Resonance of Fate Xbox 360 Review

August 17, 2011 by  
Filed under Xbox 360, Reviews & Features, Xbox

Publisher – SEGA – Developer – Tri-Ace – Genre – RPG – Players – 1 – Age Rating – 16+ – Other console/handheld formats – PS3

Tri-Ace is the developer behind Star Ocean and the Valkyrie Profile series’, and by now it’s obvious that the company isn’t afraid of trying to do new things with their battle systems and other mechanics, things that a lot of other teams simply wouldn’t dare to do.

Many have fallen out of love with the RPG genre as of late, citing lack of invention and clichéd narratives and characters, and even Final Fantasy XIII wasn’t above criticism. Tri-Ace’s newest offering Resonance of Fate however, with its balletic gunfights, might very well be daring enough to impress jaded genre devotes .

The narrative of Resonance of Fate isn’t a strength, though it’s sparse in comparison to a lot of other RPG’s. Even after playing the game through to completion, I have little idea of what the story was about. It’s nonsensical and seems as if it was dreamt up by some seriously confused individuals, and it really required dense exposition to explain its complexities better.

The characterization however makes the cutscenes well worth watching. It focuses on three well rounded, but initially somewhat enigmatic characters: Vashyron, Leanne and Zephyr, all of which have complex histories which are well worth exploring. They have strong chemistry too, whilst the often zany Japanese style humour never fails to entertain.

It’s set in a post apocalyptic world, where the only habitable area is the mysterious towering construct, Bazal. The tower is split into classes, with the higher denizens being the wealthier folk, whilst the more unfortunate live in the dustier lower regions. It’s quite a fascinating universe, and speaking to its people to learn more about it is a genuine joy.

What is sure to come as a delight to older RPG fans in particular is the addition of a world map, though it’s unlike any world map from before. It’s filled with hexes, many of which are locked to begin with. Unlocking them requires you to lay energy hexes, in an almost puzzle game like fashion, allowing you to gain access to new areas, or discover some hidden items. It’s a wonderful idea that is both enjoyable and rewarding.

The battle system is Tri-Ace at their most inventive. There are two damage types: direct damage is the regular type, whilst scratch damage cannot outright kill an opponent and will slowly heal over time, though direct damage incurred on an enemy with scratch damage, will see it converted into direct damage.

You possess Bezal shards, of which you can expend to use hero actions. During a hero action, a character is temporarily invulnerable and will run or jump, and whilst they’re doing this you can attack your opponents, sending the characters into fancy dives and pirouettes as they fire away with their guns or lob a grenade. By crossing between characters with a character you’ll earn a resonance point. With this you’re able to unleash a Tri-attack, a powerful manovoure, which sees the involvement of all three characters.

Bezal shards also act as a shield of sorts, too, and losing all shards will result in you entering a critical state where the characters will run around in madcap fashion and their accuracy is seriously diminished, whilst damage incurred is increased. Often when you enter this state, recovery is near impossible.

Bezal Shards can be regained by killing enemies, or shattering their health gauges and then proceeding to wipe out their health to a certain point. So deciding when to go all out and when to hold back adds a pleasing strategic edge to the combat system that is all too often missing from the genre.

Believe it or not, I’m still not quite finished. There’s the smackdown and bonus attacks still to cover. Smackdown attacks are executed by jumping up above an airborne enemy and attacking, sending the enemy smashing into the ground below and rewarding you with some lovely loot. Bonus shots sometimes kick in when you attack an airborne enemy from the ground and a timing based minigame is triggered when it does. Succeeding at this allows you to charge your attacks until the enemy hits the ground, allowing to go way over the level threshold and, at the same time, glorious loot will rain down, as if god is enjoying the show.

Levelling up is handled differently to many other RPG’s. There are three different weapon types: handguns, machineguns and grenades, and through the use of them characters will level them up, in turn becoming more proficient with them. The level of each different weapon type combined determines the overall level of a character, so to keep those levels ascending; you must take care to regularly switch around your equipment.

Weapons can be upgraded, of which can somewhat be puzzle like in its execution. The Guns can be moved around to find room to slot in certain parts. There’s an incredible level of depth, with many parts on offer and many possibilities to upgrade your guns to your liking.

Resonance of Fate doesn’t have a strong story and this will disappoint those that like a good, rich narrative in their RPG’s. Its mechanics however is where the true strength lies; being both compulsive and a breath of fresh air for a genre that few will be able to deny has been stagnating.

That you can dive around like Chow Yun-Fat, but after too much caffeine or something, is hard to ignore, too.