In our (very enjoyable) tour of Sega’s offices this week we were given the privilege of some hands on time with Sega’s highly anticipated new RPG, Resonance of Fate. For those of you who are out of the loop, Resonance of Fate is a strategy RPG from developers Tri-Ace coming out for the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 March 16th.
Resonance of Fate uses an interesting strategy formula based heavily on pathing and quick reaction time which is previously unseen in the genre. Players can move characters about and attack with them freely, but this often can result in serious damage as anytime your character is in motion the enemy is free to move as well. Most of the combat will require extensive use of the invincible attacks, in which you set a path which the character will follow in a straight line and can attack from. During this time the player can control the character’s shooting and jumping only.
The Invincible State attacks are the acrobatic ones which you’ve probably seen frequently in trailers, and are the core of the tactics of the game. The path is extremely important, and provides the majority of the game’s strategy. Levels are littered with obstacles and elevated objects, which must be moved around or leapt over to advance your character. Of course, aside from leaping over obstacles, your path is also determines from which direction (or elevation) your attacks will be hitting your enemies. Some enemies are week from above, some in the chest, others behind. Careful planning and execution is essential to success. In addition, crossing paths with other characters will build up a resonance and allow you to perform a devastating resonance attack in which all characters can attack everything within a perimeter with powerful blows.
On the action side of things, Resonance of Fate depends on some quick reflexes. You can change targets quickly and shoot multiple enemies while running a path. The more you can strike, the better, obviously. The most important part of this is scratch damage, which can drain HP bars quickly, but not kill, allowing for even weak standard damage attacks to finish off your foes. Timing is also important, as running your character down a preset path for these attacks will require use of an Invincible State gauge, which can only be regenerated by downing an enemy or dealing a particularly effective blow.
If all this sounds pretty cool, that’s because it is. There’s quite a bit of strategy to be found in the combat system, and the amount of emphasis on tactics and pathing is similar to that found in Valkyria Chronicles. Unlike Valkyria Chronicles, there’s some emphasis on action and quick reaction time, but it’s not a particularly steep learning curve. It won’t be long before you’re performing cool combos and nailing enemies’ weak-points from acrobatic aerial strikes. That said, the game certainly seems challenging, especially on bosses, but fortunately continues are available if you fail. Of course, as with any good JRPG, there’s more here than the combat.
Resonance of Fate utilizes a fairly standard overworld system, but with a twist. The overworld is divided into grids, with each space in the grid representing an area of the world you can enter and explore. Within each grid are towns, battlefields, hidden items, an arena, etc. Exploration is encouraged, and more of the grid can be revealed as you play. Uncovered areas of the world map often reveal hidden items such as new clothing and weapons for your characters.
Along with the exploration is of course the important JRPG staple of towns! That’s right, there are towns. Within towns are shops. Yes, they can be done, even on HD consoles. The town shown in the demo was fairly robust, and included crafting, clothes shops, and your home base where your three characters could relax, interact, and change their clothing. Your weapons (all guns in this game), can be customized extensively with a variety of attachments, which can also be done in town. In addition you can enter the arena for free practice and experience.
On the presentation side, each character can have their appearance customized completely, from hair color down to clothes and even their eyes. The items to complete these customizations are found while playing the game, and offer hundreds of options per character. The graphics were good, if not amazing, but the cutscenes run on the game engine which is nice, and the visual changes you make to your characters will show up in the cutscenes. The audio seemed good, for the little we heard of it. Fans will recognize many of the English voice actors from Valkyria Chronicles, but if you prefer them Japanese voices are included as well. The music is very enjoyable so far, and will please most fans of JRPG-style music.
Overall I’m very excited about Resonance of Fate, and I hope fans of strategy RPGs will give it a look. It seems to particularly appeal to those who enjoyed the fresh and active strategy style of Valkyria Chronicles, and looks to be a unique and enjoyable entry that has what it takes to stand out in its genre. Look for our review of the game later this month.