Tag Archives: ECHO

ECHO review (PS4)

We all have different styles of playing when we game – whether you are naturally an aggressive player compared to a tactician, a defensive thinker compared to a brawler; we can always play to our strengths. What would happen then if the game you were playing learnt from your actions and used them against you? Welcome Echo. . .

Echo starts by introducing us to En; a young female wearing a blood-soaked dress awakes from cryosleep in the middle of deep space on her way to “The Palace”. The only interaction is between En and her AI to start with and you get a glimpse of the reason that they are on their way to their destination. On first inspection the desired planet seems to be a pristine surface of white cubes, geometrically intricate that on closer inspection are crumbling underneath – with the lack of any other obvious signs of life it’s left up to En to explore.

After quite a length of time En enters The Palace, which is itself hugely impressive in the level of detail achieved; pristine gilded vases, ornate mirrors and polished marble plinths. It’s within these confines that the game stays – a myriad of levels and hallways and side rooms that you’re actively encouraged to explore. Unfortunately as the game progresses the surroundings generally do not so there was a huge sense of disappointment as the game went on – apart from a few colour changes later on the game it was extremely samey.

Echo in itself is a stealth game at heart – you have to evade Denziens, which are digital versions of yourself. At the beginning of the game these Denziens start with quite basic movement and actions, such as slowly walking or trying to grab you. The art and beauty of this game that as you play, the Denziens   actively learn from you. As you start to crouch to avoid them by stealth, they do too; as you learn to shoot your gun, they start to learn how to shoot back. Often a section of the game can come down to whether they have learnt to run and can so out chase you to the next waypoint.

As you try and counter your own playing style you have to take huge inspiration from the tools that you have available. You have a risk sensor that surrounds you alerting you to various degrees of danger from the Denziens close by, an ability to pulse the surrounding areas and see where you foes lay in wait – and also a gun. Stealth is by far the preferred option as all actions are determined dependent on how much charge you’re carrying (and you can only get a maximum charge from certain points within the game); it’s for this reason that you start taking your time. It’s extremely rewarding knowing that you can only make one shot but lining up 5 Denziens and blasting them all would make anyone smile. Apart from your gun and stealth, your only other options are to shove your opponents or run.

The game bases itself into three distinct timing sections; the main part of the game sees you in full light actively trying to avoid the Denziens and not give too much of your own game play style away. The next is a lights out phase whereby you still have to avoid the hazards but nothing can be learnt and then there is a blackout phase which resets all learning and skills for the Denziens. Very early on I learnt that whatever you did in the lights out phase made no difference to their adapted learning so went round shooting them with glee.

As the game progresses you find yourself in trickier scenarios, however, as the physical environment doesn’t change that much, it’s very hard to keep switched on. Yes, it is a stealth game that makes you evaluate yourself as a player because you are effectively playing against something of your own creation and skill set but surely that’s the beauty of playing games that aren’t the same as you? I wouldn’t train for boxing by punching myself in the face…

This game had a great opportunity to be fantastic – it’s a brilliant concept of the opposition learning from you and the story had a half decent shot of being something bigger. I genuinely felt really let down on lots of aspects though – the repetitive surroundings, the basic storyline, the fact that in the lights out phase I could pretty much do what I wanted. For 5 hours worth of game play I kept hoping that something amazing would happen and make me sit up… But it didn’t.

It’s a smart concept by Ultra Ultra and this game will definitely divide gamers into a Marmite scenario where you’ll either love it or hate it. For that reason I’m sitting squarely on the fence with this one.

Thanks to Indigo Pearl for supporting TiX

ECHO Is Headed to the PS4

Creepy A.I. architects Ultra Ultra (ex-IO Interactive) today announce their debut game, ECHO, a nightmare-fuelled sci-fi adventure, will launch on PS4 in the US on Tuesday, October 10th, and Wednesday, October 11th in Europe.

ECHO is a Third-Person Science Fiction Adventure.

After a century in stasis the girl En arrives at her destination: A Palace out of legend, a marvel of the old civilization eons gone, still awaiting its first human occupants. Out here, using forgotten technologies, she hopes to bring back a life that shouldn’t have been lost. But nothing could prepare her for what she’ll face in the ancient halls below.

The experience starts as a character driven journey of discovery, but as it unfolds it evolves into something altogether more punishing. The Palace studies everything you do, everything you are, to use it against you. Gameplay revolves around stealth, action and manipulation, as you face off against the ultimate enemy: Yourself.

In ECHO everything has consequence: As you try to wield its magical technologies it becomes apparent that the Palace has a will of its own… It creates “Echoes” – exact copies of you in every way – that behave like you and only do the things you do. So the way you play the game shapes your enemy. If you sprint, soon the Echoes will get faster. If you sneak, they will get stealthier. If you shoot, they will learn to shoot back. The game constantly reacts to your every choice and input.

The Palace “reboots” every so often, resulting in a blackout. This blackout-cycle is the rhythm at which the Echoes get updated with your latest behavior, learning and unlearning from your actions. During the blackout the palace is blind, giving you the freedom to act without consequence. This is the time to run and gun and do all the things you don’t want the Echoes to learn.
The experience is one of being up against your own choices from the last blackout-cycle, giving you a way of shaping the game from cycle to cycle. So no matter if you prefer to go stealth or action one thing is certain, you need to keep your wits about you if you want to survive the Palace.

At the heart of ECHO is the story. The game starts as a narrative experience, focused on En and her journey into the Palace and her past. Who is she and what is her connection to the Palace? Who is this man that she needs to revive, and what was the circumstances surrounding his death? Slowly these things are uncovered as she descends into the dark halls below.

ECHO has been out on Steam since September 19th, with a fairly solid following. Can ECHO emulate the same on PS4? Time shall tell.