Weighing The Options
One topic of debate I have seen quite often in gaming is the idea of “bang for your buck.” With as much of an investment as video game can be nowadays, customers want to know that they’re spending their hard-earned cash on something worthwhile.
While there are many aspects in this debate, one that is discussed often is game time. How many hours of entertainment are you getting for the amount of money you’re investing? Certain games and genres seem to get more scrutiny in this than others. Less than 20 hours of gameplay in an RPG is generally seen as a disappointment, while most don’t expect a puzzle game like Portal to last more than a few hours.
Another variable to consider in these arguments is the replayability of a game. A game that costs $30 and only has 5-10 hours of game time may be unacceptable to some, but if there’s enough incentive or enjoyment to come from replaying the game over and over, then the investment may be more justifiable.
This time vs. cost debate relates strongly to the game that we are looking at today, a recently released Japanese indie game. The game boasts a relatively short runtime with a somewhat steep price tag attached. The question comes down to: is the price of entry worth it?
Resette’s Prescription ~Book of memory, Swaying scale~ was developed by Liz-Arts and published in the West by Sekai Project. The game was released on May 30th, 2016, for PC via Steam.
In the Eye of the Beholder
Resette’s Prescription follows Resette, a young wanderer with the ability to enter the minds of people and help them with mental issues. While traversing a forest, Resette and her feline assistant, Gaede, come across a comatose boy. She quickly diagnoses him with “sleeping sickness” due to subconscious trauma, and enters his mind to help wake him up.
Once inside of his mind, Resette travels through vignettes of his recent past to experience them as the boy did. She must use the info she finds to convince the boy to overcome his trauma and return to consciousness.
What follows is a relatively intriguing story that is severely blunted by the game’s short runtime. As the game revolves around stress and mental issues, along with a focus on law and differing views of justice, much of the story is heavily dramatic. With a runtime of around two hours, there is very little buildup to these moments, causing the climaxes of the game to feel somewhat forced.
Characterization takes a major hit due to the game’s length as well. We are given nearly no time to get to know the characters, their personalities, or their motivations, further hurting the dramatic moments. I was unable to sympathize with the characters and the situations they find themselves in, as I knew next-to-nothing about them and had no time to come to care for them.
Resette’s Prescription is presented as a point-and-click puzzle game. You control Resette (and occasionally Gaede) by clicking on various points of the environment, and you can click on various objects to interact with them. Genre standards are present here: clicking around the environment to find items, combining items together to create new ones, and using these items to solve puzzles and proceed with the game.
This game is relatively easy for its genre, which is well-known for occasionally obtuse and illogical puzzle solutions. Environmental puzzles are straight-forward and, despite being nearly stumped once or twice, no puzzle took me more than a few minutes to find the solution to. The greatest sticking point in my playthrough was actually one of the first puzzles of the game, involving balancing a scale, which took a bit of math to get through.
However, despite being a puzzle game, there is a surprising lack of puzzle solving to do. About half of Resette’s Prescription‘s runtime is taken up by story, with most puzzle segments only lasting a few minutes. There is a lengthy puzzle segment right around the game’s midpoint which offers some of the best puzzles of the game, but the proceeding half of the runtime is mostly story dialogue with a severe lack of puzzle gameplay.
While avoiding spoilers, I do have to say that the final segment of the game offers the most hilarious departure in gameplay that I can imagine. So much so that it actually became the most memorable moment in the game for me, and some of the most fun I had with the game.
Like Paint to Canvas
The graphical presentation is, far and away, the greatest reason to play Resette’s Prescription. The artstyle presented is done in a hand-drawn watercolor style, designed to look like a picture book. The impressive variety of environments are all done in this style. The amount of detail is excellent as well, especially considering that this is an indie release.
The artstyle of the characters is pleasing to the eye as well, but stands in stark contrast to the environment art. While the backgrounds have varying color gradients and noticeable brushstrokes, the character designs are done with solid, bold colors, as are many of the objects that you can interact with. It creates an unusual dichotomy, but helps to avoid a common complaint in point-and-click games, where players can struggle with finding the small points in the environment they can interact with.
One of the selling points of Resette’s Prescription is in the expressiveness of the characters, which is an apt description…for some of them. Resette herself is constantly emotive, and some of the secondary characters become so during dramatic moments. However, said secondary characters and the background NPCs spend most of the time in a generic stock-still arms-at-their-sides position, just moving their mouths when they speak.
The music of Resette’s Prescription is a great fit for the game’s graphical presentation. A touch mystical, somewhat rustic, and mostly laid-back. Unfortunately, there is another qualifier that I would apply to the soundtrack: low-quality. Not in the style or orchestration, but in the actual sound quality. The music sounds very compressed and rough, even at mid volumes.
It’s quite a shame, as the soundtrack matches the feel of the game quite well, and the opening and ending vocal tracks are great. The track that plays during the final sequence of the game is far-and-away one of my favorites, as well.
Overall, Resette’s Prescription is an intriguing experience with a great artistic style, but there’s just not enough of it. The biggest downfall of this game is in its runtime. There’s not enough time to develop the story and characters, which especially hurts in all the times it reaches into drama. The game is also disappointingly lacking in puzzles, as much of the game devotes itself to its underdeveloped story.
To add a bit of insult to injury, there is also no replayability. The game offers up the same puzzles and the same story, so once you know all the answers and plot points, there’s nothing else to do.
If this were an extreme-budget game (think $5-7), I would be more apt to recommend it. What is offered here is interesting, if not perfect, and the artstyle presented is great. However, as a release priced at $12.99 (although it is on sale for 10% off at the time of this review) for around 2 hours of playtime and no replayability, Resette’s Prescription is a difficult sell.
~ Final Score: 4/10 ~
Review copy provided by Sekai Project for PC. Screenshots taken by reviewer.