Resonance of Fate – Staff Review

Far in the future, the world has decayed. Toxins have poisoned the air and water, and the Earth’s axis has warped. Unable to adapt to these changes, humans were slowly dying out as a species. Those lucky enough to survive created Basel, a giant machine beneath the earth designed to repair the environment, while also doubling as the only area able to sustain human life. It is here that Resonance of Fate takes place.

The story, like many of tri-Ace’s offerings, is hit and miss. As described above, the premise and world design are incredibly interesting, and the dialogue itself is very well written. Taking a cue from Radiata Stories, humor is a large part of Resonance of Fate, with characters often exchanging hilarious one-liners even in battle. Despite that, the story has a dark edge to it, which becomes more apparent the longer it goes on.

Unfortunately, exposition is a serious problem. There often is no context given to what is happening (especially regarding the ending, a serious crime against nature), character backgrounds are left vague, and completely illogical events happen quite often. For example, one mission has you infiltrating a decrepit city under reconstruction, and despite your killing a number of a high ranking official’s guards, nobody seems to care afterward.

Hero Action!
Hero Action!

The battle system, similar to previous tri-Ace offering Valkyrie Profile 2, is a hybrid of real-time and turn based; all characters have an Action Gauge that drains when moving or charging up for an attack, and enemies move when you do, so a certain amount of strategy is required when deciding on a plan of action. Resonance of Fate however, features a number of improvements to this system. Noted above, attacks are chargeable, and the longer you charge an attack the more your attack strength increases.

HP damage is divided into two different types: Scratch Damage and Direct Damage. The former is the most common you will encounter. While Scratch Damage does no actual harm to an enemy, filling its HP gauge with such damage enables you to instantly kill it with a Direct Damage attack. Conversely, when your HP gauge is filled with such damage, you lose Bezels from the Hero Gauge. Speaking of which, the Hero Gauge serves a dual purpose in combat. As long as you have at least one full Bezel in the gauge, losing all your HP will not kill you. When you run out however, you enter Critical Condition, where your characters are half as effective in combat and losing all your HP results in a game over. Secondly are Hero Actions, which use one Bezel from the gauge in exchange for an invincible super attack that can span the battle area. The Hero Gauge is restored by eliminating the HP of an enemy, or the gauge of one of its parts. Worth remembering is the ability to break HP gauges into smaller segments, thus making it much easier to regenerate Bezels. All in all, the strategic balancing act involved in the battle system makes it a highly enjoyable affair.

Characters are able to equip three different kinds of weapons: hand guns (which do Direct Damage and break HP gauges), machine guns (which only do Scratch Damage), and grenades (like handguns, only better). A character’s level is based on the average of their experience with these three weapon types. Focusing exclusively on one weapon is thus not recommended, as leveling goes much slower the more uneven your weapon proficiency is. The ability to customize these weapons with various parts is also included. These parts affect various aspects of a weapon, such as charge speed and magazine size. Obtaining them is sometimes as easy as buying them in a store, although the more beneficial parts require visits to the tinkerer, who creates items from spare parts you pick up from dead enemies or from scrapping other items.

These are not Leanne's natural eye and hair colors.
These are not Leanne’s natural eye and hair colors.

Similar to Radiata Stories, Resonance of Fate follows a mission based system, with both the main plotline and side quests being given as missions for the main characters to complete from people all across Basel. Basel itself is laid out over grids spanning many floors. To progress through the game, one uses an item called an Energy Hex to clear these grids for travel. Opening grids has the bonus of occasionally gifting the player with items, including Bezel shards for the Hero Gauge, clothing, and ammo. Being a tri-Ace title, Resonance of Fate naturally has post-game content, although it is limited to just one fairly short dungeon.

Graphically, Resonance of Fate delivers. Making good use of a more realistic style (although still anime influenced) than their previous efforts, the graphics wonderfully depict the tower of Basel. Gears are an ever present sight even in towns, and the further down the structure you go, the worse the living conditions. Particularly well done is the lowest city on the totem pole, a place literally built around a giant junk pile. Like in Star Ocean: The Last Hope, the lighting is especially impressive, to the point where dust motes are visible in sunbeams. One notable feature is the ability to change character outfits. A large variety of clothing is available, along with the option to change eye and hair color. Needless to say, anyone who’s as big a dork as I am will spend an inordinate amount of time playing with this mechanic.

As I noted in my previous review, one thing that will never change about tri-Ace is their inability to provide good interaction. To their credit, they have finally provided a pause button this time around, and it can be used during all cutscenes. To their discredit, the convoluted gameplay mechanics are introduced in a rush right at the beginning of the game, giving no time for the player to adjust. Also notable is a difficult storyline boss that limits you to one town and weak enemies, thus preventing decent leveling and item gathering. A battle retry option is available, but it costs money, which is fairly precious to begin with. In dungeons, you cannot access your menu at all, eliminating any chance of switching equipment on the fly.

Musically, this is Motoi Sakuraba at his best. His typical style that utilizes lots of synth instruments and electric guitar fits the setting of the game very well, with the exception of the synth organ, which thankfully is not used very much. Notable is the battle music changing whenever you go into Hero Mode. Voice acting is similarly top notch, with only one minor character turning in an average performance.

In the end, Resonance of Fate is your average tri-Ace game, with all the pros and cons therein. As such, your ability to enjoy this product will likely hinge on your enjoyment of the gameplay and humor contained within. If the devil is in the details, then the hit and miss story and bad interaction will turn you off. I once again belong to the former group.

Played to completion using a retail copy purchased by the reviewer.

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