The first hour of Resonance Of Fate feels very much like watching an out-of-sequence collection of scenes from a David Lynch film. Don’t worry, it isn’t that you’re going to be confronted by any weird sexualised imagery or dancing midgets, it’s more that the experience is so downright bewildering and unfamiliar that you’re very likely to feel similarly disorientated. The (absolutely beautiful) cutscenes initially don’t appear to make a lick of sense, and the battle system is thrust upon you before you’re given proper access to a tutorial. Resonance Of Fate doesn’t ever entertain the idea of pandering to its audience. It hits the ground sprinting, and you’re fully expected to keep up with it. This is monumentally refreshing.
In line with this take-it-or-leave it attitude that the game has toward itself, the approach to storytelling is pretty unusual and also extremely effective. The plot is split up into several different chapters that are all essentially unrelated to each other. So with no labyrinthine plot to keep check of, players are free to tackle Resonance Of Fate at their own pace, and the game is so gigantic that it is vastly appealing to know that you are almost encouraged to take months, or (if need be) years, to complete it. The game will probably take you upwards of 40 hours play time to complete, and this is if you don’t partake in any of the numerous side missions that are constantly thrown at you.
The game’s world is bewitching and pretty extraordinary. Set several hundred years in the future during a time in which the surface of the earth is completely uninhabitable, the stories takes place in an unnamed underground city that has been built around a device called The Basel. This contraption is believed to be slowly purifying the earth’s surface, ridding it of the toxic gases that almost pushed the human race into complete extinction several decades previously. As the story begins that device begins to malfunction, and the madcap bunch of oddballs in your control are tasked with investigating.
The game’s map structure is also completely unique, with the world split into small hexagonal spaces that often contain multiple enemies, who you’ll have to defeat before you’re able to progress to the next area of land. And despite this extremely pleasant, board game-style map layout, and some surprisingly well-written diatribes aimed at the game-world’s makeshift class structure (the richer you are, the higher up in the city you live), the game’s real trump card is the fresh and frequently nerve-racking combat system.
It is a mixture of turn-based and real-time, and once you’ve properly gotten your head around it, it is difficult not to assume that innumerable subsequent RPGs are going to pilfer heavily from it. It allows you the same deliberation that a turn-based system would concede, whilst also giving you the knife-edge thrills of real-time. You’re never allowed to rest on your laurels either. If you manage to work out a system that appears to be bullet proof (and the early battles do lull you into a false confidence in your own abilities) the game then throws constant curve balls at you, keeping you on your feet and (superbly) forcing you to mix your tactics up for the entire duration of the game.
Much like SEGA’s own recent, spectacular Infinite Space, this is an RPG that is far more concerned with dipping its toes in fresh water, as opposed to routinely ticking tired genre boxes. As with Infinite Space you are going to have to allow yourself a little bit of time to truly find your feet, but once you’ve adapted to its idiosyncrasies and warmed to the bold changes that it makes to the well-worn RPG genre, you are very, very unlikely to regret it. This is a project as audacious and adventurous as the people within it, and it is surely destined to be regarded in years to come as significantly, and brilliantly, influential.
Watch the Resonance Of Fate trailer here…