Tri-Ace's gun-wielding trio is back in a new remaster of a highly underrated RPG from last gen.
In Resonance of Fate, you control the unlikely triad of Vashyron, Zephyr, and Leanne as they go about their adventures in the mechanical vertical world of Basel. Despite difficult beginnings, Vashyron and Zephyr have paired up to take on odd jobs from the upper-class Cardinals who live in the higher regions of the tower. Leanne joins their group after Zephyr saves her life when she jumps off the tower after learning of her expected death on her 20th birthday. You see, everyone's fates are predefined in the world of Basel. The tower was erected to save humanity after the levels of pollution on Earth made it uninhabitable. Mankind resorted to building the tower and implemented a massive purification system called Zenith. As you take on jobs from the Cardinals, you discover more about the world and start to unravel who ultimately controls what.
It's quite a unique start to a story that had me interested from the get-go when I initially played it on PlayStation 3 and it's still just as enticing in this PS4 remaster. The three main characters definitely have depth and there's a lot of entertaining banter between them to ensure that there is always a light side to every challenge they face. However, there are plenty of strange characters as well who are difficult to find endearing and even the protagonists can act weird sometimes in the awkward way that only Japanese games seem to venture into. For example, one character you come across is a short fat guy with the weirdest hair and facial features and he wears a t-shirt that says "Love Me" on it. He dotes over Leanne in a very sleazy way and has a creepy voice to match. These types of characters may detract from the story unless you have the ability to just laugh them off.
The world of Basel is a vertical tower with elevators connecting its sections. As you fight enemies, you collect hexes that you place on the map in order to unlock areas. The hexes are shaped in ways that serve to unlock parts of the world only when you amass a collection of specific shapes. Also, some hexagons require specific colours of hexes to make them available. I quite enjoyed this system of unlocking different parts of the map as I looked forward to finding hexes of certain shapes and colours in order to completely clear an area and collect all of the uncovered items in the process.
Placing hexes on special hexagons can unlock towns and dungeons. Unfortunately, there are only a few towns in the whole game and all of them look pretty samey. The towns are small and contain a few shops and a guild. There are usually a few townsfolk scattered around that you need to talk to in order to initiate and complete side-quests. In the shops, you can purchase a variety of clothing to dress up your characters and even change things like their hair and eye colour. That's right; you don't have to stick to the blond hair, blue eye look from all the artwork. You can also purchase upgrades for your guns such as new handles, magazines, and sights then place them on the gun manually while swapping out old pieces. It's quite an intricate system, especially when you consider that there are multiple hand and machine guns to purchase and customize as well as special bullet types and grenades that attack enemy weaknesses.
The fact that the story takes place in one large mechanical tower means that you can't expect a ton of visual variety and the lack of interesting scenery also applies to the dungeons. Although the graphics are quite detailed for both the character models and the environments, they're generally stuck in brown and grey shades with one dungeon looking very much like the next.
Whenever you enter a dungeon, you initiate a battle that takes place in a fixed arena. Completing it (or escaping without dying) automatically puts you in the next arena until you eventually make your way through the chain of battles to the other side. Each arena is typically made of barriers, ramps, platforms, and explosives that you run between as you shoot at your enemies. Speaking of which, the enemy variety is disappointing with many of them merely looking and acting like slightly different variations.
In battle, you run around freely while the enemy does the same. If you have bezels available, you can have a character run on a predefined path while shooting at the enemy. Under the right conditions, you can also have all three characters run in a triangle and shoot at an enemy one after the other. The jump button allows you to leap which can send your character over barricades, enemies, and other obstacles in their path. Shooting while on the ground can launch an enemy and shooting them from above causes them to smash into the ground. As you get closer to an enemy, it takes less time to charge your weapon so you want to optimize for this if you can because the more charge revolutions you can get in, the more damage you do. Finally, there are two types of damage: scratch damage is best applied through machine guns and although it builds up fast, it's only effective when direct damage is applied after the fact.
The battle difficulty varies and the fights can require some good strategizing to survive, especially when it comes to bosses. Given the fact that you need to keep your bezels up and you consume one every time you perform a special move while only gaining them when you manage to break an enemy's defensive barrier or defeat them, fighting a boss who only has a couple lackeys can be a challenge as it's harder to build up your bezels. However, it's surmountable if you learn the battle system well and constantly think one or two steps ahead. Last but not least, if you find it to be too easy for some reason, there are a whopping 10 difficulty levels that can be unlocked.
Resonance of Fate is one of the most unique JRPGs out there complete with an interesting story and a fun battle system that poses just the right level of challenge. I highly recommend it for any RPG fan who's looking for something different.
- + Challenging and fun gun-based battle system
- + Unique weapon and party customization
- + Distinct story and characters
- - Difficulty may make it rough for players who are less invested
- - Scenery and enemies lack variety
- - Some characters can be unlikable