Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Deck13 Spotlight
Developer: Monolith of Minds
Release Date: May 28, 2020


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Switch Review - 'Resolutiion'

by Cody Medellin on Oct. 15, 2020 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

Resolutiion is an action adventure, a reminiscence and a true homage to the classics of the SNES era.

A dystopian future is a common theme in games nowadays. The current climate aside, it is easy for anyone to imagine a world that's gone wrong, and it's great narrative fodder. Throw in some cyberpunk elements, and the idea becomes even more intriguing. Based on those two things alone, Resolutiion should be an intriguing prospect — and it is, provided you can deal with some of its quirks.

Resolutiion casts players in the role of Valor, a man who has traded in most of his human parts for cybernetic ones so he can be an effective killer. He's an amnesiac, and the only thing that keeps him going is a voice that he eventually discovers is coming from an AI named Alibii. He's given a mission to deliver this AI to the heart of the world's ruling empire, but that AI has a second objective: restore Valor's memory.

That's what we think the story is about. From the beginning, the game is vague with details. You start as a child playing soccer in a park before the game suddenly switches to you as a grown-up in a bleak future. You only get hints about what's going on and your past, but you never get clear answers. By the time you get close to the end of the game, you have more questions about who you are and what you did compared to when you began the journey — unless you were diligent enough to look at every nook and cranny to piece together the backstory. Depending on how you feel about endless mystery, you're either going to love the game's concept or stop caring about it.

That sense of vagueness also comes through in the gameplay. For the most part, you'll periodically be given waypoints on a map and, in typical Metroid fashion, nothing is filled out until you open up the pathways with tools like an instant ladder or bombs . You're given no further direction, so everything that happens afterward is a complete surprise to the player. The good news is that each area has at least one interesting thing going for it, whether it's giant sandworms that become an essential means of fast transport or a large cat that devours you if you get too close. It can be a little absurd, but the fantasy elements are a nice contrast to the cyberpunk aesthetic, giving the game a unique identity in the crowded Metroidvania genre.

While the interesting areas give you plenty of reason to explore, there's still fighting to be done, and combat is where the game takes a detour from the genre. Mashing on your attack button lets you unleash melee combos, but you can only use your claws, since you don't gain other melee weapons. You have a gun that fires in three directions, and the controls mimic a twin-stick shooter, but you'll stand still every time you shoot. You gain combat abilities later on, and since everything but your claws uses up stamina, you'll treat the game like Dark Souls, where fighting means lots of dodging and waiting for openings in enemy defense while managing your stamina meter.

That cautious fighting style only works for bosses, since those fights often take place in closed arenas with no chance of getting recovery items. In non-boss fights, the consequences for death are nonexistent, since checkpoints are numerous and enemies stay dead. Kill half of the enemies in an area before dying, and you'll only need to vanquish the remaining foes when you return — a task that's made easier since they all retain the damage that you had previously inflicted on them. This allows button-mashers and those unskilled in dodging to survive via brute force, but it also does them a disservice since bosses aren't as kind.

One fascinating element you'll note is that, with the exception of bosses, you can toy with the lives of everyone you meet. Innocent NPCs can be attacked and killed if you wish, and while you will be forced to fight enemies, you can disable them to the point where they are incapacitated as you either initiate the killing blow or leave them alone. The game doesn't do much with this aspect, so choosing to eliminate everyone or spare them is up to you.

An annoying thing was the positioning of the health and stamina meter. The desire to have a relatively HUD-free screen meant that both meters, stacked on top of one another, would be seen around your character. The bad news is that these meters aren't placed directly above you, where they would be easy to see. For some reason, the meters are floating away from you, either above or below and to the right or left, as if it were a secondary character or a floating pet. Whether you're in the heat of battle or in an area with plenty of elements acting as the foreground, those meters can easily become lost. With many fights relying on good meter management, this design decision adds some unnecessary difficulty.

No matter what you may think about the rest of the game, the presentation is excellent. The graphics have a skinny pixel style that was seen in early indie hits like McPixel and Superbrothers: Swords & Sworcery. That lanky character style does benefit from smooth animations, while the environments are awash in neon shades and a great amount of detail. The throwback style means that the performance is steady throughout, so don't expect any slowdown. The audio is where things get more interesting, as the soundtrack adopts a melancholy synth style that is appropriate for the game setting, and it sounds so good that you won't mind the lack of voices or sparse use of audio effects.

Resolutiion is going to appeal to players who can accept the game's vagueness in both the gameplay and story. Players would also need to appreciate wild difficulty swings with a serviceable combat system in a setting that can sometimes be described as a fever dream. It's certainly not going to be a huge hit, but there's enough here to appeal to those who are looking for something different.

Score: 7.0/10

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