The other novel thing about Resonance is its memory mechanic. Unlike most adventure games that feature one inventory, Resonance has three for each character: the traditional bottomless item repository, the character’s long-term memory, and the character’s short-term memory. Long-term memories generally get added to your list as the plot progresses, and may serve as puzzle solutions much like how regular inventory items behave. They also provide flashbacks to key moments that happened previously that contain clues or further insights. Short-term memories are similar, but are distinct from long-term memories in that they are added manually by the player to a finite short-term memory list. This allows the player to bring up objects and scenery in the game world as conversation topics and puzzle solutions as well. Short-term memory is clever, but criminally underused in the game.
Graphically, Resonance is also a strange beast. I see no advantage in the retro-pixel look for this game. If it had been done in a similar 2D manner but with the higher resolution of I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream or Curse of Monkey Island, for example, I feel that the game would have lost nothing in the way of presentation. The game even utilizes some fancy color-changing and depth-of-field blurring effects in some scenes, so the retro effect is actually ruined anyway. The low-resolution graphics are workable and convey enough personality, but this is a bit of a missed opportunity to connect with a larger and more graphics-conscious audience. The one exception to my disappointment is the care given to the main character sprites, which are distinct and expressive in color, design, and animation. Still, the choice to go low-res is a shame because the rest of the presentation is exemplary indeed.
The music is fittingly atmospheric and dreary, falling in step with the escalating dread in the mood of the story. The voice acting is also very good. I wouldn’t say any of it is particularly notable when it comes to conveying strong emotions, but the actors deliver their lines convincingly, and there are no wooden performances in the lot.
There’s a lot more I’d like to say concerning Resonance, but the bottom line is that it’s really not for everyone, painful it may be for me to say so. Resonance is a game for people who like science fiction, mysteries, disaster stories, and big surprises. Resonance is not a game for people who are looking for meaningful dialogue, challenging puzzles, or particularly deep characters. Despite its problems, Resonance’s pros greatly outweigh its cons, and anyone who appreciates a good story will find it an excellent way to spend several sittings of adventure gaming. Resonance is a unique and lovingly-crafted game that’s worth the ten-dollar admission price. Don’t go in expecting a character-driven drama or a world-spanning epic, and you’ll see it for the good game that it is.
Resonance is available for digital download at GOG.com for USD 9.99.