Resonance is a cancelled action horror game that was being developed by canadian company Neocell Factory. Based in Montreal, Canada, the studio was born from a group of former developers from Vircom Interactive (a MMORPG developer) after its closure around 2002. They started work on the project that would evolve into Resonance and as it grew they were soon joined by other veterans from such big names as Ubisoft and Gameloft. Unfortunately the team was closed down around 2006, with Resonance being their only known game. It was planned to be released initially for the original Xbox in late 2004, although later ports of the game for the PS2 and the Gamecube were also being considered.
Resonance was conceived as a third-person RPG with heavy elements of survival horror, but with the developer determined to distance it from the fixed camera angles and tank controls that other games in the horror genre had been known for up to that point. Work on it initially started in the form of a mod for Neverwinter Nights in 2002, a part-time project during the developer’s early stages. As the game grew, so did the team along with it, eventually evolving into what would become known as Resonance.
From what we can piece together from a few recovered interviews and the game’s long-since defunct official website, Resonance would have been set in a dark fantasy kingdom, inspired by the Renaissance in theme and design, where the age of reason has only begun and science and religion are starting to clash. This conflict between the spiritual and the rational was to be a major theme of the game’s storyline.
With that in mind, Resonance would put the player in the shoes of Faye Wynter, a woman with two very different heritages. Faye was born with a noble standing through her father, a knight close to the King. Her mother, however, was a witch who was eventually caught and burned alive by the Inquisition. Faye’s father stood by powerless as this happened, which drove him to commit suicide. Now an orphan, Faye was taken in by the King himself, and eventually grew up to become a royal investigator, with a talent for diplomacy due to her noble origins and training, but also possessing powers inherited from her mother’s side that she does not fully comprehend. After being sent to investigate the disappearance of the king’s son and an assassination plot put together by a neighbouring kingdom, she embarks on a journey during which she not only has to face a world of danger and human corruption but also begins to discover her true origins, all while being hunted by the Inquisition.
Gameplay-wise, Resonance would have been action-oriented, adding further to the mix of genres. In addition to the puzzle-solving commonly found in survival horror titles, it was to feature open-ended levels with many side quests, a large selection of melee weapons as well as firearms, equippable armors, combo-based combat with three different fighting styles and access to around a dozen special powers. The even more special power related to what gave the game its title, the Resonance, was promised to be something impressive, although the developers seemed to want to keep the details of it a secret.
The intention of Neocell Factory was to make the experience highly customizable and different for everyone that played Resonance. As Faye gained levels, the player would have to make choices regarding what powers they would be given. They would also be rewarded with points used to upgrade different abilities. Faye would too improve her skill with individual weapons the more she used them, starting off as weak the first time she picked one up and eventually improving damage dealt as she became more proficient with it. Enhancing and modifying weapons with special items found in the world was also going to be a feature, as well as a weapon crafting system.
It seems things got complicated at Neocell Factory, however. Resonance was initially announced with a release date of late 2004, exclusively for the Xbox. But who was to publish it remains unknown. A comment left on a trailer for the game that was posted on Youtube claims that the game was eventually finished several months later but it ended up going unpublished as Xbox titles were put aside in favor of the Xbox 360, which was about to be released at the time. The timeline on the official website seems to confirm this, as an update posted in February of 2006 reveals that Resonance had finally reached its final beta stage. Screenshots showing how the game had evolved since 2004 were also posted, but other information on the different characters and other aspects of the game, seem to have been lost to time.
With no way to publish the game they worked hard on for four years, it would be safe to assume that Neocell Factory had to end up closing. If it was indeed finished, hope remains that one day this project can be finally released to the public by someone from the former Neocell Factory team.
Article by António Pedro Pinto
Thanks to Akhamesh and Matt Gander from www.gamesasylum.com for the contributions!