1000xResist Review
Released May. 31st, 2024

“Just be grateful you get to say goodbye.” “There’s nothing here for you anymore.” “Nostalgia can be a dangerous thing.” Simple one-liners like these are plentiful in the early conversations of 1000xResist, a story-driven game set in a far-flung future where humanity's scant remains live on through generations of clones. It’s easy to see that kind of writing and get the impression developer Sunset Visitor is perhaps a bit too eager to be melodramatic – but it trusts you’ll stick with it because their delivery and the context around them make moments like these as thoughtful as they are gut-wrenching. A striking visual style and an intoxicating mystery pull you in as its ambitious narrative structure comes together brilliantly, and in the process, its sharply written story makes bold and daring statements about family, political revolution, and the things that make us human.

It’s quite clear that 1000xResist draws from works like NieR: Automata, Neon Genesis Evangelion, or Satoshi Kon films, all of which blend surreal concepts with emotionally charged deconstructions of the human condition. You can use that as shorthand to get an idea of what this game goes for, but it quickly shows you that it’s so much more than just an amalgamation of influences. 1000xResist forges a strong identity steeped in its own fiction, establishing a wholly unique sci-fi world with its own culture, rules of governance, and belief systems – it does so with such confidence that I even found myself reciting the phrases its characters use throughout – a little “Hekki ALLMO,” or “Hair to hair,” goes a long way in these streets. That’s a microcosm of the experience; finding things which may not mean much at first glance that evolve into meaningful expressions that cut like a knife.

You spend most of your time controlling Watcher, one of six “Sisters” who are the leadership of a small civilization surviving in isolation on a remote station. They’re only referred to by the titles that represent their societal function, and it’s the Allmother, from which everyone was derived, who’s the godlike figure they all seem to revere. The story starts with a jolt by showing Watcher violently drive a shiv into the Allmother’s back, and the intensity of Watcher’s rage gives a staggering first impression – one that grows evermore shocking as you develop a deeper understanding of who the Allmother was. Unraveling this world also revolves around a deadly pandemic that wiped out nearly all of humanity, and the ensuing aftermath sets the foundation for why a society of clones made in her image exists at all.

You spend much of your time “communing” with other Sisters by navigating dreamlike scenarios, gradually uncovering a greater truth within surreal reconstructions of the Allmother’s memories. Interacting with characters and shifting through different time periods in various locations let conversations play out like pieces to a puzzle. Exploring these ethereal environments paints a more complete and harrowing picture of her life, and literal changes in perspective draw you into each scenario with specific intent – whether it’s through first-person, fixed camera angles, side-scrolling scenes, or third-person views as you fly across nodes to reach objectives, 1000xResist isn’t afraid to break both convention and expectation at critical points.

1000xResist is a revolution in storytelling.

The station where the Sisters live acts as a main hub and has the vibe of a small-scale Citadel from Mass Effect. Spending time here to talk to the other Sisters and their understudies reveals crucial details that pull you closer to their world and way of life, and there’s so much charm and insight that comes through in these one-off conversations. Although it’s a bit of a pain to navigate, since the station is constructed in some really odd ways with winding hallways that don’t always lead to where you’d expect, it’s always worth the trouble. Even in its unsettling atmosphere where something always feels a little off, it’s still a sort of home that evokes a certain sentimentality.

Buried within the memories of the Allmother are pieces of her normal life; traces of her relationships at school, a tumultuous upbringing in a home with struggling parents, and some troubling decisions she made along the way. These moments are deeply personal, and distinctly born of the Asian diaspora. 1000xResist is rooted in the experience of a Chinese family coming to the west to seek refuge and rebuild a life from scratch while raising a child. Even when there were specific references to Chinese traditions and Mandarin phrases I wasn’t familiar with (but was always excited to learn about), it was all still so familiar to me, as if there could’ve been an alternate version of this exact story transposed with Filipino traditions and Tagalog phrases. It’s a cathartic and authentic representation of the common ground Asian Americans/Canadians share, extending to anyone who grew up a first generation from an immigrant family – the disconnect we feel from being pushed into assimilating and functioning in a western society while clinging on (sometimes reluctantly) to the cultures of our motherland. It's also an open invitation to those on the outside to see what our lives are really like, and a shining example of how the local is universal.

In my Persona 3 Reload review from earlier this year, I had mentioned that its story and characters put a lot of the recent tragedies and hardships in my own life into perspective. By the time I rolled credits on 1000xResist, it had done the same but in a way that felt more targeted. From the feeling of “making it” when you’ve moved into a tiny apartment to the olive branches parents extend to their angsty teen kids to keep them connected to their culture, these are visions of a life so many of us have lived. 1000xResist is a representation of how we reflect on our upbringing and recognize the ways it shaped us as adults for better and worse, which is perspective that only comes with time and maturity.

1000xResist’s cultural foundation never becomes self-indulgent because it is the critical context that deftly creates a complete and nuanced depiction of why its world came to be. It forms a powerful connection with the Allmother and establishes the disposition for which all the Sisters share. So, to fully understand 1000xResist is to also understand generational trauma, the damage it leaves on its victims, and the ripple effect it has on those around them. Breaking cycles requires radical action, and whether that be ending harmful habits with our loved ones or upending an unjust status quo, this is a story that believes, and demonstrates how, these two must be closely intertwined.

It dissects the immigrant experience to show something greater than simple representation.

There are allusions to the history of Hong Kong protests that are sometimes used as reference for what sets 1000xResist in motion, but like its other parts, that’s only a jumping off point as the story carves its own path. Tales of rebellion and uprising are aplenty in other games since they provide you with clear motivations, but rarely do you see a game walk you through radicalization on such an intimate level – 1000xResist is the perfect example of “show, don’t tell.” It’s masterfully written to appeal to our humanity rather than preach its politics alone, and it’s far more impactful when the onus is on you to really understand what it’s trying to say. That speaks to how effectively the folks at Sunset Visitor wield their real-world influences and lived experiences as a foundation to tell a story that inspires change, and isn’t afraid to show how cruel and heartbreaking that can be.

1000xResist doesn’t shy away from the complexities, dangers, and unintended consequences of taking action and following through on a just cause. And it’s smart about where it draws its lines in the sand, expertly identifying how fascism manifests in subversive and insidious ways. It’s easy to depict the boot of corrupt and violent systems crushing the powerless, but watching historical revisionism erase what a people once were (and manipulate those around you) is just as chilling to see unfold. So, what happens when those people are pushed to the brink, and the most desperate begin to push back? These are just a few of the concepts that 1000xResist navigates effortlessly.

It’s often dark with an underlying dread lingering over its more broad story elements. However, that wouldn’t work as effectively as it does without the interpersonal dynamics that drive 1000xResist. In just its 12-hour runtime, fully formed characters are created, with rich personalities that anchor the story’s bold themes. Without that heart and soul, there is no inspiration for a revolution, but this is far from the power of friendship trope often used in stories to save the day. These are realistically flawed characters with believable and complicated relationships. Constant tension and skepticism tests their trust in each other as the systems they’ve lived under start to come under question, and during the moments in between are sobering examples of what it takes to be vulnerable with somebody.

Another impressive aspect is that every single line of dialogue is voiced and delivered with intent. The voice acting doesn’t come across like a star-studded cast reading from a well-rehearsed script, but actual people in my life speaking to me in a natural setting. It trades theatrics for something authentic, and it’s far more effective for what this story is trying to say. This helps ground its sentimentality, so when characters share their own aspirations or open up to each other, there’s a genuine warmth instead of a cloying melodrama. And when they break down from the traumatic experiences they endure, it’s as if I’m there to console one of my own friends. For as dark as things may get, 1000xResist evokes a certain tenderness and levity in the face of tragedy.

The fact that the details of this world aren’t delivered through optional journal entries, a codex in the menus, or long-winded exposition is a testament to how 1000xResist is purposeful in its writing and doesn’t waste its breath. But that’s also a credit to the strength of its art direction and visual storytelling. The shot composition of each sequence and the cinematography of its cutscenes communicate so much of what doesn’t need to be outright said. 1000xResist isn’t a graphically impressive game, but it is certainly a visually striking one. Colors are used as a storytelling device, setting the mood without a word by letting them pop in specific instances. Even though it relies on a basic set of animations, the camera work captures the emotions of its characters to emphasize their most important lines, whether it be off-center close-ups or panning environmental shots. Sunset Visitor flips its technical limitations into one of its greatest assets, letting its creative techniques speak as loud as its words.

“Sometimes, just to miss something is enough.” “You should appreciate people that see you for who you are.” “You must learn to live with the mistakes you’ve made.” Simple one-liners like these powerfully encapsulate the defining moments of 1000xResist. In its melodrama, it inspires self-reflection and asks us to take stock of what we value most. As fleeting or short-lived as our most cherished memories may be, they can still leave a profound impact on us for the rest of our lives. And when we take a step back to reflect on our place in the world, the hope is that they inspire future action.

-- Source: https://www.ign.com/articles/1000xresist-review