Resonance hails back to the point and click genre, the forgotten elderly relative of PC gaming. It’s a sci-fi adventure in a modern day setting, with four genuinely interesting characters and a pretty good story to boot. It’s something very different, and to be honest I wasn’t sure what to think of that initially. The last point and click game I played was Broken Sword, and by this time it wasn’t even point and click anymore. Which made me ask: Is the genre dead? To me, games like Heavy Rain seem like a natural evolution, and until now I didn’t think there was reason to go back.
Of course, now in the age of High Definition 1080p PC and console games, Resonance is a real surprise. It pretty much hits you in the face with its graphical style, particularly on a HD monitor like mine. It’s a shock, seeing it at 640×480 resolution! It’s text is heavily pixelated, as are its characters and environments. At first the art style seemed ridiculous, but it grew on me and I actually came to quite like it. For a game that’s attempting to dust off the point and click genre, it seemed to make sense. The art style is clearly outdated, but it’s also fun. It’s colourful and vibrant. Even if you’re not a fan of the artistic style, the visuals in no way detract from the gameplay. That said, there was one case of me trying to find a key, which turned out to be a gold pixel in the corner I hadn’t noticed. Fortunately though, the problem did not repeat itself.
The gameplay itself is relatively simple: right clicking will examine an object and left clicking will use or activate an item. You have an inventory system that is easily accessible by clicking the HUD in the top left. Where the game gets clever is that it allows you to drag and drop items into your memory for safe keeping, which is handy when you want to talk about it with another character. You can simply drag the item from your memory onto them and if it’s relevant it’ll open up whole new conversations and options. Its use might be as simple as clicking a clock and dragging it onto the secretary so she knows her shift is up, or remembering a letter dropped by another character and then talking to the others about it. Others being the four characters you can play as.
At first you get a glimpse of their average lives, seemingly isolated from each other, but soon they are all suddenly brought together by events in a realistic way. You can easily switch between characters much like you do in the inventory system. This is done by simply selecting which one you want from the top left HUD. By changing characters you can open up new conversation options. For example, playing as Detective Bennet gives you access to the police station and police resources, while the Hospital will be open if you play as Anna the Doctor. Each character has significant personality traits which affect gameplay. For example, the shy Mathematician Ed is going to talk to people differently than the headstrong journalist Ray. Who you use is generally up to you, however certain characters will sometimes be the only option for the task.
All these tools are at your disposal to solve the game’s numerous puzzles and advance the story. The puzzles themselves can at times be very obvious and other times very difficult, bordering on frustrating. The puzzles are very story specific so I cannot say too much in detail, however I will say that some puzzles are very tedious and I wonder why they couldn’t have been forgone altogether. Crawling around vents as a traumatized little girl was a very strange choice for just a flashback or two. This bit in particular has you wandering around a complete maze, having to click frantically to move a mere inch and being very confused the whole time. That was pretty much Resonance at its worst. Fortunately it eventually gives you the option to skip the cruel maze of tedium and finger ache.
Where Resonance really gets things right is the story. It is well written, brilliantly balanced light humour, love and a deep seeded scientific conspiracy theory. Each character is well thought out and a true three-dimensional individual brought to life by good voice acting and interesting scenarios. I really don’t want to spoil too much of the story so I won’t say much more. All I will say is that it is worth the odd bits of tedium and confusion to see it out to the end. Resonance may not bring back point and click games as a full blown genre, but what it does is create a fairly unique, fresh and well presented experience for anyone who likes a good thriller and genuinely interesting characters. If you’re intrigued, I recommend that you first evaluate how much patience you have and how much you like puzzles, as these are key factors to the Resonance experience.
Resonance is not for everyone, but for those that enjoy a good story and have patience, I gladly recommend it!