Review by Sartept
"I Just Couldn't Finish It."
I wasn't able to finish Resonance of Fate.
When I started this game I was amazed that a game for the xbox360 could have such outdated graphics. I usually don't even care about graphics, but they were just boring, gray and tepid enough for me to take note. Perhaps it was the style which speaks to a bland palette but I don't think it was just that, the faces just didn't look right, they were neither fully stylized nor realistic enough to look right. Out of everything though I felt like this is something that should have come out 7 years ago on the PS2 and it would have been great then. Now though, it never does more then ok.
The music and sound of the game was nothing to write home about either, some good music, some boring, all in all just mediocre enough for me to almost never really notice it. There is good combat music, but it got repetitive fast.
Those two things, two of the hallmarks of any good game, which were under supported by this game, I could have overlooked. Certainly I have played and enjoyed games with less then stellar graphics. And the music is fantastic when it works well with the game, when it pumps you up or brings you down as necessary, but it's really just wall-trimming to the actual gameplay, to the actual plot. They're both just additives to make you ooo and awe every once and a while.
Certainly then, it was the Plot and Gameplay that are the reasons that I could not complete this game.
First the plot, as I said I did not finish this game, I got to chapter 6, which from what I understand seems to be about a third of the way through the game. At this point in the game, there is no plot. There is no overarching story. The characters have not done anything except for running errands.
Plots should begin when the game begins, maybe you have a prologue to introduce the characters, describe them a little bit, give a back story to the world, and then start it up two or three hours in. That's fine, it can work very well. I had played the game for thirteen hours, and had no idea who the characters were, where they came from, why they were hunters or why I should care about them. I had no idea what the world was, it seemed to be a mechanical spire of some sort, this was never really explained. There appeared to be a government made up of completely clueless "Cardinals" that lived a life of luxury on the top of the spire while everyone else, subsisted in squalor on the lower levels. Were they property owners? Were they the government, were they religious leaders (as you would assume from the name Cardinal). I have no idea, I played this for thirteen hours and I've read a read-thru of the plot and it just barely makes any sense at all. There were occasionally cut scenes that showed me something interesting was happening, or had happened, but I had no idea who these things were happening to, or why, or what they had to do with the characters I was playing.
So the non-existent plot, I could work through that, I've played numbers of games that didn't have much of a plot. I can forgive that if the gameplay is worth playing.
The gameplay was interesting, I will give it that much.
First thing to know about combat, it uses guns, there are two types of gun damage. Scratch damage and direct damage. Scratch damage, is from Machine guns, you get a lot of it, but it doesn't actually do anything until someone hits them with direct damage as such, your machine gun, cannot kill anyone on its own. Let me say this again, as it bears repeating. YOUR MACHINE GUN CANNOT KILL ANYTHING ON ITS OWN. You can do 10,000 points of damage to a target with a machine gun, but until another character with a pistol fires a shot that deals 4 points damage at the same target, they don't fall down; even if they only had 10 hp. Machine guns will do hundreds of points of damage at a time, pistols will do dozens. This is an odd, but workable system. Interestingly enough, all enemies deal scratch damage to you. So your characters will not die when they take a full hp bar of damage.
So here's how combat works, a good way to start off is by saying your characters suck, or they rock, there is no middle ground. You can use a mechanic called "hero's charge" which is fueled by using "bezel shards." Your character runs where you tell them to, shooting at your opponent with either machine gun or pistol. You can usually get off 5 or so attacks this way in one turn. It does a good deal of damage, however you only get 3 of these shards to start off with, they only recover when you kill an enemy or crack one of his "shields" as such you can very easily find yourself in the situation where you run out of these shards (they are also consumed when one of your characters takes a full hp bar of damage as described above). When you run out of shards you're done, game over. Well that's not technically true, instead you enter "Critical Condition" where your characters turn into cowards that can't shoot, run, and when they get damaged they take "direct damage" instead of scratch and every time they're damaged they drop crystals, which your enemies can grab and heal themselves with. The only way to end this mode is by defeating them, or getting a bezel shard back; while they're healing more damage then you can dish out, good luck with that one. You're essentially dead at this point, but don't worry, you can start the combat over again for a small fee. Overlooking the fact that this makes no sense, as who am I giving this money to, how are they restarting combat, etc. Why this feature is included is because you are going to die, a lot. You get a Game Over screen when one character dies, and the NPCs are not dumb, they will gang up on the character with the lowest hit points. Now let's assume you do have enough bezel shards, which thankfully do regenerate after combat (as does any scratch hp lost). At this point you want to initiate any combat situation by using hero charges, and you want to spam them until you can't use any more, because your damage on regular attacks is around about 1/5th of charge damage, and (here's the best part) while you're charging your basic attack (necessary if you're more then 5 yards from your target) you can get interrupted by enemy fire or melee attacks. So you might not even GET your attack off. Here's an even better part, if your character is far enough away, they won't have enough time to charge their attack and their turn will end before the attack gets off, which means, once again you have a chance at not even getting an attack off. So as I said, you're obviously going to want to use Hero's Charges as much as possible, which when you do you're going to want to charge in between the other two characters, which the line between them (think of it like a goal line) when you cross it, you gain "Resonance" which will be discussed later. Now let's assume you can get your character to go through this goal, get resonance and do enough damage with their hero's charge to break a shield or actually kill the enemy, you can then keep using Hero's Charges and combat is fun, and your characters are ridiculously powerful, because while they're running, doing these charges they can't be damaged (Here's a funny side note, they can't be damaged, but if you're guarding something like an NPC for a dreaded escort quest it can be during the charges, hilarious). So if you keep doing these charges, you won't ever get hit/take damage. Now, as was referenced above, you can use Resonance to fuel triple attacks, which allows all three of your characters to attack an enemy (while running in a triangle made of the lines of the three points they occupied) the number of resonance charges you have indicates the number of times they hit a corner and keep going around the triangle instead of stopping. Meaning if you target something inside the triangle, it is very probably going to die. However if that triangle isn't anywhere near an enemy, it's useless (because range increases charge times of attacks as detailed above). As such, once again you have a lot of situations where you're either going to win handily (I killed the fifth boss in two character turns, it was god damn hilarious), or you might not even get a turn, and most of this seems to be based off of percentages.
If you just skipped through part or all of that last paragraph, there's a good reason, it's needlessly complicated, just like the gameplay. I didn't even describe all of the facets of combat, just some of the core principals.
The characters: I would love the describe them, unfortunately, I have almost no idea what they're like. They're a fairly friendly team of "hunters" (re: mercenaries), there are two guys and a girl. The girl acts like a girl, the boys act like boys, one's more of a kid, one's more of a badass. That's about it. There was honestly more characterization of the NPCs then there were of the main characters. One of the NPCs has gigantic boobs; this was given more discussion and just as much story time then any other character detail of any other character. You'd think that would be the main characters past, or the reason the girl seems to not fit in, or the kid and why he's there at all. Nope, gigantic boobs.
The overworld map is a grid where you have to defeat enemies to get puzzle pieces which allow you to transverse the grid, a very interesting cool idea, especially as placing these pieces enables you to find treasure occasionally and also serves as your way to reach new destinations. The fact that the characters are represented by an arrow on this screen however, is pathetic. What, they couldn't take the extra three days to draw up a character model to walk along the screen.
Leveling happens per weapon, there are three weapon skills that gain levels, pistols, machine guns, and grenades. All three of these add together to get your total character level. There is one major problems with this system, you only get one grenade box, so only one person can level their grenade level at a time, same thing with the machine gun. I'm not sure why all characters can't use grenades at the same time. There is also a first aid slot, and alternative ammo slot, but once again, only one character can use them at a time. So if you need every character to heal for a round, too bad, they can't.
The way you upgrade equipment is by finding/buying/crafting parts to outfit your guns with. So you add scopes, longer clips, grips, and more barrel to the end of the gun (not sure how this helps...). All of these increase your attack power essentially.
The dialogue isn't voiced, unless it's a cut scene. Perhaps I've been spoiled by recent games, but this is just a no-brainer here, perhaps they decided not to do them because most of what anyone says doesn't actually matter anyway.
There's a questing system, in fact that system IS the plot of the first six chapters at least. Kill X, get monies. Find wine I dropped, get monies. Go tell my grandpa hello, get monies. Fantastic. One quest had me looking for random drops from mannequin robots. It took me at least an hour to find all the drops, I did this because I am masochistic and have a bit of OCD. Next time I think about doing this I will hit myself in the head as hard as possible, or go start playing WOW again.
The game has a dress up option where you can collect new clothing to try on your characters. So if that's up your alley, I'm sure this is a treat, if not, well it can be safely ignored at least.
The voice acting is good though, so that's another plus.
This game has some odd humor to it. Usually I like odd humor but this never stuck with me other than giving me a quick chuckle now and then. I think this would be very entertaining to those that really enjoy Japanese humor.
All in all, there are some very good reasons I stopped playing this game about a third of the way through. That being said, I honestly think that there are those who should rent this game. This was obviously not a game for me personally, but I will be as objective here as I possibly can be and say that there are those who will really enjoy this game, especially if you're hungering for a new, complex battle system. However, if you're looking for a tried and true RPG, this is probably not even worth renting.
Reviewer's Rating: 2.5 - Playable
Originally Posted: 02/09/11
Game Release: Resonance of Fate (US, 03/16/10)
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