A modern point-and-click adventure game is no longer a rare treat. While the market is by no means oversaturated, there is a steady stream of quality adventure games for all of us fans who clamored for their triumphant return in between Grim Fandango and Sam and Max Save the World. Wadjet Eye Games has been one of the fine purveyors of adventure games and their latest title, Resonance, wants to tickle the conspiracy and science parts of your brain.
Resonance is all about the rate at which certain subatomic particles resonate, the scientific ramifications and murder. At the start, you will choose between one of four characters to play through their individual stories: Ed, a mathematician working on resonance: Anna, a doctor tied to the events transpiring; Ray, a journalist investigating a shady organization; and Bennet, a detective working the case (voiced by Logan Cunningham, the narrator from Bastion). As you play each one, they move closer together until you eventually have the ability to move everyone at once.
As with almost any adventure game, the plot is essential, and Resonance does not disappoint on any level. I was enthralled as I investigated a murder, gradually figured out exactly what was transpiring and how every piece fit into place. I was genuinely surprised at a few of the turns the plot took, and while there was a cheap red herring in the middle, it managed to pay off in an interesting way. As much as I love adventure games, there aren’t many that have the tone and maturity as Resonance.
The biggest pitfall of any adventure game is the puzzles: just hearing someone describe the infamous disguise puzzle from Gabriel Knight 3 (constructing a fake moustache by scaring a cat through a small opening, then taking the hair and maple syrup-ing it to your face) is enough to keep many people away from the genre all together, Resonance has its share of difficult puzzles, but every single one is able to be solved with the tools you have or are provided to you in the environment. All they take is some logical thinking and careful implementation.
Resonance is a beautiful pixel art game that is a love letter to the genre, but not everything done to make it a modern game works in its favor. Your inventory is divided into three sections. There’s the physical inventory that holds the items one character is carrying. Your long-term memory that has plot relevant information and is shared by everyone. It helps with puzzles and reminds you of your goals. Your short-term memory is filled when you click on items or people in the environment and drag their picture into it. It’s a way to discuss these topics with other characters.
Managing your inventory between four characters is more often than not a frustrating task. There are a few puzzles that require you to sneak into locations and there’s nothing more frustrating than working through the steps only to get to the end and realize that a different character has what you need to finish the puzzle. There also isn’t a simple group button that would allow me to move everyone as one. Instead, I have to talk to every other character with the one I’m controlling and ask them to follow me.
The short-term memory is intuitive, but I find that it usually led to me knowing what I needed to do, only to forget that I had to pull an item into my memory and then talk to someone about it, instead of just having relevant dialog already unlocked. Every time I got stuck at a puzzle because of this, it was completely my fault. I knew that this was a mechanic frequently used throughout the game, it just seemed to be less in service of the player and more for the mechanic.
Resonance is an absolutely wonderful addition to the genre and fits nicely into the mature and dark corner, right alongside Yesterday and The Walking Dead. It took Vince Twelve five years to make Resonance, let’s hope his next project gets to grace our monitors much sooner.