ECHO: You are your own worst enemy (Hands-on first impressions)

Echo

ECHO is a sci-fi adventure game that begins with a narrative of discovery and hope. The main protagonist, En, is on a journey to restore a life that was taken away unjustly. She soon discovers that it won’t be as simple as just finding and using forgotten technologies.

The heart of ECHO is its narrative and focus on En, her past, and her quest. The player will wonder who is the person she is trying to revive, how the person died, and how far she is willing to go to bring them back to life. En’s journey will take her to an ancient palace of legend where past technologies may suit her needs. After arriving she begins to learn that the palace has created echoes, exact copies of En that act and behave just as she does. She learns that her actions soon beget their actions, and confrontation will be inevitable as the echoes all lust for the key to her friend’s revival, the red cube on her back.

The main component of ECHO’s gameplay is based on the echoes mimicking the player, and it will vary from player to player based on how they decide to tackle each situation. The player should be cognizant of everything they do, something as normal as sprinting or engaging in combat will enable the echoes to do so as well. The echoes are also dynamic in their learning, so the more a player uses an action, the more the echoes will as well. This effect trickles down to every action outside of combat as well.

A player’s decision to use a door, walk through water, or vault over an open section will change how players must proceed going forward. Player’s will get temporary reprieves called blackout periods where the palace darkens and the player is free to do as they wish without the echoes learning new skills. Now there are a lot of floors to traverse in the palace, and if the echoes continually learn from the player, it would become unbearably difficult towards the latter parts of the game. To counterbalance this, echoes will only retain knowledge from the previous blackout cycle. This means that they will lose abilities that aren’t used in consecutive cycles.

During my hands-on time with ECHO, I was tasked with finding 26 glowing blue orbs. And while my time was limited, my experience with the game’s mechanics was anything but that. The section of the palace had multiple levels each area filled with echoes. There were more than 26 orbs to choose from, which added to my freedom of which path to take and how I would progress.

Like a creature of habit from other games, I instantly began sprinting to try and collect the orbs as fast as possible. While they were unable to sprint after me currently, I knew in the back of my head that I would feel the repercussions during the following blackout cycle. In the following cycle, the enemies gave chase to me, and this required me to up the stakes once again by engaging with my gun. (This was another decision I would feel also later. )

Combat with your gun is limited by an energy gauge that will improve as the player finds upgrades. There are energy pickups in the level and your final node will refill slowly over time should the gauge empty completely. Echoes cannot be killed permanently as they will be restored during the following light cycle to prevent the player from progressing just by killing. The light and blackout cycles are both pretty short in nature to keep the player on their toes, and as you progress through the palace, there are new mechanics added. These can be as simple as elevators, dining environments, and areas locked based on whether it’s a light or blackout period.

While I only got to play a single section of ECHO, it definitely left me wanting more. I am eager to see more of the narrative side of the story as well as how fast I can adapt to the changing landscape due to my actions.

Check out the trailer below and let us know if you’re ready to face your biggest challenge: Yourself.

Echo is scheduled to release September 19th via steam and shortly after for the PlayStation 4.

About author

Jada Griffin
Jada Griffin 329 posts

Legends tell of a princess captured and raised by Ninjas to be their future leader. Jada was trained from an early age to max the luck stat, always strike first and to never surrender.