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Resonance of Fate is a clear example of the paradox: “Less is More”!

April 4, 2011

I should point out, right away that I haven’t finished the game yet, even though, I have 70 hours worth of gameplay and I got the gist of the gameplay, this is both an opinion piece and a rundown of impressions about what I played thus far. So spoilers are to be expected and will be clearly marked as such.

Let’s dive into this particular RPG…(Hit the jump to read the full article, be careful, spoilers within)

A Love-Hate Relantionship with the game

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t too excited about this game, Tri-Ace’s previous effort for the Xbox 360, Infinite Undiscovery, tested me in every possible way and I had given up on it completetly before I had finished the very first dungeon. So Resonance of Fate had to earn my trust. But, unfortunately, the fact that the game never actually teaches you how to fight, coppled with the fact that mistakes and miscalculations are for the most part, severly punished, once I had gotten to Chapter 4, it was too much and my copy was shelved for a full year. But the month was January, of 2011 and I needed another JRPG fix. So once again, I thought to play RoF once again, which I did. What I discovered is that, if played just the right way, Resonance of Fate is a very rewarding experience, especially after a very tough battle against a boss that has twice your Level. I’ve also learned to tolerate defeat and learn lessons over what to do next.

The Unlikely Trio

You start the game with three main protagonists, much like every single major character in a Phantasy Star Genesis game, they are guns-for-hire, mercenaries and most of their adventures revolve precisely around the various assignments they are given by usually some high class snob with too money and/or peculiar tastes. You have Vashyron, the de facto leader of the group, a former soldier, who now works as a bounty hunter. He’s stoic and wise-cracking at the same time, he has a rather curious history with the game’s other major protagonist Zephyr.

Of course, Zephyr, on the surface, is your typical angsty teenager, you know those who almost always have some grudge, daddy issues or other vague existential dillemas. He also harbors a huge disdain for religious authority which would make him the poster-boy for the new wave of douchebag atheists that we have today. Typically that crowd can be described as rebels without a cause, however, what drives Zephyr as a character is that he actually has a reason to act this way. You see, in the intro for the game, Vashyron is given an assigment by a cardenal to take out an insane person who commited an unspecified crime, the figthing ensues and Vashyron ends up getting the best of this kid, he presses him against the wall, aims at point black and pulls the trigger.

That doesn’t make any sense, because Zephyr would be dead, however, as the player goes through each chapter, the mistery behind Zephyr is slowly unveiled. We don’t know what motivated him, but Zephyr committed a massacre inside a church, the Crank Seminary, having murdered everyone in it, including church people and other bystanders. The cardinal Lagerfield, which eventually becomes an antagonist, served as a witness to his execution, to which Vashyron served as the executioner. A higher power seems to be in place here as, Zephyr survives, is nursed back into health and becomes Vashyron’s business partner.

Leanne’s backstory, however,  is a little more complicated, because it ties in with the larger “story”. Why did I put quotes on story? Read the next bit.

What’s the plot?

You are probably wondering why I posted this picture of Seinfeld. Suffice to say that it is related to Resonance of Fate

Remember that episode when George and Jerry pitched an idea for a sitcom to NBC suits about “nothing”? You can see it as a fourth wall joke, since Seinfeld was mostly a sitcom about episodic day-to-day life situations. The same can be said about Resonance of Fate’s plot, a mesh of episodic plots that begin and end after each chapter is completed, while in the background there is some sort of sinister conspiracy looming in the future, though there doesn’t appear to be an immediate urgency or threat. But everything else, is still shrowded in mistery and the veil is being pulled down bit by bit.

Get to the point, why does “Less is More” apply to Resonance of Fate?

Like many professional reviewers have pointed out, Resonance of Fate cannot compete in any, shape or form with the bigger JRPGs such as Final Fantasy 13, Lost Odyssey and Tales of Vesperia as far as story, visuals and music goes. It’s only edge would be gameplay, especially as it is a very fast paced Strategy RPG, an uncommon trait in this subgenre. The use of firearms is most certainly pleasing to audiences that love their 2nd Admenment Rights. Another of it’s unspoken sucesses would be how Tri-Ace managed to present an epic RPG in the same vein as those I’ve mentioned before with all the bravado and presentation, but they cheated their way out, in a very cost effective manner. It’s a low-cost equivalent of a epic JRPG. Take a closer look, all the rooms during all the random battles are the same, just a sligthy different background. All of the towns and locals (many of the mansions in the upper levels re-use plenty of the same assests) that you explore have maybe one or two areas that you can roam around freely, while most of the time is spent roaming dungeons with identicals rooms. The space between areas is just a map where you drag a pointer to your next destination. Add the fact that instead of 30-40 minute long cutscenes we get maybe about 2-5 minute long cutscenes that are succint and to the point (even though a lot of it is still idle chatter).

It is no mystery that JRPGs are very expensive to produce and in this generation they haven’t been able to be as commercially succesful as their rising western counterparts (Mass Effect as a prime example). Perhaps, cutting costs is one way to go.

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