Want to know how to grab my interest before I play a game? Show me your main characters performing gun kata against one another to culminate in a post-fight execution. That's what Resonance of Fate did before I even hit start on the controller. It was a bold move to start off with that kind of imagery, to the point where I was wondering if I needed an adult in the room with me for a game as serious business as Resonance of Fate. Even the first cutscene of the game had some heavy tones as one of the main characters, Leanne, attempts suicide by jumping to her death, only to be rescued by — hey, it's that main character that got shot twice in the mouth and lived: Zephyr! After watching Zephyr swing from a rope like Tarzan and save Leanne from certain doom, the line snaps and sends them to an even more certain doom.
However, I knew this game was going to be special when they stretched out their arms, held hands, embraced the beauty of the night sky and the dotted lights below the multi-level city of Basel. The scene was absolutely gorgeous and I felt, just for a moment, they were flying. Witnessing the supposed murder in the opening trailer coupled with the first cutscene after hitting start drew me in, wanting to see where their adventure would lead. Will it be tragedy or happiness they find at the end of this adventure?
Mysteriously, the game takes us "one year and several months later," where we find Leanne and Zephyr enjoying some television on the couch, with Vashyron, the third main character whom I had thought killed Zephyr in the opening, sitting on the stairs, looking over a mission for which they had been requested (all three work as hunters on the fourth level of Basel). Thereon, each chapter works the same way; the main characters interact with the townsfolk and accept a new mission — usually from the Cardinals; reigning aristocrats who live on the top three levels — while the end of each chapter provides insight into the overarching story behind the antagonists' actions.
That said, it's these chapter intro/outro cutscenes that made me greatly fond of the three friends. Their usual interactions are greatly humorous in the beginning, such as when Vashyron turned Leanne's head into a work of art to get on the good side of an overly-enthusiastic artistic Cardinal. Hearing Leanne's shocking reaction, Zephyr barges into the room in a panic, only to find a large flower painted on her face, causing him to laugh, leaving Leanne to her despair. Vashyron's antics don't stop there, as during one scene in a later chapter, as he takes interest under the dress of a stone sculpture of Leanne, only to be met with a vicious kick to the ribs before he gets a glance. Leanne's judgment doesn't always land on Vashyron, as there are some scenes where she doesn't put up with Zephyr's jesting either, slapping him harshly in the back of the head or in one case the face (which, of course, Vashyron accompanies Zephyr with a matching slap). Scenes like this really made the world of Resonance of Fate enjoyable, taking fun in the small things when in reality their world is small and many of the citizens of Basel, protagonists included, suffer greatly in a multitude of ways.
This leads me to the gravity of each character's past. The altercation that should have left Zephyr dead in the opening was a result of his mindless massacre of the people that originally inhabited that building — orphans and young students in pursuit of God. Somehow, he survived through the sacred sign of Zenith, the deus ex machina of Basel. While it would seem wonderful that Zephyr was spared death, he must now live with the guilt of mass murder. This past creeps its way to the surface during one chapter, as the witness to this tragedy, Cardinal Lagerfeld, wishes to forgo his religious faith to exact retribution on Zephyr for his actions. The two battle it out on an abandoned bridge, and Zephyr overpowers Lagerfeld. However, when he lets his guard down after discovering his sister was one of his victims, he is knocked to his back by Lagerfeld. Before the final blow can be dealt, a gunshot rips through Lagerfeld, saving Zephyr's life. Interestingly enough, I thought Vashyron was the one to finish the deed, but it was Leanne that came to the rescue. After walking up to a seated Zephyr, Leanne delivers a swift, hard slap against his head, because it was his intention to die by Lagerfeld's hand, hoping to atone for his past sins. After a short exchange, with sobs choking his words, he says one last thing, "Why am I…why am I even alive?" to which Leanne responds, "If you'd hadn't been there, I'd be dead. Isn't that enough?" The screen then fades to black.
Even though their pasts were plagued by death, they somehow keep trucking through, joking and teasing one another.
Leanne's words call you back to the first cutscene of the game, where she attempted suicide by jumping to her death, only to be saved by Zephyr. This attempt was brought on by Leanne discovering her life was numbered and she would die on her 20th birthday. Rather than allowing fate to take its course, she bravely chooses to end her life on her own terms. In regards to Vashyron's past, well, it isn't too detailed, but he was the only one out of his team to survive an encounter with an evolved human, which would later cause him to believe in miracles (he survived what would be considered a deathblow to the chest).
That's what truly interested me about these three friends; even though their pasts were plagued by death, they somehow keep trucking through, joking and teasing one another. They keep each other in high spirits, get the job done, and make the whole adventure very pleasant. What's even more fascinating about this ensemble is that they all have cheated death at least once. I hope there will be another Resonance of Fate game in the future, but until then, I'll continue playing this one over and over.