Resonance of Fate 4K/HD Edition (Playstation 4 Review)
For me, JRPG often conjured up imagery of clashing swords, shields, and magic. Then Resonance of Fate appeared and totally turned the genre on its head. Back in 2010 tri-Ace brought guns and glory to the genre, putting Dante and his trusted pistols to shame, while mixing it with visions of a Steampunk Victorian era. So, can Resonance of Fate still wow its audience nearly 8 years later?
Vashyron, Zephyr, and Leanne are a bunch of young Hunters who make a living doing others’ dirty work throughout the highest and lowest tiers of Bazel, a mechanical Tower of Babel that stretches from the depths of humanity to the sky. Bazel is governed by an apathetic robot that determines the lifespan of all its inhabitants and our group of heroes set out to prove that life cannot be held to the whim of a machine throughout the generous 16 chapter campaign. Resonance of Fate perfectly paces the story, allowing time for the protagonists grow as characters and on us while embedding the themes of Bazel as a city oppressed. Even though the backstory is often resigned to the closing moments of chapters, it feels well placed and never interferes with the flow of action. Tri-ACE have also managed to squeeze in typical humour you’d expect from an anime without perverting the intent of the main campaign.
As funny as they may be, the humorous segments are but a distraction from exploring Bazel. Bazel’s overworld is a hexagonal grid system that players will unlock by placing corresponding pieces to complete paths. Some of these parts are locked behind the main story, while others require you to get your hands dirty. Battles in Resonance of Fate are a little different from traditional turn based JRPGs. Turn based features still persist, but the Hero Actions are what really help Resonance of Fate shine. Hero Actions allow Vashyron, Zephyr, and Leanne to sneak in additional attacks while rushing towards enemies until they reach a set destination and can perform an additional action for every ‘charge’ – with the number of charges allocated being based upon the upgrades on your gun or distance from the enemy. They’ll jump, slide, and perform stylish acrobatics all in the name of damage. Although there is more to the fights that fancy gunplay and a few front flips as bullets fly overhead.
Unfortunately Hero Actions aren’t performed for free, to use them you’ll need to gamble one ‘Bazel’ – not to be confused with the city. Bazels equate to your character’s health and failing to inflict enough damage when you use a Bazel will result in a loss whereas successfully meeting the criteria gives a chance to retain the original Bazel and a chance at earning more. As tempting as the prospect of earning a plethora of Bazels may be, your team will breakdown, panic, and become ineffective in combat should you run out of Bazels. Limiting your potential damage and movement abilities. At first the combat system can be difficulty to navigate, especially when wrapping your head around Bazels, but mastery is extremely rewarding and pivotal in success. Resulting in Resonance of Fate being a game that rewards its players for patience and understanding of systems rather than a hunt for the best gear.
However, it wouldn’t be an RPG if there wasn’t some semblance of loot hoarding. Resonance of Fate is all about upgrading your weapon with various parts. There are two primary types of weapon to base your designs on, handguns and machineguns. The former is the primary source of direct damage while the latter does superficial damage known as scratch damage. Combining the two by initially using the machinegun to deal scratch damage and following up with a handgun shot to remove the scratch damage plus direct damage is the main aim, creating complimenting playstyles and roles within the team based on your loadout. To ensure that the team is composed of the right ingredients, you’ll need to become proficient with your desired weapons and switch regularly to level up. While the weapon’s themselves will never increase in quality, unlike your character, their parts will. Things like scopes, handguards, barrels, and stocks can be attached to weapons to increase accuracy or tweak charge capability. It’s a refreshing change in the traditional bigger stick scenario commonly found in other games within the genre that allows active engagement with how you build your weapon to support the scenarios you may encounter. There’s a brilliant sense of connection with your guns, it’s almost like they are characters themselves.
But we already knew about all of this, when it comes to the remaster there a few missing quality of life changes, the arena being one unaddressed area. The arena is a thunderdome culminating in 500 fights split evenly across 50 ranks. Navigating the menus is time consuming and the loading screens tedious. It’s an area that the remaster should have looked at a little closer to ease the laborious tasks of participation. That doesn’t mean there are no changes, in fact a now notorious get rich quick scheme has been patched out and additional costumes have been removed due to licensing issues. And then there is the general overhaul of textures that are only really noticeable to those with a PS4Pro. Resonance of Fate still offers better graphical fidelity over the Xbox 360, but it’s only a small step when transitioning from last gen to this gen.
Resonance of Fate is still a stand out title in its genre. It has everything; turn-based combat, an interesting world to explore, a rich and vibrant cast, and a comedic touch. If you haven’t added it to your collection, I would say this is a must have in whatever form you can find it – even if that means picking it up on a previous generation’s console.