Resonance of Fate (aka End of Eternity in Japan) is a Japanese RPG developed by Tri-Ace and published by Sega. It’s a game that has gone so far under the radar that you may need to gain some scuba diving gear to discover its excellence. Being released so close to Final Fantasy XIII, many gamers may not have been anticipating this game so much. With that being said I would advise all fans of JRPG’s to give this game a test drive, as I am sure you will not be disappointed. Though if you are looking for an RPG experience that you can happily plough your way through without much thought, then I advise you to steer clear. Resonance of Fate is definitely not a walk in the park, and that alone sets it aside from any JRPG emerging on the shelves thus far in 2010.
As you take your first steps in Resonance of Fate with Vashyron the leader of your party (of three characters), you will notice you are stepping into a very unorthodox setting. You will find yourself in the lower class section of Basel, which is a settlement built around a very significant tower (Basel) which stretches high above the ground. The purpose of this tower is to purify the world which began to deteriorate due to the abuse of the Earth’s climate. The Basel tower became a savior to humanity as its burst of purity over the planet allowed people to carry on with their lives without worrying about the state of the climate. However, it does come at a cost, as the tower allowed for monsters to spawn which attack the colony below repeatedly. Eventually the tower itself begins to malfunction, sending humanity into panic once again.
You begin the story controlling a party of three characters, Vashyron, Zephyr and Leanne. The story takes a while before it begins to pick up and engage the player further into the quest ahead. You will begin by completing tasks for the towns folk that may seem pointless at the very least, but they build up to a point where the story begins to really take off. A variety of flashbacks are used to tell the tale, which may be confusing at first but they help to piece together the main focus. While the whole experience may seem a tad depressing from the get go, I ensure you that there are many light hearted moments to keep the enthusiasm going. One thing that is significant about the initial drag into the story development is that there is enough time for the character development to play out, which in effect should make you care for and understand the characters. You may even become thankful towards the lengthy kick start into the story, as Resonance of Fate has a very steep learning curve, due mainly to a highly complex battle system.
If you linger long enough into the start menu, you will find a manual which covers every aspect of the battle system. There is also an arena in which you can practice a variety of the techniques needed to gain you an advantage in your battles. Going through all these tutorials can be very lengthy, which will leave you wanting to forget the tutorials and jump into the real action. Resonance of Fate does not make this easy however; this is a game that will not hold your hand. From the very first battle, to the concluding battle of the game, you face great difficulty. It is a challenge that truly makes you want to step your game up and learn new skills. Learning is definitely a key word associated with this game, as you will come to figure out new ways of taking down your enemies that you may have never even practiced in the tutorials. The battle system is a very dynamic platform, and to yield the best results you must figure out the best ways to use your characters together to extinguish the threats ahead.
There are no magic tricks or summons in Resonance of Fate. It’s all about gun smoke and grenades. The key to winning is strategic planning; you have no choice but to carefully position your characters in an attempt to outmaneuver your enemies. The combat is turn based, however that does not entirely mean that you have to attack every time it is a specific characters turn to act. You might for example opt to position them in a well thought out position, so that you can strategically plan an offense using all three of the characters in your party. These are known as Hero moves, in which you can position a character to dash in a straight line, whilst a slow motion effect allows you to gun down your enemy in style (all within the dash). If you figure out how to master Hero moves, you will eventually be able to combine all your characters into one big Hero maneuver. Hero moves are the most effective way to pick off your enemies, however don’t expect Tri-Ace to make your life that easy. If you perform too many Hero moves in one battle, you will go into a state of panic, which puts your party at huge risk and almost always ensures your death.
It’s all very complex stuff, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed at first. Truth of the matter is that Resonance of Fate requires you to be a very patient gamer to get the most out of it. Those who wish to explore further and partake in optional battles and quests will reap the rewards of finding new equipment, upgrades and energy hexes. The world map is built like a board game, you can view the entire map from the beginning of the game. However, there are many areas that you are unable to reach until you place a path of energy hexes that will restore power to certain areas, allowing your party entry.
The thing that sets Resonance of Fate aside from competing JRPG’s is the level of detail put into the setting of the tale. Resonance of Fate pulls off the feeling of a world going into environmental decline, areas look dark and torn down. Eventually after being in one setting for too long, you may subconsciously begin to get tired of it. Therefore it comes as a blessing that you can bring out your own personal touch by changing your characters appearances by fitting them with new garments. This is a level of customization not often seen in JRPG’s so it’s a very welcomed feature.
Resonance of Fate is a game for the hardcore JRPG fans, there is no doubt about that. Tri-Ace knew who their target audience would be when developing the game and thus did not opt to make it simple for casual consumers. For those who were perhaps put off by the simplicity in Square Enix’s Final Fantasy XIII, I urge you to give this game a go to make up for it. Resonance of Fate shows that vintage JRPG’s are not at a loss, it’s just that the consumer base has expanded, bringing about a need to simplify all gaming experiences. For those who chose to dedicate their time to Resonance of Fate you are in for a thrilling 60 plus hour ride, which concludes with you feeling like it may be one of the best JRPG’s you have played this generation.