Resonance can also be commended for its variety of intriguing puzzles. The game does a great job of keeping things fresh in most instances by giving you plenty of things to figure out, from a substitution cipher, to a computer hacking puzzle in which you need to get into a character’s emails to hack their passwords. Later, you’ll need to use a drafting compass on a map to find your way forward in the game, or snag an item from a locked case by using a magnet to drag it out. No two puzzles are the same in Resonance.
The game also has quite a bit of interesting dialog, and conversations are often puzzles unto themselves. Resonance uses a long-term and short-term memory system to allow players to direct conversations or learn about objects — you can just drag the icon of any clickable object in the world into a character’s “short-term memory,” and access it later in conversations or to analyze in your character’s mind. It’s an interesting system that basically lets players have anything in their inventory for the purposes of gaining more information about it, and while you can’t talk about every thing with every character, it does get you thinking about your environment in a way that’s more intuitive than many other adventure titles.
Where Resonance breaks down a bit is in managing all those inventory items, memories, and characters. Switching between characters is quick and easy, but in solving puzzles, it can get irritating. In the sequences in which players deal with all four characters, knowing just how to apply them, or who you need for what task, gets a bit oblique. It’s easy to send a character to the wrong location or move to solve a puzzle across town, realize you’re missing a certain character and a certain item, and have to switch around to send everyone together. The end result, put simply, is a lot of waiting and a lot of reorganizing of your characters, their inventories, who’s working with whom, and so on.
Luckily, that’s a quibbling irritation, and for the most part I never felt as though Resonance was stalled too heavily by my fumbling with characters to accomplish anything. For the most part, too, the puzzles remain challenging but also smart and clear. Adventure games can get frustrating when their puzzles become too esoteric, and Resonance definitely suffers from this genre-spanning issue — there are some puzzles that are just dense, or contain elements easily missed or that you’d never reasonably think of without random experimentation. But for the number of puzzles contained in the game, these are actually few and far between — most make sense, or can be reasoned through without finding yourself up against a brick wall for extended periods of time, trying to figure something out.
The best part of Resonance, though, is its story. It contains a few good twists; there’s one moment in particular I found fairly predictable as events were inevitably leading toward it, only to have the game still manage to defy expectation. If there’s trouble with the script, though, it’s that it contains moments where it seems to present you with a choice without really doing so. One point sees the biggest discussion of the game, its broadest idea with the biggest consequences, come down to a player choice — and then for matters of plot, Resonance robs you of that choice and what it would have meant for you to make it. The mystery is good, for the most part, but it does feel like Wadjet pulls the rug out both in that moment and later in the game. It’s an illusion of player choice that’s a little too thin to be effective.
But Resonance is certainly worth a playthrough. It’s smartly written and makes for a fun story, and there are a few moments that really do push the envelope, both in terms of adventure game stories and adventure game mechanics. Some puzzles were remarkably fun, some moments of character building and dialog were very compelling, and some elements of switching between characters and using them to their fullest felt great and very well-executed. There’s a lot to like in Resonance, especially for such a low price.
- Solid story
- Great characters
- Some really strong dialog
- Puzzle-solving is often intuitive but challenging and satisfying
- 16-bit art style gives the game a cool retro feel
- Memory system and four-character interaction feel novel
- Great price
- Some esoteric puzzles
- Story choices are actually predetermined for the sake of plot
- Four-character interaction can get a bit messy at points
- Often forced to waste time switching back and forth to do boring things like pass an item between characters