Resonance – Review

Platform | Release Date
PC | June 19, 2012
Developed by XII Games
Published by Wadjet Eye Games

The Pitch:

When a brilliant particle physicist dies unexpectedly, the race is on to secure his terrible new technology before it falls into the wrong hands. The lives of four playable characters become entangled as they fight against the clock to find the dead scientist’s secret vault.The suspicions they harbor, the memories they guard, the connections they share – all will converge as these four ordinary people work together to prevent a potentially cataclysmic disaster.

Resonance is a word filled with nuance. From a literal standpoint, it calls to mind a deep booming bass that fills the air of an opera house. In physics, it can refer to the switch between different modes of energy, like the oscillation of a pendulum between kinetic and potential. Figuratively, we use the word to refer to events or works that evoke memories of times long past. A song, film, or story can resonate with us as we allow it to fill our mind, shaping its meaning with our personal life experiences.

A fitting title, as XII Games’ newest work, Resonance, trades on all of these nuanced meanings. The story follows four playable characters in the aftermath of a scientist’s grisly murder. Uncle to one character, mentor to another, physicist Dr. Morales had discovered a new subatomic particle, and the technology to contain it. Oscillating between two dimensions, these particles can be split and contained within “resonance chambers”. Releasing the particles snaps them back to center, dispersing energy when they meet. The further away from center the particles are, the bigger the bang, which peaks the interest of shadowy organizations who wish to weaponize the technology.

Swappable at will, each of the four characters comes with their own inventory, memories, and in-game experiences. This harkens back to Maniac Mansion, with several puzzles dependant on using the right character, or sometimes the right combination thereof. The memory mechanic adds considerable depth to the puzzles, and it’s something I’ve never seen in a point-and-click adventure. Game events fill out your long-term memory while objects and people in the environment fill your short-term memory. These lists form a dropdown at the top of your screen, right next to your inventory. Hover, and you can rewatch prior events looking for clues, or take a closer look at items you hold. Any of these can, and often must, be used during conversations, expanding dialogue options to an astounding degree.

Expansive dialogue could be a knock against traditional point-and-clicks. It takes a certain type of gamer to truly appreciate walls of text, and a certain caliber of writer to make it worthwhile. Thankfully, Resonance is not only fully voiced, but done so expertly. The main cast features many of the voices from WadJet Eye Games’ own stunning adventure Blackwell Deception, and is rounded out soundly by Logan Cunningham, narrator of Bastion. Well-written and well-voiced, Resonance is a treat to listen to as it wraps you in quickly and never lets go.

As the layers of Resonance unravel, the four disparate back stories weave and intertwine to tell a singular tale of deception, power, and the intrinsic value of truth. Seemingly minor details from early in the game are given new meaning as the conclusion draws near, which makes you feel a subtext was there the whole time if you were attentive enough to have seen it. The climax is nothing short of astonishing; Vince Twelve proves to be a genius at telling a story in this medium. Resonance is the pinnacle of modern point-and-click adventures, and a resounding success in every way.

About Adam Bash

Adam Bash was the host of the Fall Damage podcast and is currently a contributor to Splitkick. He helps make the site do things.
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