Grinding away like the gears of Basel.
Ever since Final Fantasy VII, which revolutionized the JRPG, developers and gamers alike have been searching for the next revolution in role-playing games. On the back of Resonance of Fate's box, there's a tagline. Can you guess what it says? "RPG IS REDEFINED." Not like you haven't seen that before...
[image1]Resonance of Fate is a game by Tri-Ace, the minds behind RPGs like Star Ocean: The Last Hope. The story revolves around this giant machine, Basel, that is supposed to clean the atmosphere after humanity has polluted it beyond habitability. How contemporary! Humanity has gone underground and built civilization's last stand on this giant machine. Of course, Basel starts to malfunction, and the remainder of human life is threatened. Does this contrived plot redefine the RPG genre in this sense? No.
I've long been fond of role-playing games and Japanese developers, but Resonance of Fate reeks of the ways that JRPGs have driven themselves into the ground. The first is bland and predictable character design. Resonance of Fate's lead characters are an amalgam of all the other stereotypical roles you've played for the past 10 years. There's the cocksure leading man, mouthy and driven by money. There's the little kid who should be home studying for school, but is instead the up and coming battle master. Finally, there's the girl, or something to look at while wandering the world map.
Combat is based around firearms, which apparently leads to "Gorgeous Cinematics" and "Blazing Gun Battles" (more choice clippings from the back of the box). In Resonance of Fate, "cinematic battles" boil down to how much your character can move while attacking and how many different times they flip around before pulling the trigger. But that's bullshit, right?
While you're running around the battlefield, forming a nice little triangle between your three party members, you'll gather "Resonance Points". These can be used to initiate tri-attacks. These are exciting, admittedly cool sequences where you tear shit through your enemies. Unfortunately, there are a ton of ambiguous rules to wrestle with.
[image2]The biggest problem is that if you don't break an enemy shield or kill an enemy outright, you lose an action point. At the beginning of the game you only have three action points and your attacks don't do too much damage. This makes for a lot of pathetic running around and flailing your arms about. No, seriously, "Critical Condition" literally has your party members running straight to the over-powered enemy. Not knowing the exact intricacies of battle is going to cause action points to disappear fast, never to return.
I wasn't even playing a story quest when I ran into the first of many virtual brick walls. Three large monsters appeared and proceeded to break my party into meaty chunks. I spent a good two hours trying to finish the battle, coming up short every time. I couldn't use an escape item to leave the battle prematurely, because that meant losing 3 hours of play that I hadn't saved yet. Still, I couldn't take out the armor-clad baddies no matter how many ways I tried.
Grinding can work in some ways. Often it's all that work that makes the successes in RPGs so satisfying, but Resonance of Fate's grinding is broken. It's unsatisfying because of how early it sets in, preventing you from even learning the intricacies of battle, and frustrating because of how frequently you need to grind.
[image3]There is one thing to compliment about Resonance of Fate, though, and that's the hexagonal Tetris meta-game that makes up the overworld. To venture further in the world map, you'll have to pick up hex pieces that restore power to the various levels and branches of the map to access them. Completing a level of the map with hex pieces is satisfying in its puzzle-like nature, but that's mostly because of how dull the rest of the game is.
You'd have to be the hardest of the hardcore to play Resonance of Fate through to the end (or an intern at Game Revolution). It is violently unruly and complex in its battle systems and structure. I'm sure there are plenty of masochists out there in the RPG community, but Resonance of Fate exudes punishment in spades. Don't let it rick you into letting go of $60!