Saturday, March 2, 2024

RESISTOR is a vehicular combat RPG that shows serious promise

Racing games have never been my speed, but you know what has? RPGs. I love them, am obsessed with them, and have far too many tattoo ideas about them. So, when I saw RESISTOR advertise itself as a ‘narrative-driven racing RPG’ over at EGX 2023, I was only a little surprised when I caved and went over to have a look.

To sum it up: players take on the role of Aster, the child of a racing genius known as Eugene Aster. It’s the year 2060, and the world is in a general state of dystopia and disrepair. The world’s governments are no more, with countries and places mostly consisting of self-contained city-states that are controlled by a league of powerful corporations. Think of it like Apple and Microsoft being in charge of London.

In these city-states, life is blissful and steeped in the major excess expected of the wealthy. Outside of these walls, however are scattered communities that are barely scraping by and, having no other options, are forced to live in whatever stretch of wasteland that seems habitable.

The only way out of this miserable existence is through the corporation’s annual racing tournament. There the bravest and most daring of challengers must take partake in a series of races that are high-risk. We’re talking about literal vehicular combat here, so expect fire, death-defying tricks, and a lot of bumping and grinding (behave) while you race through high-speed race tracks. If they win, the reward is a one-way ticket to citizenship and a happier, safer life in cities. Forget it being set in 2060, modern-day isn’t too far off.

With this setting in mind, you might not be shocked to hear that Aster lives outside the city walls and is taking part in this tournament to get medical aid for their mother. But, as the demo showed, that wasn’t always the case. Indeed, the demo starts with Aster as a child, looking in the mirror at the racer they imagine themselves to be when they’re an adult. Not only does this small introduction serve to show that Aster wasn’t always some nobody living in a wasteland, but it also works as the game’s character creator.

Image Source: PQube

Now, the character creator here is what gripped me from the get-go. While not technically brilliant or packed to the brim with the amount of choices we’ve recently seen in games like Baldur’s Gate 3, RESISTOR gives you enough options that make you feel seen. I messed around with the hair, eye colour, and the nose, but what really had me giddy was the body type options.

It’s still, unfortunately, rare that body types are included in video games. Even now, the options only seem to be for skinny or buff, and never fat. This isn’t the case for RESISTOR. You’re able to be buff, skinny, or fat. It’s a rare inclusion, but one that stuck with me throughout my entire time at EGX 2023. The only downside to this is that, from the limited time I had with the demo, is that this is clearly a work-in-progress for the dev team. While playing with a fatter body, I found that your skin will often clip through your clothes and objects. Again, this is just a demo, so I assume this will be figured out by release because I’d hate for the option to just simply not exist anymore.

As far as I was able to tell, there were also no pronouns for Aster. They are simply referred to by their name, allowing you to shape them into a character that suits whatever you’re looking for in a game. It’s a very neat detail.

Once you’re done with character creation, RESISTOR skips forward in time and takes you into the nitty gritty of vehicular combat. This means a lot of swerving, sliding, and drifting, all while performing neat tricks in the air. Despite being arguably the heart and soul of the game, I found the controls particularly unwieldy during these sections. Performing tricks and crashing into enemy cars was plenty of fun, but the steering and drifting often didn’t work despite me pressing the right buttons and, overall, felt pretty clunky overall.

Image Source: PQube

There’s plenty of room for improvement, but what I did play wasn’t all that bad. The environment of the tracks — and the way you can interact with them — gives you plenty of space to do whatever you want during the introductory tutorial, though whether that will reflect in the full game remains to be seen.

As for the story, we know that Aster is forced to take part in a tournament to help their mother, and that their relationship with their father has left them deeply distrustful of cities. But outside of that? They remain a mystery.

All in all, what I got of RESISTOR at EGX 2023 was just a small taste. But one that certainly has me wanting to go back for more — if only to find out if the game at completion is able to pull off the narrative-driven RPG in a way that feels satisfactory. I’m intrigued and want to know more. For a demo that lasted only around 10-minutes? That’s quite the achievement.

RESISTOR is coming soon to PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X/S and PS5.

Aimee Hart

[She/They] Aimee Hart is Editor-in-Chief of Gayming Magazine. She specializes in queer fandom, video games and tabletop, having started her career writing for numerous websites like The Verge, Polygon, Input Magazine and more. Her goal now is to boost LGBTQ+ voices in the video games industry.