(www.sega.com/rof/)  Rated Teen by ESRB.  Typically known for their deeply involving RPG series, tri-Ace creates a radical new entry into the RPG genre. The developers utilize a combination of flashy gunfights, classic 19th century outfits, and unique game mechanics to create a distinct sense of style that also plays with grace and intelligence. Combining the gameplay mechanics of their popular Valkyrie Profile and Star Ocean games, tri-Ace creates a system that is truly never before seen. But unlike many other genre hybrids where the different elements are enjoyed separately, Resonance of Fate is one single package that is distinctive on its own.

(www.sega.com/rof/) Rated Teen by ESRB. Typically known for their deeply involving RPG series, tri-Ace creates a radical new entry into the RPG genre. The developers utilize a combination of flashy gunfights, classic 19th century outfits, and unique game mechanics to create a distinct sense of style that also plays with grace and intelligence. Combining the gameplay mechanics of their popular Valkyrie Profile and Star Ocean games, tri-Ace creates a system that is truly never before seen. But unlike many other genre hybrids where the different elements are enjoyed separately, Resonance of Fate is one single package that is distinctive on its own.

Presentation:
The story takes place in the distant future where Earth is so polluted that it’s hardly inhabitable. Unable to adapt to the changes, the last remnants of humanity created and reside within an enormous environment purifier towering deep into the sky called Basel. All facets of civilization have changed due to these harsh circumstances.

Heavy as it may sound, the plot line in Resonance of Fate is like a 3-course meal served with dozens of appetizers. All story elements are carried out with independent chapters, with half of the chapters being the “appetizers”. For well over 10 hours at the beginning of the game, there are no traces of the “larger struggle” that many other RPGs eagerly force down the players’ throat. In fact, it takes a casual pace to allow the player to take in its world that is vastly different than our own. At the beginning, you lead a team of three hunters that started with doing odd jobs for the nobility and citizens. It first develops the relationship between the characters then slowly provides insight into the full narrative, but the grand surprise behind the fascinating world won’t be revealed until later in the game.

       

Graphics:
Adding to its mystifying steam-punk styled world, there’s even a white haze that lingers in the air. But this serves to add to the atmosphere of the game and gives the illusion of a dreamland. The world design is quite fitting to the theme of the story and the game universe; however, the graphics is not what one would call “shiny”. Traveling through Basel, its civilization is revealed in different shades of white and gray – the color of a desolate world.

The many characters are highlighted by default due to the gray-colored world. The player characters are well designed to fit their traits, and then eccentric NPCs and monsters further enrich the overall novelty of Basel. If the main characters’ clothes aren’t to your liking, a large variety of clothes and accessories can be purchased or found as you explore Basel. The 3 main characters are highly customizable, each with several costume setups. Within each setup, everything from eye color to glove styles can be changed.

The highlights of Resonance of Fate’s graphics go to its flashy combat animation. When executing a “Hero Action”, the character will run, jump, slide, dive, spin, and flip; while stylishly raining bullets onto the enemies the whole time. Some of the actions may appear to defy gravity, and perhaps even the time-space continuum. It may even be nice if this game doesn’t require controller input during the animations, in direct contrast to the overrated and overly lengthy combat animation frequently encountered in other RPGs. The visuals are indeed that flashy the player wouldn’t want to miss out on them, but it’s almost unfortunate that the game requires attention and thinking as the fights unfold.

Sounds:
Gears click their way through their cycles as you tap your way along the cobblestone path. Japanophiles will be glad to know that a Japanese language track is included, as well as its own fair share of puns and inside jokes. But that is not to say the English voice over isn’t of quality because the English cast is quite competent as well. In fact, the English voices may even have a few advantages over the original Japanese cast considering the generic and over-used battle cries from the Japanese voices.

The leading voice cast includes Nolan North (Vashyron), Jessica DiCicco (Leanne), and Scott Meville (Zephyr). Nolan North was heard in many big and small titles recently. For the most part he is still recognizable for his characters’ witty attitude and comments, but the genuine parts about his character this time separates him from his other equally outstanding performances. Scott Meville does an excellent job portraying a teenager boy, especially one that is not whiny and lost. It’s more impressive knowing that the man is in his late 30s. The only annoying part about the voice acting is that some of the baddies’ last words can be repetitive.

Fans of tri-Ace that have a keen ear for music will no doubt recognize the J-rock solos that weave in out of the variety of genres. All things considered, the music in Resonance of Fate uses far less synthesizer-type tones and so it doesn’t have the futuristic feel found in tri-Ace’s Star Ocean games. But the bottom line is, the music here fits its gray and seemingly hopeless world, provides enough energy for its cinematic battles, forces the emotional drama, and accompanies everything else in between in a thoughtful manner.

       

Gameplay:
The battle system can be considered intricate even among RPGs. The actions are carried out in real time, but with turn-based elements mixed in to allow thinking and planning. To make it further in-depth, two different types of damage can be dealt: scratch damage that comes in much larger numbers but can be healed over time, and the lesser direct damage that will actually decrease the enemy’s hp and can convert all scratch damage to direct damage. There are quite a few more rules to Resonance of Fate’s combat, but they serve well to increase the strategic component of the battles. The tougher battles definitely require planning a few steps ahead in the fashion of a game of chess.

It is highly recommended to go through the detailed tutorial at some point. While it may be tempting to dive head first into the cinematic gunfights, spending the extra time helps increase one’s enjoyment of this title greatly.

With the amazing gun fights, the guns themselves can’t be dull in comparison. Resonance of Fate does not offer a huge arsenal of weapons found in most other games that involve guns, but it features an almost limitless guns customization mechanic. Unlike the classic pick-an-enhancement styled upgrades, the parts are directly equipped onto the guns by linking up the correct connectors on the guns’ blueprints. Each guns usually come with a few of these connectors of their own. And as you gain access to more gun parts, some of these parts will even allow other parts to be latched onto them. After buying and making some parts, and lots of tinkering; you will find yourself making monstrosities that don’t look so good on paper, yet highly efficient.

Even traveling is a game in its own. In order to travel outside of town, the player is required to release each walking space by connecting them to an unlocked space with energy hexes, commonly obtained from enemies of any kind. But rather than being a chore, the shapes of the energy hexes are designed addictively that the player will subconsciously unlock every single last possible space. The developers clearly had asked themselves, “What can we do to make this feature even more fun?” Evidently so, nodes that generate combat bonuses can be connected using special colored energy hexes for a little extra oomph in battle. Coupled with stacked bonuses, area that are hard to reach with their puzzle-like paths, and some trophies or achievements, merely walking around is a joy in its own right. In direct contrast to most RPGs, it may even have you hoping that the encounter rate was higher so to obtain energy hexes more rapidly.

       

Innovation:
The story blends well as a backdrop to the many games mechanics. Not only do the gameplay elements add to the theme of the game, it also has intricate ties with the game world. Furthermore, the game never feels as though it’s just a showcase of ideas, but more like an open realm for the player to inhale the full circle of life.

Longevity:
In classic tri-Ace fashion, the game provides you with an endless battle arena, extra missions, secret dungeons, new game +, and hard mode. Though the main story can be finished within 40 hours, but take in the extras, you’ll find twice as much time go passing by if not more.

Conclusion:
Resonance of Fate is a delicious blend of cross genre elements tied together with an RPG packaging. Though branded as an RPG, it provides no shortage of action cinematic. Its combat system is especially worthy of praise for the way it provides challenge and complexity without being longwinded and tedious. The game also brings in many well-loved characteristic of tri-Ace’s games, one such being their extraordinary value. Not even considering post-game content; the gun making, the character customizing, and the energy hexes puzzle solving alone will have many perfectionists spend weeks on just the first play through. Add that together with the quality put into this title’s production, and that is what Resonance of Fate has to offer.

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