Resolutiion

A game by Monolith of Minds for PC, Mac, Linux, and Switch, originally released in 2020.
Many indie games take their inspirations from AAA genre representatives like Super Metroid or Dark Souls, but sometimes indie developers take their inspirations from other indies, with many precision platformers using design cues from Super Meat Boy, and may action-adventure games taking their lead from Cave Story. And now we have a game that takes a page out of the design of Hyper Light Drifter (a Hyperlight-like?) with its visually complex pixellated game world, bright neon colors (albeit more subdued), and a mixture of stylish hacky-slashy action and secondary projectile weapons.


In Resolutiion, you take on the role of a person named Valor, an assassin who has been awakened by an artificial intelligence known as Alibii, and she becomes Valor’s companion on his journey. Valor is missing vital chunks of his memory, and this absence appears to be intentional as Alibii describes these missing memories as being painful, although this also calls Alibii’s motives into question since Valor has little choice but to blindly follow her lead.


Memory recovery is one of the game’s primary goals, but the search for these memories and any sort explanation as to what is happening in the world is told disjointedly. The player interacts with numerous NPC’s in the various regions of the world, each offering some limited context to the goings-on, and many of these characters speak in ways that purposely obfuscate the narrative, which reduces the weight of the game's initial premise. This is unfortunate, as the game is heavily focused on non-combat exploration and interaction, but these interactions are rarely meaningful.


In combat, the player has access to a 3-hit combo consisting of a right-handed slash, a left-handed slash, and then a two-handed slash. This combo repeats for as long as the button is held, resulting in a flurry of strikes. That said, effective combat centers around hit and run strategies, as the player will want to get in and deal damage, and then move away to avoid retaliatory strikes. Often, the player will move in on an enemy and hit it once or twice, and then run away for a couple of seconds before repeating the process, and this tactic works for most bosses as well.


Most of the game’s progress centers around the navigation of an expansive landscape, with some paths inaccessible to the player until certain upgrades are discovered. While the visuals of the game world are stunning, the actual layout of most areas is confusing to say the least. Many routes lead to dead ends, and often the visuals make it difficult to determine what is an open pathway and what is a barrier, leading the player to press against walls to search for a way through, or possibly bounce back and forth between the game world and the map.


The map is somewhat difficult to navigate since it just shows rough outlines of each area, but it at least displays doorways and save points, as well as which rooms physically connect to one another. The map is made more confusing by the design of the game world which connects many rooms by way of elevators, making it more difficult for the player to make a connection to the actual geospatial layout of the world. The map is displays stacked rooms that are on floors above or below the player, but often the player is seeking a specific point on the map with no clear way of knowing how to reach it.


Some paths are blocked to the player pending upgrades, but these upgrades often highlight the difficulties in parsing the environment rather than assisting the player with making his way through it. For instance, the first navigational tool the player acquires is a beam that allows him to see objects that are otherwise invisible, but the design of the game world already makes it difficult to determine where the player can and cannot travel. This requires players to find areas that look like they should be traversable, and then aim the beam at those areas in order to rebuild them. There are some visual cues to lead the player to these locations, but these are sometimes hard to spot given the complexity of the visual design.


Another tool that opens new areas is a cube that expands and disintegrates certain types of objects that look like masses of steel. However, sometimes these masses of steel are part of larger structures, and it’s not enough to just stand next to them and trigger the disintegration device. Instead, the player may need to clear one or two of these obstructions, only to find that his path still remains blocked, which requires that he run around the environment and come at the obstruction from another angle to completely clear it. Visually, these appear to be overlapping clusters of steel mashed together so it’s not always clearly communicated that the player cannot destroy the obstructions without additional action.


In addition to hacking and slashing enemies, the player also unlocks weapons, the first of which is a 3-way shot that allows the player to strike enemies from a distance. This weapon, along with all other items, draws from a secondary meter that refills over time. As such, the player cannot rely strictly on gunfire to see him through. That said, hit and run tactics are often effective with guns as well, since the player can fire a couple of shots and then move out of range of projectile-firing enemies while he waits for his weapon to recharge. Many environmental navigation tools also have combat uses, such as the disintegration cube that also acts as a short range explosive.


The player’s dash maneuver is unlocked early in his adventure, and this too draws from the secondary energy meter. Unlike many other games that offer a short dash with a cooldown period, this game allows the player to dash continuously until the meter runs out. With this maneuver, the player can quickly escape danger, dodge projectiles, or move in to attack enemies before they have a chance to respond. When combined with a melee-based combat approach, skilled players can slash their way through rooms full of enemies at high speeds, or simply run past them. Tougher foes are those that fire projectiles, making it difficult for players to get up close, and requiring strict timing or the use of projectile weapons. Since projectile weapons and the dash maneuver draw from the same meter, the player must be careful not to paint himself into a corner by being overly aggressive while using guns.


Much of the game sees the player exploring enemy free areas, or areas with enemies that can be dodged if the player simply needs to move from one side of the room to the other. There are also several spectacle enemies that pursue the player through the environment and cause damage if they make contact, such as a desert area with a creature that appears to be a gigantic subterranean kitty. These lead to some pulse-pounding sprints, but these chase sequences can also be frustrating when the player experiences difficulty determining where the open paths are, and which paths lead to dead ends.


Boss battles are more challenging and require the player to be mindful of his movements in order to avoid attacks, while also looking for opportunities to move in and deliver strikes of his own. In most of the game, the player regularly encounters crates that may be broken to reveal health restoratives or currency, and so health conservation isn’t terribly important. However, boss encounters are another story, as the player can generally only sustain a handful of hits before being destroyed, so sloppy play will result in death. Death can be doubly punishing throughout the game, as checkpoints are often placed a great distance away from one another and sometimes are not placed along your direct route.


Visually, the game is incredibly detailed, with a wide range of muted colors, and each area has a distinct visual theme. Many enemies bleed neon blood when attacked, and some of them can be destroyed with brutal finishing blows, occasionally being sliced in half, gutted, or dismembered. There are also lots of friendly characters and nonaggressive robots that the player is free to attack as well. This adds some weight to the experience, as the player questions whether he should possibly be merciful, especially given that he does not truly know what side his character is on (but there doesn’t appear to be a consequence for either choice). The music for the game is generally somber, with a focus on piano and synth, and musical themes change as the player explores each area.



2D CRED
Resolutiion was developed over the course of five years by Monolith of Minds, based in Mainz, Germany. The studio was founded in by a pair of brothers: Richi and G√ľnther Beyer. Music for the game was composed by Gerrit Wolf.


The game was published by Deck 13, developer of The Surge and Venetica, and publisher of Flat Heroes, CrossCode, and To Hell with Hell, among other titles.


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