Resonance of Fate… Again

Right so I didn’t know what to write about today, so I thought I’l write a bit more about Resonance of Fate the game I’m playing at the moment. Well, what can I say, it’s a hardcore Japanese Role Playing Game (JRPG). It is not for newbies. You need to be familiar with the genre and be willing to sink hours of pure grind in order to level up and face the next quest. So I thought I would break it down bit by bit.

First, the story. So far it is still developing. We don’t really know what’s happening. The story is told through a series of videos that don’t seem quite that related to each other yet. Some are flash backs, some are about two high ranking men, who you don’t really interact with. Your characters’ stories are told slowly and intermittently. The world seems to make sense in itself, and your place in it as well as others is assumed rather than explained. While that might seem alienating, it kind of makes sense. You live on this tower/machine. The rich people live higher up, and the poorer lower down. You are hunters who do odd jobs for the populace as well as the leaders known as cardinals. It is a post apocalyptic world. The earth died and time itself doesn’t make sense anymore. Now time is regulated by that tower/machine you live on. It also seems to be a pre-apocalyptic world, as there seems to be some kind of catastrophe waiting to happen. All of this is suggested rather than explicitly told. This gives the narrative structure of the game a strong quality I find. There is an air of foreboding and as you go on living your life you discover more and more what is happening.

Second, the character: You are in control of a party of three hunters. A man, a boy (who the man rescued it seems), and a girl (who the boy rescued when she tried to commit suicide). Their back stories aren’t clear as they are told in a series of unconnected flash backs. Nothing makes you care for them, yet you somehow do. Again I think that this is due to the very strong way in which the story is told. As you progress you learn more about them and the more you learn the less clear everything seems. At least that’s how it is at the point I got to in the game.

Third, Game mechanics. Well the game progresses through a chapter structure. Each chapter involves a major mission that you need to complete. Each chapter also offers a set of side missions that you might choose to undertake by visiting the hunter’s guild and taking the jobs. If you do not finish the side quests that are assigned to this chapter before you choose to finish it then you fail them. This means that in theory one can go through the game without doing any side quests. I say in theory because in practice one would need to do them as the rewards, both in cash and experience are invaluable if one is to finish the game as combat is unforgiving.

Combat mechanics is very interesting. Unlike classic JRPGs which involve swordplay and magic, this game is set in a steam punk world where people use guns. So you have your guns and that’s pretty much it. Combat is a sort of hybrid between realtime and turn based combat systems. It is a bit hard to get used to. However, once you do it is quite rewarding and demands a great amount of strategy. The combat is also unforgiving as you die a lot. there are two types of weapons, those that do scratch damage, which is surface damage that doesn’t involve loss of health points, and those that do direct damage, which involves loss of health points. The idea is to rack up scratch damage and then transform is into direct damage. There are also a whole bunch of special actions including tri-attacks which are a sequence where all three members of the party attack at once.

The most striking thing about the game is how unashamedly hardcore it is. This is not a game that holds you by the hand and feeds you information with a spoon. It is not for casual players or people who are new to the genre. That is not to say that newcomers might not enjoy it, but they need to work hard at it. There are no easy short cuts. The player needs to go through the game quite meticulously and grind for a long time. the levelling up system is very interesting as a character levels up as their gun levels up. You can also customise your guns, in fact you have to otherwise you won’t be able to beat the harder enemies.

One example of how hardcore the game actually is, is the arena. Like almost all JRPGs the game includes an arena where the player can go and take part in fights that will earn him/her money, fame, and a few goodies. However, the arena has 50 levels and each level involves 10 fights. You can actually progress from level to level after beating a given level 3 times. However, if you are to master the arena you need to do 500 fights. That is a staggering number. Again this is completely optional, or at least it seems to be so far, but any RPGer worth their name would want to finish everything in the game.

All in all, I am enjoying it a lot. I think that the game works very well. It toys with the conventions of the genre, while sticking to the basics. The world is beautiful, imaginative, and well presented. The story is told very well. The characters are interesting and loveable, or at least likeable. Finally, the game mechanics are tied well to the story. I, so far at least, highly recommend the game.

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