1000xRESIST review: You Can (Not) Resist

1000xRESIST is a difficult game to classify, but it's definitely something special.

There was a big question hanging over me the whole time I played 1000xRESIST: what, exactly, is this game? Is it a visual novel with some exploration built in? Is it closer to a classic adventure game, albeit one light on puzzles? Is it a philosophical poem, or should I be viewing it through a more traditional narrative lens?

I remembered Hideo Kojima’s claim that Death Stranding was the start of a new genre called “strand” game, where players use asynchronous communication to help each other out, and I found myself wondering if that wasn’t also an appropriate label for a game all about connection – one that will hopefully bring players together to share interpretations and talk through questions.

Even after the 13 hours of play it took me to finish 1000xRESIST, I’m still not really sure how to classify it, or how to explain it to others. The one thing I know with some certainty is that I like it very much.

In 1000xRESIST, humanity has been all but wiped out by the arrival of an alien species, the Occupants – enormous, floating beings who bring with them a disease that is immediately fatal to most of the Earth’s population. Iris, a teenage girl who lives with her parents in Canada, is somehow immune to the disease, and hands herself over for medical testing to see if a cure can be manufactured. 

Image: Sunset Visitor

You play as a character named Watcher, many years after the Occupants’ arrival. Watcher is one of many clones of Iris, who is now known as the ALLMOTHER; the clones live in a mysterious base known as the Orcard, and Watcher is one of six “sisters” assigned with a special function. She is the only sister able to enact “communion” with the others, allowing both of them to enter into the memories of ALLMOTHER and relive experiences from her life.

Through playing through these memories, and getting to grips with the history of Iris and the facility, you gradually get a greater sense of what happened to the Earth – and what needs to happen next. This is about the limits of the plot knowledge I’d recommend going into the game with. Being a bit confused is all part of the experience, as is the joy you feel when details start to cohere. 

A lot of the characters in 1000xRESIST are Iris clones, but with different costuming and voice performances to tell them apart – a clever way to build a huge backlog of characters with limited design resources. Every line of dialogue is professionally voice-acted, and each clone has a distinct personality and agenda.

Each communion you experience is a little different in style and setting, and each one digs a bit deeper into the broader narrative. A few feel like visual poems; some mix together different aesthetics and styles of media, while others are more straightforward. There are some light puzzle elements, usually involving a simple time manipulation mechanic, but most of the mechanics are in service of following the story above all else.

There is a lot I’m leaving out here, by the way. You want twists and tangents, side characters, surprises, rug-pulls? This game’s got them.

1000xRESIST has a lot of obvious influences, from both media and allusions to real-life events ranging from protests in Hong Kong to the COVID pandemic. I’m Evangelion-pilled enough to see a lot of Hideaki Anno in here; Satoshi Kon’s films and Yoko Taro’s work on Nier also inspired the game. Yet this still feels, at its core, like a boldly original piece of work.

Image: Sunset Visitor

This is the sort of game that wears its indie credentials in all kinds of interesting ways – a game of both incredible polish and many rough edges. There are game environments that feel flat, textureless, unfinished – all of which are juxtaposed against several moments of staggering beauty. There are odd character poses and messy designs that sit at odds with how confident the game feels in its storytelling beats.

It’s a little longer than it needs to be, and quite convoluted in places, with sections and characters and tangents that perhaps could have been cut – but it’s exciting to see a small, indie team executing upon a huge, weird vision like this. I’m ultimately glad for the game’s occasional lumpiness because of the creative freedom it suggests.

Some issues are less easily forgiven. My most significant gripe is with the Orchard, the main hub of the game that you’ll need to navigate frequently as you search for specific characters to complete objectives. There are pathfinding markers you can follow to objectives, but I found the layout of the place deeply confusing. I think of my 13-hour playtime, I spent at least 30 cumulative minutes lost and frustrated amid all the glass tubes, staircases, hallways and long, ugly corridors of Orchard.

I can’t say for sure that I totally understood everything that happened in my playthrough. At one point, deep into the game, I logged off and mentally mapped out the story, and was legitimately surprised at how much of the big picture had come together for me. Moment to moment, I often felt confused.

Because all of the characters are clones, it can be difficult to keep track of who is who, and what their goals and intentions are. I also didn’t fully realise until I was midway through just how much worldbuilding was hidden away in entirely optional conversations. 

 But even when I was struggling to make sense of what was happening on screen, or a reveal wasn’t hitting because I could not keep track of the set-up, the vibes were immaculate. This is a big piece of work of the kind that feels rare these days – a mid-length, single-player only, intensely narrative-focused game that was clearly made with few restrictions or compromises. It can be off-putting, it can be confusing, it’s probably a bit longer than it needs to be. And I love it.

I feel like I could write 5000 words about 1000xRESIST and still feel like I hadn’t really properly conveyed what kind of game this is, or why, exactly, I came away from it with such fond feelings. All I can say, really, is that I think it’s great. Shaggy, weird, a little annoying sometimes… but nevertheless, truly great. Glory to the ALLMOTHER. 

Four stars: ★★★★

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows
Developer: Sunset Visitor
Publisher: Fellow Traveller
Release Date: May 9, 2024

A code was provided by the publisher for the purposes of this review. GamesHub reviews are rated on a five-point scale.

James O'Connor has written about games for a long time. He has written for games, as a narrative designer, for less time. Against his better judgement, he's on Twitter: @Jickle