Five RPGs that Break the Rules: Resonance of Fate

, | Game diaries

Yes, that’s a scene from an RPG.

A typical role playing game asks the player to stare at a list of commands, deciding which one he wants, followed by the same animation playing out each time. Resonance of Fate asks the player to run straight at an enemy, shooting it so he goes flying into the air, then jumping after it shooting it some more so that he slams into the ground doing additional damage, and, yes, this is still an RPG.

After the jump, turn-based bullet-time

Of the five parts in this game diary, most of the games are based on traditional role playing game rules that go in a different direction. Resonance of Fate and the final entry — stay tuned! — light the rule book on fire and then throw it out the window.

There is no way that I can discuss everything that makes Resonance of Fate unique. Earlier this year I wrote a five-part analysis on as many aspects of the game that I could. The insane design should come as no surprise from people who know about developer Tri-Ace. Tri-Ace was the designer behind the Valkryie Profile games which also went in a different direction compared to other series.

What made me fall in love with Resonance’s design is how they tried to avoid as many tropes of the genre as humanly possible. Your party will have at most 3 characters. Anything that has to do with offense are based on whatever gun they’re using, which can be switched between the characters at any time. Guns can be customized with a variety of parts. Realistically speaking, attaching 5 scopes to a gun won’t make it better, but here it works. All the running and jumping around is limited by those 4 icons you see at the bottom of the screenshot. These are balanced by also acting as part of your life gauge. If a character runs out of health, he’ll use up one or more sections of that bar. If the bar runs out during combat, it leaves your party in a weakened state where they can die and the game ends.

When you attack someone, the targeting reticule fills up to determine how many times your character will actually attack during their turn. As you level up, the number of times the reticule can spin will increase. At higher levels, there is a chance a special modifier will be added, such as a greater chance to knock an enemy up in the air or break through its defenses. Later enemies will wear armor which requires you to blast through before being able to score actual damage. But running and jumping allows you a chance to flank the enemy and hit an exposed side.

Unfortunately there are a few issues with the game that kept it from achieving the same renown as the other games in this diary. The game is incredibly one-note, and you’ll see just about everything it has to offer within the first hour of play. Even when the game starts adding new enemies, your options in battle, while unique, remain the same. I got to around 75% done before I got bored and put it aside.

For those hoping that the story would help motivate you to keep playing, good luck. Resonance of Fate features one of the most incomprehensible stories I’ve seen in a game. Cut scenes pop up during and after a chapter of the game. It’s hard to tell if you’re watching a flashback, or if it’s actually happening at present time. Each character has a baggage of drama and buried secrets, which will of course be spilled out during the many cut scenes. Who knows, maybe the last hour of the game goes down a checklist and explains everything to the player.

Resonance of Fate was an experiment at trying something new with the genre. Even though it doesn’t succeed on all fronts, it’s still something to try for people who are tired of the same thing in their games.

Up next: what’s old is new again
Previously: Shin Megami Tensei Nocture

Josh Bycer, who posts as jab2565 on the Quarter to Three forums, is a living, breathing game encyclopedia who’s has been playing games since the age of three. As he tries to get his foot into the industry’s door, you can find his writings at his blog, Mind’s Eye, and at Gamasutra.