Ambition can mean a lot for an indie game. The size of the bite a game tries to take, and how brave it is in its struggle to chew it, can help make a mediocre game something great, or what otherwise would be a bad game commendable. Point-and-click adventure title Resonance is neither mediocre nor bad, but somewhere above both, and though it has its flaws, they’re outweighed by the many places the game attempts to go, and the many others it succeeds in reaching.
There’s a lot about Resonance that I really liked, above and beyond its roots as an adventure title. Sure, it’s a game where primarily what you’re doing is pointing your mouse at things and clicking them to enter puzzles, but Resonance brings with it a well-written, complex script, some fairly brilliant puzzle sequences, and a few elements that differentiate it from other adventure titles, and all those things make it very compelling and stand out from the growing crowd of indie adventure games. Plus, it’s very cheap — only $10 — and that means it’s a hard game to pass by.
Resonance (2012): PC
Developer: Wadjet Eye Games
Publisher: Wadjet Eye Games
Released: June 19, 2012
Resonance is a game that actually features four main characters, though none really shines through as a primary protagonist. The benefit is that as you play through the story, you’re actually dealing with four characters more intimately than you might in other games. The sci-fi, near future mystery focuses on the discovery of a potential atomic energy source called Resonance, a power that could provide limitless clean energy for humanity, or be leveraged as a weapon so powerful, the entire planet could be at risk. The game more or less begins with Resonance’s creator believing he is being pursued and his work threatened, but by whom, he doesn’t know. Before long, events are set in motion that have his research assistant, his niece, a cop and a journalist searching for answers and working to expose a conspiracy.
The script in Resonance is, in many ways, its most notable achievement. The game introduces a great deal of elements and disparate threads, focusing on the experiences of all four characters, and deftly weaves them together over time. It’s a struggle to perceive plot holes as you play Resonance, because if ever you’re wondering what’s going on with an element, chances are you just haven’t waited long enough. Wadjet Eye also inserts quite a bit of great side content into the game that’s accessible everywhere, giving a real sense of character and life to the world. And the main characters are round and well-drawn in most respects — in all, it’s a pretty solid science fiction tale, especially for a video game, and an indie title at that.
The four-character dynamic builds through the course of the game to eventually provide players with a group of mixed capabilities, strengths and weaknesses, and toward the middle of Resonance you’re let loose to use those characters as you see fit to solve a series of interconnected puzzles. You need information from the city archives, where you might send your cop. The doctor can get access to the hospital, along with the drugs and morgue found within. The research nerd may well be able to decode hidden messages from his scientist boss; the silver-tongued reporter could potentially talk his way past guards. It’s an interesting system that requires you to pay attention to the people you’re dealing with in the story and analyze how best to use your characters.