Resonance of Fate (or End of Eternity for the Japanese version) is a very different RPG. Even more different from most of its companion JRPGs, which is really saying something if you know anything about JRPGs. And I don’t mean “different” as in weird, which JRPGs can certainly be, but different as in unique. Resonance of Fate is unique in its gameplay, setting & story. Most sources give it moderately positive reviews. It probably averages around 75%. So does its uniqueness work to its advantage or disadvantage?
RoF is set in the futuristic steampunk world of Basel. Hundreds of years before the game starts, humanity built Basel to purify the air of a poison that nearly wiped out all life. They also built a device called Zenith, which tied their lives to quartz stones. This saved them from mutations, but gives them a set lifespan. Over time people began to live in Basel & forgot completely about a world existing outside the machine. They came to revere Zenith as a god. The game follows three Hunters, adventurers-for-hire, Vashyron, Zephyr & Leanne. These three are tied together by the fact that they should all be dead but continue to live. They hire their services to the aristocratic Cardinals who live at the top of Basel. These missions range from killing the giant mechanical tortoise destroying the power plant, to crashing another Cardinal’s wedding, to delivering Christmas presents. Each chapter ends once this main mission is completed, but there are other side mission to complete for money or items. As the story progresses, the Hunters become unwillingly dragged into a war between two men: one who wants to control god & the other who wants to abandon god.
The gameplay is what really stands out in this game. Combat is both turn-based & real-time. The combat is a bit too complicated for me to explain completely here, but I’ll try to give an abbreviated version. Combat is gun-based. You have access to machine guns, pistols & grenades. Machine guns create scratch damage. This damage builds up quickly, but it won’t kill an enemy & recovers over time. Pistols & grenades create direct damage. This damage builds up slowly but can kill an enemy. In order to do the most damage, you have to use machine guns to scratch an enemy, followed by pistols to permanently harm them. For example, if your machine gun does 10 points of scratch damage followed by a pistol, it will automatically convert that to 10 points of direct damage. During combat you have three types of attacks available: Hero actions, tri-attacks & regular attacks. Regular attacks include moving your character around the battlefield & single attacks. Hero actions are what you’ll use the most. They allow you to move along a path while attacking multiple times, & also make you invulnerable. Hero actions use up bezel gauges, which can be replenished by taking out enemies or doing enough damage. Once you run out of bezel, you enter Critical Mode. All damage done to your character is direct & you can only use regular attacks. Tri-attacks are your most powerful attacks. You can use these by using Hero actions that cross. Once you’ve crossed at least two Hero runs, a tri-attack allows all three characters to attack in sequence & heals scratch damage.
I can’t highly recommend enough to play through the tutorial and the battle arena. This will go a long way in helping you learn the combat.
Aside from the combat, gameplay is your standard RPG. The only things that are unique are the customization and world map. The only thing to really spend your money on is clothing & gun upgrades. There’s a long list of clothing items to buy for each character, including hair dyes & colored contacts. Pieces can be bought for your guns to increase magazine size, charge speed, damage, etc. The grid for customization allows for some crazy combinations! You’ll also gain energy hexes during combat to unlock areas in the world map.
Narrative: It takes a while for the main story to really get going. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The first part of the game is building up the relationship between the characters. It’s the relationship between them that really makes the main plot later in the game believable. The Hunters & their Cardinal patrons all have unique & entertaining personalities. The game really has a sense of humor & genuinely made me laugh.
Each mission is different, & not just the goal. Sometimes you have all three Hunters, other you only have two, & sometimes you only have one. It can seem a bit spastic at times, but it’s always moving towards a singular endpoint. My only real complaint is the ending. It left me without a sense of real closure. Although the heroes survive, the enemies aren’t really defeated. I’m not sure if they’re planning a sequel or not. Score: 4
Mechanics: As I said before, the gameplay is the real selling point of this game. It’s a love it or hate it type of thing. The combat system can take a while to fully understand, but once you get it I think there’s something for everyone to enjoy. It has enough turn-based to appeal to traditionalists, enough real-time for the action enthusiast, & enough strategy for strategists. It’s very satisfying pulling a tri-attack & decimated your enemies. The only real problem I had in terms of gameplay is that, like most JRPGs, it can be very grind-heavy. If you want to not struggle through the main missions, you have to grind. The arena is the best for this. But it does stall the game a bit. On the plus side, you can always restart difficult fights… if you’re willing to pay the money. There is sort of an exploration aspect as well. It’s a bit weird having to “unlock” paths on the map, but doing so can give you lots of nice loot. And I was surprised at how addicting it can be suping-up your guns can be. You can achieve some ridiculous firepower, but it’s oh-so-satisfying. Score: 4
Aesthetics: Sadly, the visuals aren’t as groundbreaking as the gameplay. While the characters are nicely animated, the environment can get a bit bland. Although the grays & browns help lend to the steampunk feel of the game, most of the backgrounds look the same, especially during combat. Also, the world map isn’t that interesting to look at, which is a shame since you’ll spend a lot of time there. Combat movement is very stylish, however. Sliding along the ground or flipping through the air lends to the action movie feel. The audio is a bit better. The music is nice & matches the level. The voiceacting is also good. There weren’t any awkward translations like you sometimes get in Japanese games. Score: 3
Replay Value: Average. You can only play on Normal during your initial playthrough, but afterwards you unlock Game+ mode & increasing difficulties (Hard, Advanced, Professional, Hurt Me Plenty, Ultimate & Supremacy). If you play on the same difficulty you retain all your items. You can keep leveling up no matter the difficulty. There’s also a hidden level & boss that you can only reach after you’ve beaten the game. Score: 3
Overall Score: 4
Final Word: If you like JRPGS, steampunk worlds, or are willing to try something new, I recommend this game. If you don’t have the patience to learn the combat or just like to fly to the end of a game, you probably won’t enjoy this one.
Game Title: Resonance of Fate (End of Eternity) Console: 360 & PS3 Rating: T Developer: tri-Ace Publisher: Sega Release Date: March 16, 2010