The once bold Japanese role-playing genre is in a terrible decline, with many wondering if this genre’s days are permanently numbered. Tri-Ace has released several titles this generation, with most of them receiving poor or mixed reception. Resonance of Fate attempts to bring an unorthodox approach to the genre. Does it succeed in reviving the genre? Or does the genre continue its downward spiral into oblivion?
Japanese role-playing games used to be all about story. In fact, any great RPG requires a good story, and unfortunately Resonance of Fate stumbles and face plants in this regard. The setting is intriguing, but the narrative is poorly written and put together. Essentially, ROF takes place in a nearly inhospitable world in which mankind has crafted massive towers in order to survive. When the game starts, these towers are beginning to fail, leaving large sections of the city closed off which leads to a very unbalanced class system. The main characters, Vashyron, Zephyr, and Leanne fit somewhere in the middle, taking jobs as Hunters. Any potential the story may have had in the beginning is quickly squandered with poor and pointless cut-scenes, bad writing, and tasteless humor. The story progression is terrible, and when you do get into the meat of the overall story it’s completely underwhelming. Frankly, this complete disregard for the story is completely unacceptable. The story is by far the weakest part of ROF, but how does the rest of the product match up?
I’m a huge fan of the art style in ROF, however nothing original is done with it. The characters and narrative don’t mesh well with the art style, which is a shame because it’s very intriguing. The graphics also stumble in certain regards, with sub-par character models. The graphics are certainly not breathtaking; however they are backed-up by an interesting art style that gives a bit more visual fidelity. The sound design is average, avoiding any potential pitfalls, and the voice acting has some charm at times. Aside from that, there’s nothing noteworthy from a presentation standpoint.
Resonance of Fate finally begins to shine when it comes to gameplay. The battle system is similar to the set-up seen in Valkyria Chronicles; however it opts for a more cinematic approach. Battles are a blast to participate in and even watch. Do you wish you could do the stuff seen in trailers? It’s closer than most RPG titles have come in years, and is a fresh experience in the JRPG genre. Despite how awesome the combat is, it’s not without some issues. At times, the same cinematic animations are used which leads to some repetition. Also, the combat does a have a learning curve, and I suggest that you go over the tutorials a few times. At the halfway point, the combat begins to stall. Almost every RPG offers new and interesting abilities or items to unlock, and ROF takes several steps back in this regard. Some more variety could have gone a long way into improving the overall combat system.
Traveling in Resonance of Fate is one of the more interesting twists. Many parts of the world map are initially locked. By completing quests or defeating enemies you gain items called hexes. These hexes range from different colors to shapes, and you have to place them on the world map to unlock certain areas. This is by no means a revolutionary feature; however it prevents traveling from becoming a boring grind.
Resonance of Fate is a game with a lot of hits and misses. With better production values and a decent story it could have been one of the better RPG’s this generation. As it stands, fans of Japanese role-playing game will not be disappointed, however it’s a much harder sell to a casual player who will not care to explore all that it has to offer. Despite ROF being a decent title, it’s still proof that the genre has a long way to catch up to its western counterparts.