|System: X360, PS3||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Tri-Ace||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: SEGA||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: March 17, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
The game breaks the health of both enemies and your characters into what's called scratch damage and direct damage. Guns are the tools of the day, with machine guns inflicting scratch damage, while handguns and projectile weapons get right down to the heart of the matter. The real strategy comes into play when negotiating how to best weaken an enemy's scratch gauge, which will then allow you to finish them off with weapons that do direct damage. Sending an enemy airborne offers both the opportunity to set up bonus attacks, as well as perform Smackdowns - a fancy flying assault from above that looks cool and does mad amounts of hurt. Successfully weaving your characters between one another with Hero Actions sets your team up to perform Tri Attacks, which also play an integral role in your success on the battlefield.
The combat is addictive, it's rewarding, and it looks fantastic. That being said, the dungeons are bland and repetitive, and the overworld - though interesting in concept - is boring and tedious to navigate. You'll be required to use energy hexes in order to clear the way for navigation through the game world, and as an extra element of strategy, it's a pretty neat feature. Until you've cleared an entire level, however, the process of moving around Basel feels lifeless and disconnected. Lastly, Resonance of Fate is hard - brutally hard at times. Bezels aren't earned through leveling up - they're found or dropped by bosses - and the risk-reward factor can be maddening at times. Those up to the challenge, though, will find ample satisfaction underneath its rugged exterior.
On the production front, the game has some highs and some lows. The architecture when roaming around town is beautiful, with detailed cobble and brick etched into an elegant steam-punk aesthetic. The character models are uniquely tri-Ace, which is to say they have a doll-like beauty, but the PS3 version of the game has the unfortunate side effect of rendering terrible-looking shadows. Again, the dungeons and overworld are uninteresting to look at, with seemingly little effort put into either element of the game's design. We never had issues with the framerate, however, and battles are exhilarating and flamboyant - an eye candy you'll want to continuously eat up.
These days almost no big production is complete without the vocal stylings of Nolan North (Uncharted), and Scott Menville (Tales of Symphonia) also lends his acting talents to the cast. The delivery by the actors is fun and believable, though the lines they're working with are absolute fodder. On the other hand, the musical score and sound effects are out of this world. The orchestrations are a bit Disney at times and don't always match up well with wandering around Basel, but they're performed and presented beautifully. Likewise, the sound effects during combat are a total feast for the senses, injecting tons of visceral crunch into the action.
Resonance of Fate is, in many ways, an absolutely incredible feat. It's my hope that developers copy this battle system wholesale and tri-Ace further explores the many avenues presented here. It is unfortunate, however, that the rest of the experience is so utterly ho-hum. The story is bearable, if not completely forgettable; the world itself isn't that interesting, and though the combat shines like a radiant jewel, you won't be doing much else during the adventure. Resonance of Fate has greatness in it, but there's still much work to be done.
CCC Freelance Writer