grumbel's Resonance (PC) review

Starts good, but completely derails 2/3 into the game

[Some mild spoilers might follow]

Resonance is a point&click adventure released by Wadjet Eye in 2012. The story follows four characters and their connections with a new powerful new scientific discovery that might be very dangerous in the wrong hands.

Like most Wadjet Eye games the graphics suffer a bit from their old-school 320x240 resolution, but looks otherwise quite polished. The game is also voiced and the voice work is solid. The game however limits itself to only voice actual dialog and presents the inner monologue of characters as plain text, which I am not a big fan of, but one gets used to it.

Interface wise the game uses for most part regular point&click controls (left click 'walk/use/pickup', right click 'look'), but instead of just an inventory the player gets two more lists, one for short term and one for long term memory. The long term memory automatically records major events in the game and can be used to review past hints or be used as an option in dialog. Short term memory on the other side has to be manually filled by drag&dropping items into it. Items in the short term memory can then be used in dialogues

While those two interface additions sound interesting on paper, I didn't found them all that special in practice. For most part they simply make it a little harder to find out what you can say in dialog and it's easy to forget putting an item into memory, which might require some backtracking before it can be used in a dialog scene. Not exactly a show stopper problem, but it slows the game down a bit.

Aside from the regular adventuring the game also features a few time based sequence. When dying in those sequences, the game will automatically rewind to an earlier point and let one retry the situation. But from my experience the time limits were always extremely short and didn't allow much experimentation, which meant dying in those sequences at least a handful of times was pretty normal and a little annoying as it meant replying a short section each time. The game also features a nightmare labyrinth section that is rather dreadful to play through.

Another problem is that some of the puzzle sequences in the game require an elaborate setup to work, you have to put all your characters into specific spots to give you access to a puzzle. And with up to four characters getting everybody into place simply takes way to long, especially when one has to do it multiple times before figuring out the actual puzzle.

All the problems mentioned so far are however rather minor in practice and would have been easier to forgive if it wouldn't have been for a twist in the third act of the story. Everything starts out quite interesting, the scientific discovery is presented in an interesting way and the backstory of all the characters is interesting enough, except for the mentioned nightmare sequences which can drag on for a little to long. So far so good, the first two acts of the game are quite good and you kind of expect the game to open up after that, but then the game throws a rather huge twist at you out of nowhere and essentially collapses onto itself. A twist by itself wouldn't be so bad if it at least would be justified by what follows it, but that's not really the case here. The twist completely counteracts most of the stuff you have done in the first two acts and the new stuff it introduces is never properly expanded up on. It feels like you are running some annoying side show far away from where the real action happens and instead of actually going to new places or meeting new people you kind of just walk in place. It doesn't help that some of the stuff you do in the third act doesn't even make logical sense, namely the game forces you to track down two locations via some puzzles that you could already trivially derive from other information that you already have. The twist also undermines the players agency in a huge way and throws in some 'unreliable narrator' nonsense, even so there isn't even a narrator to begin with.

Overall this is a rather disappointing game. It started out really good, had a few slow moments, but the plot felt quite promising, but after that twists it's just all goes down the toilet. You never get to track the main antagonists and stuff that should have been really important in the plot never becomes more then a thing in the background that you are never allowed to play with. I am really not sure what happened with the plot, the way the start was written just doesn't fit with the way the game ends. It's like the dog ate the second half of the game or they wanted to pull a M. Night Shyamalan or whatever. Either way, it left a really bitter taste in my mouth. Another promising plot ruined by pointless twisting.

The game is approximately 10 hours long.

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