Platforms: Switch (reviewed), PC
Futuristic dystopian tales are often known for their poignant stories and action-packed adventures. These stories are sometimes sociopolitical commentaries. Other times they ask “what if” hypothetical questions about morality. I don’t know if Resolutiion is out to do any of that, mostly because its world and lore are so vague and mysterious, but I do know one thing: that vague and mysterious world is an absolute splendor to get lost in.
Developed by the two-brother team at Monolith of Minds, Resolutiion captures the awe-inspiring magic and wonder of games like Journey and Below. The game combines that sense of discovery with gameplay that’s at times a little bit Hyper Light Drifter and a little bit Dark Souls, all the presenting a Metroid-like map. These possible inspirations notwithstanding, the game is still able to stand on its own and provide a unique experience.
There’s a lot of mystery surrounding the world of Resolutiion. The game’s lore remains archaic throughout the entirety of your journey. You never truly understand the world and its history, other than the little bits and pieces of dialogue that indicate this ravaged world is not what it once was. NPCs ramble on nonsensically, talking like corrupted computers. Bosses are equally vague, only commenting on how your character — a killer, apparently — is no longer completely human but rather an augmented being. And the AI that accompanies you and pops up from time to time brings up your character’s constant pain.
If you’re looking for a clear-cut narrative that spells everything out for you, Resolutiion may leave you scratching your head. Hell, the game doesn’t even really spell some stuff out for you. Rather than focus on a deep and thought-provoking plot, the game creates a more abstract and purposely minimalist story. Admittedly, there’s something about that indeterminate story that actually helps to build the game’s world.
Progression in Resolutiion is largely exploration-based. You’ll move around the different areas and talk to NPCs, open new routes, and unlock bits and pieces of the map. There’s a bit of backtracking, and the map, which can be confusing at first, has a Metroidvania-esque design to it.
Combat is on the slower-paced side. While the action consists of hack-and-slash mechanics, you can’t just button mash your way through enemy encounters. Doing so will guarantee your swift demise. Instead, combat in Resolutiion takes a more Dark Souls-y approach, requiring you to stand back, wait, and observe your enemies’ attack patterns before going in for a quick slash attack.
Along the way you’ll obtain new abilities such as blasters and dashes. These are great for both offensive and defensive purposes while engaging enemies, but you have to be mindful of your energy meter, which depletes quite rapidly. Even if you’re not taking liberties with your energy-based abilities, the meter will still drain quickly with just a couple blaster shots, adding more to the game’s deliberate, strategic pacing.
A Gorgeous Dystopia
Resolutiion is the type of game that relies heavily on building tension and emotion through its atmosphere. Nowhere is that clearer than in the game’s audiovisual design. The game’s minimalist pixel art is rich with color and style. Bold orange landscapes sit in front of hot pink backgrounds. High-tech facilities are but mere dilapidated remnants and feel like they were once bustling, now left to house only the ghosts of sentient AI beings. There’s a lot to the dreary future world of Resolutiion that will likely remind you of works such as Blade Runner and Dune.
If there’s one thing to nitpick about regarding the graphics of Resolutiion, it’s the character designs. They’re okay, and bosses are interesting enough, but the more common enemies and NPCs are too small and not detailed enough. As a result, they can look a bit generic, which is in stark contrast to the game’s gorgeous landscapes and eye-catching architecture.
Monolith of Minds coined the phrase “badassemotional cyberpunk soundtrack” when describing the music of Resolutiion. While at first it might be difficult to match a distinct sound with that descriptor, you’ll quickly understand what the developers meant once you play through the game. The music is catchy and electronic, but much like the graphics, it helps to infuse life into the world itself. I can’t help but think about Blade Runner 2049 and its humming, droning beats that played as K flies his hovercar across barren planes, crowded cities, and cluttered junkyards.
Unfortunately, despite the great music, there are some audio bugs that pop up from time to time. Music will cut out unexpectedly for a split second, especially when you enter new areas. It’s not a huge deal, but it’s impossible to ignore, especially when the music is just so good.
Resolutiion isn’t for everyone. It looks like a fast-paced action game, but it’s not that. It looks like it could have some deeper meaning, but, at least for me, it didn’t really. That said, the slower pace of the exploration ensures that you take in all of its surreal, post-apocalyptic world, which is truly a sight to behold, vague as it may be. Combat is strategic and challenging, forcing you to think and earn every victory. Resolutiion is as fun to play as it is interesting to behold. Oh, and there’s a giant cat. That’s all I’ll say about that.