the ground for extra damage, both methods usually earning coins for spending purposes.
One thing to also note that your health never goes down, as you just receive scratch damage. Once it’s full, usually depending on how strong the enemy is, you lose parts of the hero gauge, which the enemy can pick up and restore their health. Once the hero gauge is gone? Well, we enter a mode I like to call: you are boned. Characters become cartoonishly cowardly, ruining whatever seriousness they were going for, and can only fire their weapons slowly. Also, that is when you will take damage to your actual health, and will die if one person dies. Good news is that there is always a retry option, though you have to pay for that with in-game cash. It can get very annoying, especially on harder difficulties once you unlock them. As for weapon skills, they are gained from repeated usage of weapons and how much damage you deal with them. The levels max at 100, combining character levels to 300, and it is very necessary for health and weight boosts. You also gain new skills for charge attacks, like getting the enemy full of scratch damage and more.
The good news is that there is a lot of fighting to do in the arena, and things can be improved in combat thanks to terminals on the map. On the map, you might notice a bunch of white spaces that block you, and they can be destroyed through hexes you gain through battle, though colored ones can only be activated if there is another color nearby. When you align all the colors to terminals, you can gain their effects, like more experience points and such. Breaking the hexes can also gain you new items, such as new clothing, grenades, and more. The only downside is that the map is bare and not really all that detailed, making it a bit boring to look at. Side-quests are available too, and even have some consequences. For example, not doing the ones for the clothing shop will result in the store closing for good. Considering you can gain better items, doing this stuff is a wise course of action; also helps to save your bacon from insane shoppers.
Visually, people have commented on the graphics being a bit poor, and I kinda half-agree. On one hand, I do find the visuals a bit realistic, and they blend in extremely well, like I’m playing inside of a good CG movie. One the other hand, some characters seem a bit lazily detailed and feel off, especially Sullivan. I don’t know, maybe it’s because I can’t see his eyes thanks to his hair; even in video games, hair remains to be my greatest nemesis. And the battlefields sometimes tend to lack more detail, but that never really bothered me that much, particularly when I have a Yeti trying to freeze me to death with its ice beam. Otherwise, that’s it as far as problems, as gunfire and explosions are done well enough, though the frame-rate does do an occasional drop, excluding the slowdowns that are meant to happen with certain attacks. In fact, in hero mode, that’s where the game can get kind of glitchy, though the glitches were few in number. More detail in the world map and better dungeon layouts though are an absolute must! The poor map is crying for attention, and the best I can do is color code it or clean that dandriff! Dungeons have it worst, pretty much being a hallway most of the time, with some paths leading to treasure, and usually just one hex away too. Sometimes there isn’t even any treasure too! The clothes available to wear, while not really beneficial statistically, are otherwise appealing. You are bound to find something you like no matter what, even if buying clothes can eat your wallet.
Now while I don’t really cover music in many games before, mainly because I can’t really remember the music all too well and don’t really know how to critique music, Resonance of Fate is one of those exceptions, particularly in the battle themes. In combat, the standard theme can be pretty relaxed, save for boss battles, but when you enter the hero mode to try and dash through the area while hitting enemies, the music immediately changes into a more intense and faster tune, matching the atmosphere of the combat so well, it makes it another incentive just to enter that mode despite some risks. The best news is that the theme is never really the same in all the areas and can change quite a lot, mostly in normal battles, but that is a good thing too, not making the audience bored. I highly recommend looking up the OST because it is that awesome. Fight music in my opinion is one of the aspects you want to nail down properly, only topped by very emotional scenes that need music to match up to the drama perfectly, and this is probably the best way to do it. One minute you can be slowly walking around the battlefield, getting assaulted by bullets, but when you activate that hero mode, the music picks up just as you speed through the area like a demon, running and gunning down everything in your path for one desperate push to victory! And once that is over, the music slowly calms down until you do it all over again. Even the Last Remnant did this with the morale system, and I found it very satisfying in that game too, despite the game being a bit lackluster. If you like tension switching, trust me, you will not be disappointed. The other music, while not always sticking into my head, definitely hold up well.
And that’s Resonance of Fate! How does it hold up? Surprisingly well. To me, this was what I was hoping Final Fantasy XIII was: fun to play. Even if the story doesn’t hold up too well for me, the moments with the characters and the development they get is otherwise pretty damn good. In fact, my favorite chapter is actually a Christmas-themed one too! Gameplay and music is the real seller though, offering lots of customization, changing and evolving foes over the chapter, and an otherwise fun adventure. Combat may revolve around guns and grenades, but even without the excitement of unleashing super attacks, the challenge remains to keep you on your toes. It has its problems, like in the detail and layout of dungeons, and even a difficulty spike or two, but this is always a game I can smile when it’s in my Xbox 360, unlike now where I facepalm at the Xbox One. It’s a pretty decent price, usually between $20-30, and it’s worth it. The game is also ridiculously long too. I think it took me over 90 hours for my first playthrough, and I had not even completed the arena challenges either.
Resonance of Fate earns a 4 out of 5.