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Michael Kontoudis
13 Apr, 2010

Resonance of Fate Review

PS3 Review | Really Pretty Galling.
The Japanese role-playing game, or ‘JRPG’ as it is affectionately known, is a peculiarly anachronistic beast, largely represented by a few well-known proponents including Square Enix’s Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest franchises. In a global gaming age where most Japanese developers kowtow to the tastes and whims of a western audience, the JRPG is something of a relic; the last bastion of the traditional Japanese offering. It is in this context that SEGA and tri-Ace offer up Resonance of Fate for Playstation 3 and Xbox 360, a role-playing game in the classical mould, albeit with a few keen twists of its own. Boasting a battle system which is arguably the most complex in its field, Resonance of Fate is clearly aimed at the hardcore player in ways which titles like Final Fantasy XIII are not. Does this quirky game resonate, or is it fated to be forgotten as a maddening curio for only the dearly-devout?

Monochromatic and moody is the order of the day.

Monochromatic and moody is the order of the day.
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Resonance of Fate succeeds in creating a fascinating world in which to set its tale; its characters dwell in a steam-punk-inspired dystopia, the Earth having been ravaged to the point of near-extinction for mankind. Those who survive dwell around a gigantic tower called ‘Basel’, which serves to purify the environment and cleanse the air. The blue-blooded aristocrats see fit to dwell in luxury atop Basel, while the underclass slums it at the base of the device. Players assume control of Vashyron, Zephyr and Leanne, being your prototypical orphan youth, cocky veteran of war, and the comely lass, respectively, at a time when Basel begins to malfunction and turn the populace into beasts. While the world and its design are fairly intriguing, Resonance of Fate fails to capitalise on its potential. The plot is virtually nonexistent throughout most of the game, and there is no effective through-line to tie each of the game’s chapters together. Proceedings begin to pick up pace towards the tail-end of the adventure, but overall, there is little satisfying about the game’s narrative. The characters and story are uniquely Japanese in nature, mixing melodrama, quirk and camp into a strange and uneven whole. Broad, silly humour is set off against serious themes in ways which do not always make for a cohesive experience, and overall, Resonance of Fate fails to deliver the sweeping, exciting story so critical to the genre.

On the plus side, this slight and unfulfilling tale is brought to life by some decent visuals and splendid art design. While none of the production values rival the heights of genre heavy-hitters like Final Fantasy, the direction is bleak, evocative and unique enough to overcome some technical shortcomings. Characters are styled with the requisite spiky, floppy locks and androgynous features, but Resonance of Fate is still easy on the eye without ever being technically-astounding. The hexagonal design of the world map is fairly uninspiring, but the detail applied to Vashyron et al is often impressive, including the massive variety of animations, accessories and costumes available for each of them. Voice acting is generally solid, with the ubiquitous Nolan North proving the best of the bunch, and the orchestral soundtrack is suitably handsome and epic, and perhaps more sweeping and grand than the sluggish narrative deserves. Resonance of Fate does not sit at the technological forefront of role-playing games, but it is clear that a lot of love has been poured into its creation; it is yet another testament to the precedence of solid art direction over and above polygon-count or bump-mapping.

Metal Gear?

Metal Gear?
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In terms of gameplay, Resonance of Fate is a bold and intricate beast which is sure to infuriate the uninitiated and test the skills of even the most ardent aficionados of the genre. The game is divided into chapters, and allows players access to nearly all of its mechanics and systems from the outset. Each chapter contains several mandatory and optional missions, and run the gamut from fetch quests to dungeon crawls, the latter of which provides plenty of grinding opportunities. When it comes to battling, which is the mechanic with which you will be spending the most amount of time, Resonance of Fate throws players into the deep end with a minimum of explanation. To cut a long and complicated story short and reduce the unbelievably intricate system to its most basic of elements, players retain control of their party’s individual movements in turn-based arena scenarios where strategic positioning is essential to success. By setting individual waypoints for each of the main characters to traverse, the player can set up a three-way attack whereby each of the party members pummels the enemy in an impressive ballet of gunfire. Couple this core system with other variables such as item management, different types of ‘damage’, environmental obstacles and weapon-switching, and Resonance of Fate becomes unwieldy and intimidating very quickly. The blinding kaleidoscope of statistics, meters and hit-point numbers bursting from the screen and cluttering the HUD makes things difficult to get to grips with for the more-casual player. Not even a cavalcade of text-based tutorials will alleviate the initial sense of bewilderment and flurry of sudden deaths which will be experienced by most.

The most pressing issue facing Resonance of Fate is whether any given player will find the resolve to the master the systems and options at their disposal; it is easy to imagine many players placing the game aside within a few hours of continual pummeling at the hands of their enemies. Admittedly, once the dark clouds begin to part and the battle system ‘clicks’, Resonance of Fate shows just how enjoyable and unique it can be. It is just a shame that tri-Ace could not find a way to ease players into its combat mechanics in a more intuitive, well-measured fashion; but depending on one’s individual tolerance for highly-difficult games, the title still has a lot to offer and can often be extremely rewarding to play.

The game's emphasis on gunplay over melee moves and magic is truly refreshing.

The game's emphasis on gunplay over melee moves and magic is truly refreshing.
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Resonance of Fate is of a substantial length, and will take players approximately thirty or forty hours to plough through. Not of all those forty hours will be enjoyable however, and indeed many of them will involve repeated deaths and grinding. Also problematic is the fact that the game peaks far too soon; the second half of the adventure fails to introduce anything significantly new in terms of mechanics, and as previously noted, the narrative alone definitely fails to propel the adventure and motivate the player to the title’s end. Players who take the time to invest in the battle system will undoubtedly want to see the game to its conclusion, but will only do so in satisfaction of their desire for completion. There is a lot on offer in Resonance of Fate, but only those with the strongest of constitutions will persist.

For a fading genre running the risk of becoming irrelevant to the gaming masses, Resonance of Fate is at once a bold, interesting deviation from the norm and frustratingly adherent to the worst JRPG conventions. Its setting is compelling, its plot piecemeal and flat; for all the depth of its seriously unique battle system, it is a shame that it is so encumbered by needless, obscure complexities and a punishing level of difficulty. Resonance of Fate boasts a lot of bold ideas but fails to contemplate the experience of the end-user; if more attention was paid to narrative coherence and a palatable difficulty-curve, the title would be all the better for it. Sadly, what we have left with Resonance of Fate is a missed opportunity to rejuvenate the JRPG. Hardcore fans of the genre will find it a breath of fresh air and a steep test of their skills, but most others will shake their head in frustration and wonder why the game is daring them to enjoy it.
The Score
Resonance is a bold and intriguing role-playing game which is held back by an atypically poor narrative and a preposterous difficulty curve which will alienate all but the most dedicated.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related Resonance of Fate Content

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19 Comments
4 years ago
thanks for the review, might pick this up when its cheap.
4 years ago
I finished this last night and loved every minute of it. I recommend checking this out if you're at all interested.

The story is weak but the characters are likeable and the world is nicely realised. I completely agree with the sentiment on art direction over polygon counts.

Regarding "Resonance of Fate fails to deliver the sweeping, exciting story so critical to the genre", I agree with the first point but, when the battle system and gun customisation is as enjoyable as ROF's, the mechanics are their own reward. I couldn't put it down.

I don't think the battle system was "unbelievably intricate". There are a number of facets to it, but the tutorial does do a terrible job of covering them. I didn't discover some of the finer details until I was 3/4 finished, but, a few certain boss fights aside, I thought the game provided a steady progression in difficulty and demanded you learn to master the battle system in a progressive way.

I hope there are sequels!

EDIT: I have the asian version of the game... I wonder if the manual explains some of the battle system details I didn't discover until late in the game?
4 years ago
Nice work sharkfinblues. Just how hard is it? Like Demon's Souls hard? Or something more challenging?
4 years ago
It's not even remotely as brutal as Demon's Souls. Like I said, I thought the game provided a steady progression of difficulty... even without a complete uinderstanding of the battle system initially, I never found it discouraging. By the end, when I really needed to know how things worked, I'd figured everything out.

So saying, here's some things that weren't covered or I missed in the tutorial:

- When doing resonance attacks, no matter who starts the attack, you can change who leads it by pressing L1/R1 (you pretty much want that to be your machine gunner)

- Your party doesn't have to attack in the same order each phase. Once all characters have had an action, the third character (for example) can have another action immediately, followed by the other two.

- Don't be afraid to take NO action with characters if you want a party member to have two turns in a row and you're not at the end of an action phase - the enemies only move when you move.

Ok, that's enough from me. icon_smile.gif
4 years ago
I must say he did play the utter arse out of it.....i did come home one night and he says, i mastered the battle system.....then next night i get home and he says remember how i said i mastered the battle system, it made me master it some more.
I made the comment that it seemed like playing a programming language, which i liked.
And the insane gun configurations are absolutely hilarious.
4 years ago
Interesting review, perhaps I should keep my eye open for this cheap. Any difference between the 360 and PS3 versions?
4 years ago
Cyph wrote
Interesting review, perhaps I should keep my eye open for this cheap. Any difference between the 360 and PS3 versions?
AFAIK, the only difference is a T-shirt design for Reanbell between the 2 version.

I initially thought this game did factor in more for the western audience, but as I progress in the game, my initial impression was incorrect.

Yes the narrative may be considered as badly done in the eyes of a western gamer. However, as a predominate JRPG gamer, the story progression is typical of a "Slice of Life" manga genre. The weak main plot progression with heavy "filler" events/stories presents a better experience of "daily life" in a steam-punk world for the player. The player is to take their time, experience and grind. This is not a game for those who like to buy it, rush it through and return within 7 days.

The filler stories/events are light and humourous, to balance the heavy grind and initial high learning curve. The main plot is weak as it's only purpose is to serve as chapter progression to the "end", and a start, if the player so chooses, another level of difficulty in the numerous "New Game+", slowly trying out different weapon customisation, characters setup, fashion and fighting strategies.
4 years ago
Thanks sharkfinblues and JmiYeo for your opinions.

I've been (along with others here) on the fence for this one since before launch. I haven't really been taking notice of review scores, so that hasn't been the problem.

I think I will just wait until it is a bit cheaper before I pick it up.

I recon just around semester break in 8 or so weeks will be a good time then ^_____^. I guess it is a good thing that I hold off now. I have chipped away at all of my unplayed/unfinished games and surprisingly only have Tales of Vesperia left.
4 years ago
Thanks for the additional comments guys, I'll keep an eye out for it. I do enjoy a game with some depth.
4 years ago
Cheers for the feedback sharkfinblues and JmiYeo. Looks like an interesting enough game, I'll see if I can find it at a sweet price for my ps3 then icon_smile.gif
4 years ago
ARRRRRRGH!

Curse you, PALGN! icon_wink.gif

This game is really causing me to go crazy, I think. I cannot for the life of me make up my mind about whether to get this game or not, and then I'll hear of someone who thinks it's the best thing since sliced bread, and then someone else who thinks it's a great "tri-Ace" game, and then someone else who will think, "meh, it's a tri-Ace game", and yet someone else who thinks it's dog's breakfast.

I can't figure out whether to get it or not, even from everything I have read. Things I've seen can't be unseen and some of what I've seen doesn't make me smile, but for some reason I keep on coming back to this game, devouring any article I can about it in the hope that something will finally make me choose one way or the other.

Unfortunately the review isn't the thing that changes my opinion either way.

What a nightmare!

(dlo, you're going to love Vesperia! I can't recommend or praise it enough!)
4 years ago
^follow your heart bro.

I did the same for many of these niche and obscure JRPGs, never regretted once.

and besides, you've been on a JRPG roll lately, so why not?
4 years ago
Good advice there Jahanzeb, that's the kind of attitude I like to encourage. icon_smile.gif Don't be afraid to go out on a limb, you never know what you'll find.

As for me, I've been interested in this game since the first trailer was released and caught my eye. Since then, after seeing more, I've decided to buy the game but I don't believe it's worth the full $70 it's going for. I'll wait until it's about $45-50 and then snap it up!
4 years ago
im getting this - it should be great.

i dont get why everyone wants accessible easy games.

i prefer something new and fresh and despite what are some obvious flaws - this game seems to have them
4 years ago
admeister wrote
, I've decided to buy the game but I don't believe it's worth the full $70 it's going for.
Where have you seen it for $70? Everywhere I've gone its for $90 +!
4 years ago
In retrospect, I think it's definitely worth full price. For me. I haven't been this hooked on a game since Uncharted 2 and Demon's Souls before it.

If you don't mind importing, HKOfferhouse have the Xbox US version for USD $58 and the Asian Xbox version for USD $49. At that price, it's a steal. They're currently out of stock of the PS3 versions.
4 years ago
Well, I bought it. I'm sure I'll enjoy it ... well, I hope. icon_wink.gif

I got mine from Dungeon Crawl. It's quite cheap there, actually. Ad, check it out if you're keen. Something like $59 plus postage. Oh, that's for the 360 version, sorry. Not sure about the PS3 version, which I'm assuming you'd get.
4 years ago
Kyle Clarthy wrote
Well, I bought it. I'm sure I'll enjoy it ... well, I hope. icon_wink.gif
Good man, that's the way. icon_smile.gif Thanks for mentioning Dungeon Crawl, I think I'll still hold off for a bit longer though. I've already got Sakura Wars on the way anyway, which will probably suck up my gaming time.

Cyph: I was actually referring to how much it's going for on Play-Asia, sorry if that was misleading!
4 years ago
Let us know how you go Kyle, I'm interested to hear your opinion.
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  25/03/2010 (Confirmed)
Standard Retail Price:
  $109.95 AU
Publisher:
  SEGA Australia
Genre:
  RPG
Year Made:
  2009
Players:
  1

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