Publisher: Ultra Ultra APS
Developer: Ultra Ultra
Release Date: 09/19/2017
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Echo is a futuristic stealth game in which you play as a woman named En who is trying to resurrect a man named Foster. Her species are known as the Resourceful who was created by her grandfather. She enters this facility to find a cube that Foster is supposed to be inside of. The story doesn’t explain a whole lot outside of voiced dialog here and there.
The game has a great opening sequence where you land on a strange planet full of square cubes and you must descend into the facility. The first hour of the game introduces all of the game mechanics, with the biggest being that the enemies are clones of you and learn from you. These clones reset during power cycles every so often. The music changes, the game goes dark, but this is when the system can’t learn your moves. If you shoot, jump, duck, hide, or smash clones in the face with crystal balls they will be able to do the same moves during the next power cycle. It’s important to reserve using your gun or even using elevators until the lights go off.
There are other abilities you have such as a power bar and being able to shove clones. Every action requires an action point such as shooting and leaping over ledges. You also have a very limited sprint meter. You can slowly regenerate one action point, but there are little towers with white balls that can give you one point spread around a room. It’s both strategy and stealth to only use these points when necessary as some rooms can have dozens of clones you need to sneak around. This is when all the problems start setting in.
Sneaking around is fine and all, but there are so many clones that it’s nearly impossible not to get seen in any single room. The only objectives you get are to make it to the next room or find keys in large open rooms to activate an elevator. This gets extremely frustrating when you restart an area over a dozen times only to never find a good path around the clones. So many times I was spotted and tried to run only to run out of action points and energy. You get one freebie by fighting your way out of a clones’ grasp and your proximity meter will glow red meaning you can’t take another hit. Rooms can be so large that you can’t get to the other end even after lining up your shot with several clones, sprinting, using your free grab, and shoving clones down.
The next issue is that the game feels like it drags on forever. I love the art style and atmosphere with strange Victorian style furnishings in a nearly sterile environment full of silver and gold decor. The problem is it repeats forever, never changes, and the constant repetition of going room to room wears thin fast. If there were a variety of things to do here it would be more enjoyable.
Overall, Echo has great voice acting, good graphics, and a creepy atmosphere, and very interesting game mechanics, but they are poorly executed in a repetitive frustrating stealth gameplay loop that outstays its welcome.