Resonance of Fate: Destined To Be Delightfully Complex

By Spencer . March 23, 2010 . 5:32pm


Resonance of Fate opens with a dramatic cutscene where Subject 20, a girl fated to die when she turns twenty leaps off a building, head first into a city. Zephyr, a teenage hunter, grabs a rope and swings over to save her. The rope snaps and both lead characters plummet towards the ground before having a “Peter Pan” moment.


What happens next? Hold that thought. Resonance of Fate begins in Vashyron’s home where he lives with Zephyr and Leanne, a cheerful girl Zephyr saved. The three of them are mercenaries living in the distant future where Earth is so polluted people can only survive in Basel, a tower-like machine rooted deep in the ground. It just so happens Basel is also inhibited by monsters, mobsters, and other unfriendly fodder, which is why the wealthy citizens hire Vashyron’s squad for fetch quests.


Resonance of Fate is broken down into missions, some are required to complete a chapter and others are optional. You decide which order to do them in. Missions are posted on a bulletin board inside the guild with a picture of the client. Why a picture? Vashyron has to track clients down Where’s Waldo style by running around Ebel City to talk to them and eventually claim his reward. The town (yes, there is a town) has a neat aesthetic, which is part clockwork-punk and part Victorian. Ebel City isn’t vastly populated, but there are shops and townsfolk to talk to. However, the average city dweller only speaks generic greetings like “hi” or “hello there.” They say a lot more in silent text boxes, though.




Leave Ebel City and you can explore the world map. Elevators take you to different levels of Basel and “dungeons.” But, wait you can’t go to those yet because you haven’t built a path to them. Resonance of Fate has a puzzle-like system where the World Map needs to be filled in with energy hexes. Once you rotate and plop an energy hex down you can move on that square hexagon. Sounds simple enough, but you’re given all kinds of shapes, sizes, and colors. The last variable is particularly important since colored spots act like barriers by preventing players from passing until someone gives them a hex with a matching hue. Most energy hexes are earned from fighting enemies in random encounters.


And Resonance of Fate has a lot of fighting done with an original battle system created by tri-Ace. Resonance of Fate doesn’t have swords, magic, or menus. The “tri-attack-battle” system is something like a mix of Valkyria Chronicles and Star Ocean. Each character (Vashyron, Zephyr, and Leanne) have action points shown as a life bar-like meter. You use these to move and charge for a shot. The closer you are to a target, the less time and action points it takes to charge. After one full charge you can attack. (You can charge more, if you want.) Rat-tatta! [Blue damage points popup.] Those are scratch damage points. Technically, you didn’t “damage” the enemy. Scratch damage, dealt from using machine guns and other rapid fire weapons, naturally recovers over time and can’t defeat an enemy. You need to deal direct damage from a handgun or throwing weapon such as a hand grenade to hurt a thug or robot. Direct damage also converts all scratch damage to a permanent wound. Scratch damage hits harder than direct damage so you typically want to spray bullets with a machine gun and then close with direct damage.




That’s only the beginning.


Resonance of Fate adds another layer of strategy with bezel points and hero actions. Players can set a route for a hero action, which Vashyron runs on until he reaches the end or bumps into a solid object. While moving, Vashyron can shoot enemies with flashy moves like sliding past an enemy in slow motion and flipping in the air while firing a pistol. You can also leap over enemies and walls, which other party members can use as makeshift cover. Since time slows down during hero actions, players deal way more damage and can hit more enemies while using a hero attack. The catch is each hero action consumes one bezel. You can restore bezels by destroying enemies, critically wounding them (like shooting an arm off a robot) or wining a battle. Bezels also act as extra lives. If Zephyr is daydreaming in a corner and a gremlin knocks his HP down to zero you also lose a bezel. Run out of bezels and the entire party enters critical condition. Leanne trembles when she fires her gun in this state. Why? Because the game ends if a single party member gets knocked out. You can, in theory and personal practice, enter critical condition by using too many hero actions in a row. On the other hand, if you don’t use any hero attacks, your party can be overwhelmed. There’s a clever risk-reward relationship when it comes to bezels.




And we’re still in the shallow end of combat. Tri-ace added more maneuvers like resonance points, which you earn by running through the other two characters. These are used to trigger an all out tri-attack where everyone runs in a triangle blasting bullets. Then there are smackdown moves, air-juggling bonus shots, and body part targeting. Resonance of Fate is complicated, especially in the beginning. This is one game where it pays to run through the tutorial at the battle arena. Especially because you’re going to spend a lot of time fighting. “Dungeons” (note the quotes) are really long battles. Each screen has enemies and after you clear them you move right into another enemy filled hex. This continues until you leave or battle a boss.


All of these battles are rewarded with a ton of experience points, which are poured into your weapons. Resonance of Fate calculates each character’s level by taking the sum of their individual weapon (handgun/machinegun/throwing weapon) levels. So, if you bring handgun up from level 1 to 2 you get a whole character level. Trading weapons is a handy way of building up your characters fast. Weapons also grow when you customize them. Players can tack on parts like scopes and clips by placing them on a Diablo-like inventory sheet. Vashyron (and his squad) can also be customized with various garments, hairstyles, hair colors, and even colored contacts at the boutique. These changes stick during story sequences since Resonance of Fate uses models instead of pre-rendered movies.




In the beginning, Resonance of Fate’s story doesn’t feel like it has direction. Why did Zephyr save Leanne? How is Vashyron so well connected? What happened to the Earth? Tri-ace, in a way, says don’t worry about those things now – here’s Leanne dressed with funny facepaint. Oh, and go give this person knives. The plot doesn’t pickup for awhile so Resonance of Fate feels like The Misadventures of Vashyron’s Hunter Squad at first. Each chapter acts like its own sitcom episode for the first half of the game. You get to know the cast as ordinary people first rather than a group of heroes with flashbacks to their regular lives. I found this aspect of Resonance of Fate refreshing.




The game also progresses as quickly or as slowly as you want. You choose when its time to move on to the next chapter. Speaking of time, Resonance of Fate is time-friendly. It’s a console game with a suspend save. So, you don’t need to search for a save point or race to Vashyron’s house just to take a break. Suspend saves vanish after you load them, but they’re great for long games like RPGs. (Developers take note of this!) Also, if you lose a battle, even a boss battle, Resonance of Fate doesn’t reset to the title screen or warp you to a church after taking half your money. You can have a second (or third, forth, fifth…) chance if you spend a small sum of money. It’s enough of a penalty to make you feel bad, but not frustrated.


Tri-ace implemented a ton of ideas in Resonance of Fate, which makes it stand out from all of the other RPGs out in stores this month. Not all of them are perfect, but Resonance of Fate is certainly unique and has more substance than the Hollywood action flick style screenshots imply.

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  • Hraesvelgr

    I started the game up last week, but I ended up getting into Infinite Space more, so I let it rest for a while. Got up to an event in Infinite Space that made me a bit angry at the game, so I picked RoF up again and I’m liking it quite a bit. Even if that opening scene just seems so out of place for where the game goes after that.

  • JeremyR

    I really need to get this, looks like the first interesting “next gen” RPG since the original Mass Effect

  • WICH ONE FIRST… THIS OR FF 13?! help D:

    • Honestly, if you don’t mind the battle system (which if you have a japanese PSN you can get the demo) I would pick this. If you have an Xbox… well that ball is in your court and I’m not stepping over that line but its gonna be love or hate on both games. Also Resonance of Fate is going to become hard to find if word gets out.

      • cowcow

        The Japanese demo has been taken down for a while now.

        I still have it though

        Plus Fist of the North Star comes out soon

        • Masengan

          Darn…. I really want to play the Demo or something before getting the whole thing, IF I get it.

    • Hraesvelgr

      Which one to play first or which one to buy first? If you’re questioning which to buy, I’d go with RoF, as it will likely be harder to find sooner than FFXIII. If you’re questioning which to play, well… I’d say go with RoF, though I don’t think FFXIII is as bad as some say.

    • Aoshi00

      FFXIII was not bad but felt like it missed the mark on many fronts. I just started RoF and the intro was beautiful and I immediately loved walking around town and speaking to NPCs, I felt more captivated by its world than XIII’s. I thought why couldn’t FFXIII have more of that, it had 3 semi-towns, Bodhum beach, Oerba, & Nautilus, and one small room (Hope’s place).

      I can’t wait to play more of it this weekend, I was too tired to read all the tutorial last night.

      I haven’t played much other than the demo so far, if I were to pick one at the moment, I say RoF, and wait till price drop on FFXIII later ($40 is fair).

  • Man, im loving this game far more than I am FFXIII.

    • Aoshi00

      I like how the NPCs actually have things to say, instead of just a single line in FFXIII which felt meaningless even though they were was all fully voiced..

    • Artavasdus

      Yeah, I finished FF13 yesterday and while I didn’t hate it at all even considering its faults, sadly the last three chapters were positively boring and frustrating, with laughable boss fights and horribly long normal mob, endless dungeons and a lack of any meaningful character development. Basically I knew what I had to do since chapter 9, and from that point it was like a 20-hours final dungeon spanning various locales.

      I started RoF last evening and it was like a breeze of fresh air, without dozens of cutscenes and with an emphasis on actual gameplay that was very welcome. Also, the battle system is rewarding (as is the map system) and I like both the setting the “in medias res” approach of the plot.

      • Ereek

        Wow, I had a completely different experience with XIII. Chapter 9 and beyond were by the far the high points of the game for me, and I loved doing the side missions. I also never really experienced the 4-5 minute normal encounters that some people complain about, though some of the bosses were quite long. Ah well, to each their own and I can respect your opinion.

        • Artavasdus

          I hear that a lot, for many gamers chapters 9-13 were the major highlight of the game since the plot actually started going somewhere and battles became more complex (not to mention the pulsian sidequests, of course).

          For other players, though, the character development and quick change of locales seen in chapters 1-8 were more entertaining and endearing, even more so since in the last quarter of the game the character’s feudsdiscomfortspersonal problems are almost all solved and the only focus is to press on till the end. Regarding the length of the normal mob fights, I experienced that problem with many enemy parties in the last dungeon: they weren’t difficult per se, but they required minutes of carefully planned paradigm changes to break and kill them one by one. Many of the last bosses were easier than some mob parties (for instance, do you remember Wladislaus? that one went down fast as wind).

          • Ereek

            Actually, I can understand about the character conflicts. I thoroughly enjoyed the conflict of the first 8 chapters (and overall story, atmosphere, and theme) but I liked the gameplay of the last 3-4 Chapters. I was a bit sad at how character relationships progressed as you hit the end. The one exception being Fang and Vanille, I think they have a lovely relationship.

  • This is a great game. I’ve been enjoying it since picking it up! It’s made me put everything else on hold.

  • have yet to play it. IM excited to open my copy come spring break though hah

  • Simon

    For some reason, the opening feels like FF9 to me.. just a little

  • Soma

    Great review, Spencer. I was just thinking about posting my initial thoughts about RoF on the Facebook page. :3
    Just finished chapter one. Really, really enjoying this game. A lot more than I thought I would. It reminds me of the type of RPG’s I was playing back on the PSOne. It has this … charm to it. It’s hard to describe.
    Also, the soundtrack is amazing!

    • Aoshi00

      I just started the game, but the music played during the 5-gig install was beautiful. Sometimes a game just needs to go back to the basics to be fun.

      • Soma

        Most definitely. :3
        I also find that there is a good mix of music. Soft, relaxing piano music in the towns. Thrashing guitar riffs during battles.
        The music always suits the mood.

        • Artavasdus

          Imho this is one of Sakuraba’s best works in years, seeing the sheer quantity of OSTs he has to do one would fear for his creativity, and truthfully some of his last works weren’t particularly memorable.

          • Soma

            I really enjoy both his works and Kohei Tanaka’s compositions in RoF. Just a great soundtrack.

          • Aoshi00

            Oh yeah, that explains it, I forgot Tanaka Kouhei was the co-composer for RoF, I love some of the soundtrack he did for anime, like Busou Renkin.

  • Aoshi00

    Sounds good, I like these little light hearted episodes for the chars, makes them feel more human, Magna Carta 2 had some too :)

    • humm does it have dual language? …….. i like the japanese cover better so ……….. im inclined to import ….

      • Aoshi00

        You mean RoF? Yeah, the US ver is dual track, but not Magna Carta 2 (the Eng dub is good though). You should give both games a try, MC2 too when you finally get a 360. And you can’t miss Lost Odyssey, I like it much more than FFXIII :) I did play FFXII totally for the Eng. voices too, Fran, Balthier, Basch, Vayne, Larsa, the judges, etc all sounded awesome.

        • LO is wating on my shelf! ^__^ it will be played!
          And ofc ill get magna carta 2 , although i wanted to play the first too ««!
          Good that ROF has it ! Another one to buy this month!

          • Aoshi00

            I preferred the Jpn cover too, w/ the 3 characters looking up the tower from the bottom, much more artistic like Ico. But if you want dual track only the US ver. has it, its cover isn’t so bad, the regular montage of the main cast.

            If nothing else, LO is worthy a game to get a 360 for. It’s one of the best RPGs this gen for me. Magna Carta 2 has nothing to do w/ the first game, so you don’t need to play the PS2 game in order to play 2. The battle system is totally different, I didn’t like the first game but I like 2 a lot.

  • I haven’t started it yet. I am on Chapter 13 of FFXIII, so I should be done in a day or two. I am trying to decide whether to start this or Yakuza 3 first. I’m upgrading to an HDTV soon so I was thinking of waiting until I get that to play this, but I dunno. Guess I will decide when I’m done with XIII. Looking forward to playing it, though.

  • After 40 hours in and having the game feel more like a task, I put down FFXIII and picked this up. I’m very pleased with the system. Great review and I highly recommend this, too! Also, if you’re a 360 owner you don’t have to listen to people complain about FFXIII PS3 vs 360 because RoF is basically the same on each.

  • speedstersonic

    I do really like this game, but the battle system isn’t really that complicated. Basics to win, hero action with your machinegunner, charge to full, release, hero action with handgunner, charge once, release. Maybe throw in a tri-attack to finish off some harder enemies. The game just seems to easy, I’ve taken down bosses in two turns. Hoping the special dungeon Tri-ace always has is really hard, because so far the game has been pretty easy. I love the story and setting and everything else about the game, just wish it was either harder at the beginning, or let you pick your difficulty from the start instead of having to play through multiple times. On chapter 14 right now in game.

  • Pesmerga00

    I’m glad to see this game getting a good reception here. I’m really looking forward to it now.

    It seemed to be getting so-so reviews elsewhere(Whining the battle system is complex. Oh noes!), but I’ll take the opinions of members here over GameFaqs, Ign, and 1up, any day.

    The music I have heard so far is good, and I like the character customization. The detailed backgrounds with a side view remind me of VP2 which also is good.

    A few questions for those who played it; thanks.
    How is the character development? Dialog? Seems to have some humor in it.
    I know it takes place in a single tower. But is the more than one town(higher-lower levels)? And are the environments varied?
    Lastly are dungeons straight, or do they require exploration?

    You never can tell with Tri-Ace lately, but it looks like this might actually be one of their better releases.

    Also Quick Save, Yes!

  • Nekobo

    Been keeping an out on this, but I had to pass because of all the games that came out this month. Still grinding through FFXIII, just started Strange Journey, and Sakura Wars next week. Wish I was a still a student so I could have spring break/ditch class. :P

  • masuto

    Good review

  • Saturnus

    I’m glad this game looks like it will be worth the investment. Your description of the battle system alone has me itching to start playing!

  • Trust Tri-Ace to make what sounds like one of the best RPGs this gen. <3

    • Ereek

      Honestly, I think it’s a bit overrated. It’s good, don’t get me wrong, but saying it’s the best JRPG this generation is a bit of an overstatement. Your characters don’t even have a part in the main plot until the last ~5-10% of the game. I don’t typically agree with their reviews, but IGN really hit the mark with it.

      But on the other hand, Nolan North did an absolutely brilliant job, as always.

      • The only review I’ve read aside from Spencer’s playtest is 1UP’s, which I didn’t find very informative. I’ll check IGN’s out since you recommend it. :)Yea, it probably isn’t the best. I’m sure part of the reason people are welcoming it with such open arms is because it’s different from FFXIII, which everyone seems divided over. But hey, in the end it’s Tri-Ace. I’ll never forget the fond memories of spending 30 minutes trying to figure out where L3/R3 were in Valkyrie Profile 2, and then crying tears of happiness because the battle system was so good. :DP.S: Turns out there is a way to edit comments. You have to go into your commenter profile > My Activity. You can edit individual comments from there.

  • Masengan

    I wanted to get this game since I have yet to play an RPG on the PS3… but I don’t think my brain can handle it =[

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