Monday, August 14, 2000

Resonance of Fate | 8.5

I have finished the game (it took about 80 hours) so here is the final review. I have also added combat tips to the end.

First of all, I love the game. The combat is awesome if you like strategy games. The game has more in common with strategy/rpgs rather than traditional JRPGs. As in any rgp you can roam inside the cities, get side quests, and explore the world map. However, the combat and the missions are very much like that of turn based strategy games. In fact, ROF is more like a strategy game under a JRPG disguise.

Although the combat looks flashy and cool, as I saidbefore, RoF is not an action oriented game. The combat is very deep and strategic. Also learning curve is steep, it takes several hours to learn all the intricacies of the combat, and I will not attempt to explain it here. (I have added some tips and tricks at the end). However, the turn system is very similar to Valkyria Chronicles, it is a mixture of turn based and real-time (while you are moving the enemy also moves and can attack you). Flanking, timing, the type of attack etc. all plays a key role in combat and makes it very satisfying. They are nice to watch too, although your eyes would be on the action gauges most of the time.

There is a tutorial that introduces every battle action but it does not tell you about the tactics. (Think of chess, you can learn the rules in half an hour but you'll have absolutely no idea about the tactics). So the game got better as I played because I began to discover some of the mechanics and the tactics not described in the tutorial. It also has some real-time elements that require timing, which keeps things interesting and gives you some more tricks to help you. (For example, you can manually evade physical attacks if you time your movement right). It takes a long time to master every trick of the combat, but it is very satisfying when you discover something new.

Leveling and customization is all about the guns not the characters. There are 3 types of weapons (handguns, machine guns, and grenades). As the characters use a weapon they get more proficient with that weapon and level up. A character's level is the sum of all 3 weapon levels. For example, a level 20 character can be level 15 handgun, level 4 machine gun, level 1 grenade. As they level up their hit points and respective gun weight limit improve. Also they gain some additional effects (5% stun chance for instance).

You can only customize your weapons. Guns have 5-6 attachment slots (magazine, grip, sights etc.) that you can upgrade with the parts you found. Also you can add extensions to all slots(e.g. adding another barrel to the barrel). However you have space and weight limits that you need to consider. Finally, you can also craft special parts from the basic materials you get from monsters. There is no other customization. There is no armor either, however characters can equip two rings some of which are protective. You can buy a lot of different dresses but they have no effect other than changing the looks of your character (this also affects cutscenes as they are done with the in-game engine).

The story is slow to start. It starts to pick up after Chapter 5 (which would be 10-20 hours into the game depending on the number of sidequests you do), but it is one of the weak points of the game. It does get interesting, but a lot of things are left unexplained even after the game is finished. Simply put, this is not a story-driven game. There are a lot of fetch quests at the beginning but at least the NPCs are quirky, and the interaction between the characters can be funny sometimes. Later on, I got more interested in the story but game only hints at what's going on and never fully explains the background or the motives of the characters.

In sum, this is not a traditional JRPG like Final Fantasy or Lost Odyssey, it is more similar to strategy games like Valkyria Chronicles. Also if you want fast paced, action oriented, quick resolution combats (e.g. Tales of Vesperia) then this is probably not the game for you. If you like turn based strategy/rpg games (Jagged Alliance, Front Mission, Valkyria Chronicles, etc) with a lot of depth then I believe you will like this game.

*** Some Combat Tips and Tricks ***

In ROF, you have access to the full combat from the beginning (opposite of Final Fantasy XIII from what I hear). However, as you play you get a better understanding of the mechanics and the tactics. In other words, the combat opens up naturally and always stays fresh. Below are some tips but I believe half of the fun is discovering them. If you feel confused, then these might help. Also the guy next to the billboard in the guild gives one new tip each chapter. Always talk to him.

-The letter next to the enemy bar indicates which one of your characters the enemy is aiming.
-The enemy won't shoot until the end of the turn (even if their aiming bar is full) unless they are aiming at the character you are moving. If they are aiming at the character you are moving, they'll shoot in real time when their aim gets full.
-During hero runs you are invincible and also you can regenerate more because the turn lasts longer (depending on the distance). However, that also means enemies will have longer time to aim at characters.
-The circular green bar around the enemy is their equipment health (weapon, armor, shield etc). You will not be able to damage their body until you create/find an opening. The green bar is not always a full circle and if that's the case, you can make a hero run (or walk around while they are aiming at somebody else) and shoot when you have the right angle to hit the body. Or if you jump during hero run you randomly hit all body parts, you might get some hits to the body even if they are shielded.
-Getting rid of the enemy parts (equipment) will give you materials for upgrades.
-Try to set up the tri-attacks in a long range. The longer the running distance, the more time to shoot (and regenerate).
-You can make a tri-attack even with 1 resonance point. This can be helpful if the distance between the characters is long. You can also use it to move one of your characters to safety if he is going to be shot as soon as you end the turn of the current character.
-Charge acceleration is very important. Try to add barrels as much as you can. Also try to shoot at the highest possible charge to activate the skills.
-Dual wielding helps a lot in the later game(after chapter 10-11). It doubles your damage and chances of activating skills even if the second weapon may reduce some of your stats.
-During a tri-attack, the enemies inside the triangle won't move, the ones on the outside will.

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