I’m about 5 or so hours into Resonance of Fate now and honestly; I must have given up on it half a dozen times. The fact that I’m still playing it speaks volumes of the underlying quality of the game but my God, the first few hours are one hell of a slog. From the well hidden tutorial to the merciless enemies and general lack of explanation, Resonance of Fate’s deep, unique and ultimately excellent battle system is just about as unforgiving as gaming gets.
After stumbling into a battle just as I was trying to get my bearings, I found myself in a tutorial free scrap in which my previous jrpg experience counted for naught as the opposing grunts annihilated my team of well dressed youngsters as they jumped aimlessly about the screen. Other than getting a single lucky shot off via panic induced button mashing, I was left decimated, humbled but above all, completely confused.
Even after I found the tutorial and went through each of the 15 scenarios with a fine tooth comb, I still found myself being destroyed by even the most basic of enemies on something of a regular basis. I wasn’t sure if it was a lack of skill, a lack of knowledge or whether the enemies I were fighting were of too high a level……needless to say, for far too long, I knew far too little.
The thing is, even now, 5 hours in, I’m finding out new things about the battle system but by this point, I’ve got the base knowledge down so finding out the nuances is becoming something of a treat. But that’s the major problem with Resonance of Fate – you’re not drip fed anything, you’re thrown in straight at the deep end with a pool of sharks circling at your feet. Don’t get me wrong, I’m so glad I stuck with the game rather than breaking the disc in half in a fit of rage (so nearly happened) because when you finally do get to grips with the battle system, it proves as compelling and addictive as anything you’ll find on the shelves.
But the hours before? Man, I’d love to know the percentage of gamers who gave up after the first hour….heck, the first 15 minutes. There’s one thing struggling against a hugely challenging videogame but struggling against an already challenging videogame with absolutely no idea of what you should be doing is another thing altogether. Sure, Demon’s Souls is ultimately the more difficult game but there is not a moment in that entire experience that comes close to the infuriation caused by the first few hours of Resonance of Fate. The difference is, Demon’s Souls always feels fair whereas the first few hours of Resonance of Fate feel anything but.
Tri Ace and Sega have created a unique, finely crafted and hugely enjoyable jrpg but for some strange reason, they’ve decided to hide it behind one of the poorest tutorials of all time and the steepest learning curve since Helen Keller decided to take on Japanese. Is Resonance of Fate worth the trouble? Yes. Will it drive you crazy? Without question.
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