Why Resonance of Fate Is the Most Underrated JRPG of This Gen

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Resonance of Fate made substantial improvements to the JRPG genre by introducing entirely original battle and exploration systems, unprecedented control over your character’s appearance (for JRPGs, that is) and relative freedom from linear gameplay.  Despite said innovations Resonance of Fate was met with mixed reviews. Why was Resonance of Fate overlooked and why does it deserve your attention? Game Blog Girl is here to answer those questions!

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There is more to the battle mechanics than the explanation I have provided but the only thing you *really* need to know is that incredibly acrobatic John Woo-style gun kata is possible.

The Game In a Nutshell

In Resonance of Fate (aka “End of Eternity” in Japan) you play as three characters, Vashyron, Leanne and Zephyr, who reside in little township on a gigantic structure towering far above the Earth’s surface. They’re living in a dystopian future as “Hunters” and undertake contract missions which usually entail traveling to various cities on the gigantic tower and defeating baddies. How do you defeat those baddies? With guns.

Your characters each have three weapon skills which are each leveled up individually: Hand Gun, Machine Gun and Thrown. The level of each weapon creates the overall level of your character (e.g. Hand Gun = lvl 3, Machine Gun= lvl 2 and Thrown = lvl 1 results in a lvl 6 character). Each weapon type has different functions but basically it has one of two purposes: either to inflict “scratch” or “direct damage.” Scratch damage is essentially pre-damage you inflict on your enemies. That is, an enemy’s health is not affected until a weapon type that deals direct damage is used (i.e. Hand Gun or Thrown). In other words, you can’t kill an enemy with just scratch damage. Why wouldn’t you only inflict direct damage then, you might ask. Simply because using a combination of scratch and direct damage is more effective in battle than using direct damage alone.

Every character can wield any of those three weapon types, but you’ll need to accommodate to each character’s carrying capacity as different weapons have different weights and upgrades such as scopes and stocks will also add weight (additionally, an item box must be equipped if you wish to use potions or antidotes which adds weight as well).

Each character can choose either to perform a standard attack or a Hero action (by spending a bezel, which are allotted at the start of each battle; just think of bezels as Hero action points). You’ll want to perform Hero actions often as they make your character immune to damage, speed up weapon charge times and initiate those sweet gun kata battles. Your characters are not safeguarded from direct damage if you do not have at least one bezel so you must be careful not to use every last one, if possible. You switch between the three characters in a given turn and each character’s turn ends either when they run out of action points or when their Hero action is completed.

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Dreary? Yes. Ugly? No.

The Criticisms & Why They’re Wrong

Criticism #1: Too difficult

The grinding in Resonance of Fate is no more intense than other games in its genre in my opinion but I can see where people get frustrated. If you do not spend the time to learn the mechanics of the game, you will undoubtedly be punished.  The battle system is more complex than traditional turn-based gameplay and requires some strategy. You need to master the battle system in order to be successful. Additionally, most reviewers cited that there in an incredibly steep learning curve. This is probably due to the fact that Resonance of Fate contains both elements of traditional JRPGs and strategy games therefore giving the impression of an exceptionally intricate JRPG battle system (or, conversely, a simpler strategy game battle system). Which brings us to the next criticism…

Criticism #2: Battle System is too complex

The combat system is a mixture of real-time and turn-based formats similar to Valkyria Chronicles so combat is more complicated than one would expect from a JRPG. Many reviewers (even positive reviews such as this one) asserted that the battle system requires such devotion that only hardcore RPG fans would be able to derive any joy from it. The battle system is intricate and complex compared to other JRPGs. If you play and enjoy strategy games in any capacity you will find that the battle system does not require unconditional love of all things JRPG. Although it probably doesn’t hurt.

Criticism #3: Aesthetically unappealing

Resonance of Fate is not groundbreaking in terms of graphical detail and many were turned off by its dreary mood and monochromatic environments. I find those criticisms are unwarranted: the game’s graphics are not bad enough to hinder gameplay and the game takes place in a future-gone-wrong-sci-fi theocracy so it’s extensive use of grey serves a thematic purpose.

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The greyed out areas of the map cannot be traversed until you spend hexes.

Reasons Why It Deserves More Acclaim

Reason #1: Satisfying battle system

The battle system is truly unique. Combat requires you to think more than a standard RPG and its depth provides you with engaging, strategic fun. This JRPG truly innovates in a formally stagnant genre by combining turn-based and real-time gameplay mechanics and the result is rewarding fun.

Reason #2: Unique exploration system

You explore the game by attaining, through purchase or battle, hexes. These hexes unlock certain areas in the world map based on color (see above). The hexes come in a variety of shapes as well which makes traveling the world map more like a mini puzzle game.

Reason #3: Customization

Resonance of Fate allows you to festoon your characters with a variety of clothing items that can be found in the world or purchased at the clothing store. And we’re not talking about just switching between preset outfits: you can change eye and hair color, mix and match blouses and bottoms and even rock rad shades. The customization does not end with appearance either! As I mentioned earlier, each character’s weapons can be upgraded by adding things such as scopes and stocks to them.

Reason #4: Nolan North is in it

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As Vashyron.

No more explanation needed.

-gamebloggirl

Do you think Resonance of Fate is underrated? What’s the most underrated JRPG in your opinion? Tell me in the comments or tweet @gamebloggirl!

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  • Gary Lane

    Truly underrated! Like Nier, this game is quite amazing! Thank you bloggirl and Tri Ace

    • gamebloggirl

      I still haven’t had the chance to play Nier. I’ll definitely need to get around to that!
      Have you played FFXIII-2? tri-Ace collaborated on that one as well. Seriously underrated, too. It’s definitely worth checking out.