Such facile contrivances are also used to create excuses for the characters to solve puzzles in the game, something that's sure to break any sense of involvement and continuity. At one point, for instance, you need to convince a security expert to hand over some files about a vault he built, but he refuses to reveal his clients' private information because of his ethical concerns and his understanding that it might mean his livelihood if his lack of discretion were to become public knowledge.
Stop thinking and start doing!
However, if you can solve the mysteries of some farkakta "puzzle box" that just happens to be sitting in his office, well then you're a kindred spirit, and the character instantly forgets any ethical or commercial concerns and spills the beans. That kind of about-face characterization simply doesn't ring true, even in a genre where you have to expect some contrivances to work in puzzles.
And speaking of characters who don't ring true, Resonance features characters--both primary and secondary--that seem designed to fill some kind of stereotype grab bag. At one point at the beginning of the game, you run into Saul, a vaudevillian caricature of the "New York Jew," complete with a terrible approximation of a Crown Heights accent and a bad case of logorrhea. You get to play as Anna, a Latina who conspicuously pronounces anything Spanish-sounding as Spanish-ly as possible, despite the fact that flashbacks to her childhood show Anna and her family speaking English.
Remember, it's not a real stakeout without greasy hamburgers.
And then there's Ray, the only black character in the game, who trots out the expected "What do you mean 'you people?'" at one point, just in case you weren't thinking about his race for a few minutes. The problem isn't that these moments are offensive, but that they demonstrate the degree to which Resonance's script relies on cliches to fill in for real characterization and personal development.
It's not just the characters, though, that fall flat. Much of the dialogue is also weak, both in and of itself and with regard to how it fits in with Resonance's scenes. One particularly egregious example of this will stick out in your mind: After Anna has witnessed the gruesome and traumatic death of her uncle, she and another character engage in banter that breaks the sense of gravitas Anna's experiences have established and replaces it with a tonally obtuse taste of silliness. This is also one of Resonance's many examples of unnecessary dialogue, which adds little to your enjoyment and just ends up padding the length of the game. Of course, padding the length might well be the plan, because Resonance ends up being fairly short (an experienced adventure gamer should be able to complete it in six hours or less, despite the padding).
A low point in anyone's life.
The weakness of the writing is a shame in Resonance's case, because apart from that, the game doesn't have a lot wrong with it. Sure, the graphics max out at 640x480 and aren't going to win any 2D animation awards, but the music is solid, the voice acting (with the exception of Saul) is decent, and the gameplay brings several eminently cool innovations to the genre. The puzzles, both the traditional, graphic-adventure ones and the "Professor Layton" ones, are sometimes clever and grow well out of the storyline without feeling contrived (as in one sequence where you need to figure out how to realign a document retrieval device) and are sometimes lame and artificial (as in one sequence where you need to get all your characters through a series of powerful magnets).
But in adventure games, at least, writing is paramount. The mild positives of Resonance are simply outweighed by the major negative of its poor writing. It's both surprising and disappointing that this is the case, given the strength of Gemini Rue, but hopefully the designers and writers at Wadjet Eye will snap back to form on their next game.
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