Quality over quantity is easier said than done when it comes to video games, and Resonance of the Ocean’s valiant effort to do just that is, in a nutshell, admirable. It doesn’t offer anything but a quick (almost too quick) point-and-click experience on mobile, but it doesn’t really have to – the game would likely lose its appeal if it were anything longer.
Of course, while the game drove its point home in my opinion, will it have the same effect on you?
Table of contents:
RESONANCE OF THE OCEAN VISUALS
Personally, the hand-drawn visuals of Resonance of the Ocean are what drew me to the game in the first place. There’s just something innately melancholic about the art style here – how the grass sways softly with the seaside breeze and how the emptiness of the shore punctuates the solitude of the main protagonist. Whether that solitude is intentional or not remains to be seen, but the illustrated effect adds to the nostalgic – if not outright lonely – atmosphere.
The narrative here is entirely a mystery – even the nameless boy is clueless about his own circumstances. All he knows is that a faint melody is echoing across the waves, and he’s inevitably drawn to the sound.
THE GAMEPLAY OF RESONANCE OF THE OCEAN
With that singular vision in mind, you’ll help the island boy gather scraps that have washed up on the shore to craft your own makeshift instruments in an attempt to answer the call of the ocean. Eerie yet intriguing sounds reverberate across the ocean every so often, and you’ll have to listen carefully to try and match those sounds with the items you pick up from the shore.
This makes for an intuitive point-and-click experience, as all you have to do is choose random items littered throughout the small seaside landscape and combine them to mimic the sounds resounding all around you. Once you’ve got everything you need, you’ll simply present these instruments to the lighthouse jutting out toward the sea and play your tune.
WHAT’S THE APPEAL?
While the so-called sound puzzles do get progressively more difficult, the short experience doesn’t allow any room for frustration. What did get to me while I was playing was the mystery surrounding the actual place. There’s a run-down cottage by the sea toward the latter part of the game, and inside, you go through remnants of a life left behind – a recipe book with crossed-out ingredients, water in the sink, a shirt left out to dry . While the place looks abandoned, someone had once made this place home, and the elusive narrative here is what piqued my interest more than the mysterious sounds from across the sea.
In particular, there’s a diary entry on a shelf that reveals snippets of the house’s previous tenants. I won’t reveal exactly what was written on the worn-out pages, but suffice it to say that something led to the author’s demise, and it’s up to you to piece together what might have happened.
Overall, Resonance of the Ocean is a too-short experience filled with soundscapes meant to relax you. There are no save functions here as the game is that short, but it’s easy to breeze through the whole title in one sitting. As with games that successfully use their brevity to their advantage, this one will leave lingering questions in the air after the credits roll, and while there’s nothing groundbreaking about the whole experience, it’s a fantastic way to pass the time if you’re looking for a way to ease into the new year.