Cyberpunk as a genre feels increasingly relevant with each passing day. One might even go as far as to say that we’re living out the early stages of a cyberpunk society. This thematic relevance to modern life — discussions of corporate power, ubiquitous technology, environmental devastation — makes cyberpunk a particularly popular genre among game designers. This is clear when you get just a few samples of the writing in Resolutiion.
One character, heavily augmented, refers to a group of people deemed enemies of the Infinite Empire as the “Western Tribes,” only for a forced update to his software corrects the term to “terrorists,” stripping this group of associations with indigenous peoples and rendering them totally other — not to mention dangerous.
This disturbing portrayal of the evolution of software updates sits within an experience characterized by quirky humor, pulse-pounding music, ruminations on the past, and instances of extreme violence. If that sounds like a fun, chaotic mess, then you’re beginning to understand Resolutiion.
- What is Resolutiion? It’s an isometric action-adventure game set in a dystopian cyberpunk universe. You are a mysterious killer guided by an AI, trying to piece together the remnants of your memories as you traverse a strange, bleak world dominated by the Infinite Empire.
- Reviewed On: PC
- Price: $19.99
- Developer: Monolith of Minds
- Publisher: Deck 13, Mayflower Entertainment
- Release Date: May 28, 2020
- Website: https://resolutiion.monolithofminds.com/
Running with Blades
A look at the protagonist of Resolutiion, how he runs, how he moves, you might get the impression that the game’s combat is very fast-paced and fluid. While this can be the case sometimes, the greater portion of my experience with the game revealed a system that emphasizes enemy attack patterns, the use of good positioning, and the judicious use of your multipurpose energy, which acts both as ammunition for your gun and as juice for sprinting, among other things. Some scraps, especially those fought at low health, can be downright methodical in the way they unfold.
The aforementioned energy system works to the game’s advantage and its detriment. While it successfully imbues combat with a tactical feel, it also feels frustrating to employ the sprint (which is often used as more of a dash) for such a short time before energy depletes. Similarly, it’s not visually clear how much energy the shotgun takes with each blast, so you’re frequently left not knowing whether you have another shot before you need to wait again. These moments are relatively minor in their overall impact, but it’s worth noting that the game often struggles to find its rhythm and pull you into it. There are just too many stops and starts to make the progression of many fights feel wholly satisfying.
That said, once you start encountering faster enemies, the combat picks up in excitement, not to mention cathartic violence. Working out enemy attack patterns, which weapons will be effective against them, tactics and maneuvers to create an opening, these are all rewarding aspects of Resolutiion’s combat. Also interesting is the choice to have almost every enemy, upon being defeated, fall incapacitated and at the player’s mercy. Thus, just about every kill is a conscious choice, an execution, rather than an act of pure self-defense. This has story implications of course, but it also recontextualizes the violence and helps lend a certain weight to combat.
Gigantic Cat, Talking Bunny, Evil Hot Dog
The world of Resolutiion is roughly equal parts grim, funny, and downright weird. Smiley balloons float around amiably, only to rush you down and puff itself out while trying to kill you. A giant worm creature blinks at you from its burrow, looking oddly cute, only to burst forth and try to devour you moments later.
Pair the peculiar visuals with absurd, satirical writing, and you start to get a sense for this world and its dynamics. And whether it’s uncovering the secrets of the Infinite Empire or merely chatting with local fauna, exploring this world feels continually rewarding.
Things become a little more muddled with the story of the main character. There are some interesting encounters that establish Valor’s lost memories, and some enemies speak to you as if you’ve met before. This is an intriguing hook, and there are certainly some interesting moments to flesh out this story element. Still, the character’s process of remembering and how that ties into the larger plot remains vague for hours. Thus, a lot of the potential emotional investment in the story is sapped by basically lacking a protagonist for so much of its runtime. Lacking memories or motivation beyond what’s supplied by the AI, it’s difficult connecting with Valor’s journey.
Aiding the overall feel Resolutiion and its world is the one-two punch of the visuals and the soundtrack. The soundtrack gives combat and traversal a frenetic atmosphere, heightening the excitement of a given encounter. The imagery of the game, meanwhile, makes its own contribution to the game’s atmosphere and pacing. The pixel art is colorful, often surreal, and packed with detail that makes you wonder about this world and its inhabitants.
Furthermore, the pacing is aided by the color palettes of these environments, which shift and change frequently enough that your surroundings rarely feel stale. There’s a comprehensive aesthetic running through Resolutiion that really helps tie together the mishmash of style, tone, and atmosphere that developer Monolith of Minds was trying to portray.
Zoom Out: Verdict
Audiovisuals - 8/10
World-building & Atmosphere - 8/10
Combat - 7/10
Storytelling - 6/10
Disorienting, violent, silly, these words all manage to describe Resolutiion. Combat can feel halting and awkward at times, but overall you’re left with a system that’s tense, tactical, and frequently cathartic. The game’s story can be frustrating, intentionally vague as it is. It’s good for building a mystery and drawing the player in that way, but there’s still a lack of emotional investment for a significant portion of the runtime. That said, the audiovisuals and some stellar worldbuilding make the story-world of Resolutiion one that’s well worth exploring.
- Funny, bleak, absurd world
- Stellar aesthetics
- Engaging combat
- Energy system sometimes undermines the flow of combat
- Takes too long to get emotionally invested
- Some awkward traversal here and there, some odd choices in the sound design