The X-Files: Resist or Serve Review

If you’re an X-Files fan then like me you probably miss the show – maybe not so much the series’ drawn out wind-down, but certainly its heyday. Television is just not the same without the show’s intelligent writing, Mulder’s unwavering belief and his smart, smirk-delivered quips, and Scully’s erudite and unwavering skepticism. Unfortunately the show’s style never really translated well to video games, and the very few X-Files games made have been unfailingly disappointing. Two years after the show has left the airwaves, X-Files: Resist or Serve attempts to end this unfortunate trend. In an effort to recapture some of the show’s magic, Vivendi Universal Games recruited some of the series’ writers to pen the game’s storyline. This was a brilliant move as the game’s story will be sure to please most X-Files fans and remind them of how much they miss the show. These fans will also be delighted to see that the Lone Gunmen, AD Skinner, and nemeses Krychek and the Cigarette Man all make an appearance. Unfortunately, the effort put forth by the game’s programmers does not match the quality of the writing and the game suffers as a result.

Mulder in familiar surroundings.

The game opens with Mulder and Scully driving to Red Falls, Colorado. Through their conversation you learn that the town has endured more than its fair share of bizarre, ritualistic murders and that twin teenage girls with a proclivity for witchcraft are at the top of the suspect list. X-Files fans will not be surprised to learn that as the story progresses the mysterious goings-on in Red Falls are only at the surface of a much deeper conspiracy. You take over when the duo arrives in town to find the streets deserted save for a dying man on the pavement outside of a gas station and this is where you must make your first big decision in the game, Mulder or Scully. Your choice affects more than which character you will play as the game will play differently depending on your choice. As Mulder you will spend more time going face to face with the supernatural, while as Scully you will use your scientific training to perform autopsies, analyze evidence, and develop antidotes. The overall storyline is the same no matter which character you choose to play, but you’ll get to see different parts of the story from different viewpoints with each of the characters. This adds replay value to the game as you’ll want to play through it twice to get the full experience of the story. While the game’s designers could easily have had you alternate play between the two through a single campaign, as it stands you get a more consistent experience by progressing through the story from a single viewpoint.

The gameplay in Resist or Serve is best described as survival horror, but there is more emphasis on puzzle solving and the evolving storyline than there is on fighting supernatural assailants. Most of the puzzles are of the usual variety – locating switches, finding items to unlock gates and doors, etc. When searching areas for items your primary tool will be your flashlight. When the beam comes across something important it will shine, letting you know that you can (and should) pick up the object. In this regard the game plays a lot like a traditional adventure game. Each time you enter a new room or scene you’ll need to sweep the screen with your flashlight looking for important objects. While not as bad as the painful pixel hunts that plague adventure games, this is still the least enjoyable aspect of the game.