Echo is the coolest new sci-fi game you’re probably not playing


#1

I started Echo since I was intrigued by its gameplay concept: stealth action against “Echoes” that copy your recent moves. Do a stealth takedown and the next cycle, you’ll have to worry about being taken down from behind by enemies. Shoot them, and be prepared to dodge energy blasts, and so on. While the game is far from the complexity of Hitman (part of the dev team worked on Hitman), you can see the stealth-action-puzzle roots in Echo, how you have to plan ahead and consider how your actions will affect you down the line,

But while the gameplay is intriguing and clever, and one of the few games that tackle the “AI learns and adapts to you” concept, Echo’s real treat has turned out to be its science fiction trappings. Far future transhumanism. Biologically engineered beings. A classic “big dumb object”. Sentient AI. Sprawling architecture straight out of Bowman’s 2001 bedroom. Echo’s imagery and story are actually its greatest strengths, delving into the culture and character of biologically engineered protagonist En through conversations with her ship AI companion London, voice-acted by Game of Thrones’ Rose Leslie and Hellblade’s Nick Boulton. Even the Palace, the aware planet-size labyrinth of extravagant architecture and mythical technology that is Echo’s setting. becomes a character in itself, through its aggressive aesthetic and the oddly uneasy contrast between interior and exterior design and its mysterious purpose.

My biggest gripe so far has been that the beginning dragged on for much too long; if it was shortened, the opening would probably be one of my favorite openings in a recent sci-fi game, in how it progresses and gradually, creepily introduces its core ideas.

Purely judged as science fiction, it’s up there with Prey and Horizon IMO. Nothing else this year is tackling these concepts of transhumanism and such in as lean and confident a vision as Echo is. I’d might even call it “The Swapper” of 2017, not gameplay wise but in how it revolves around a single concept and delves deep into some really fascinating sci-fi concepts and themes with a surprisingly well-written and acted story.

And the main menu design is fantastic


#2

This seems very interesting, for sure.

I enjoy hard sci-fi concepts, and it’s cool when games really explore them.

I was wondering about the echoes–seems they work more like a learned behavior and not so much a recorded “ghost” as I initially thought.


#3

Echo seems like the sort of Tsutomu Nihei esque cybergothic nightmare 18 year old me would have killed for a proper game’s worth of. Definitely need to get on this


#4

From what I’ve seen of it it seems super heavily inspired by Magnetic Rose, so I’d love to look more into it.


#5

I had to read this sentence three times before I realized that “Tsutomu Nihei” was a person and not a mangled mess of typos I had to decipher.

And then I googled him and found out he’s a manga artist and that his art is super cool. I’m definitely checking his stuff out in the future.


#6

Definitely interested. My gaming schedule is stacked rn, but I will definitely contribute to the legs on this one in early 2018. Love the concept, and I love stories/settings that deal with transhumanism.


#7

I’ve seen several people compare the atmosphere and concepts to the kind of stuff you’d find in an Ian Banks or Alastair Reynolds book

I don’t think the gameplay is as refined as it could be, but even the gameplay falters, the other elements intrigue and compel me enough to keep playing. The repetitive visual design can be a mark of criticism, but thought that aspect feels thematically in line with the world and Echo tech. Why wouldn’t a place with the tech to copy inhabitants (but not completely) also not construct itself through similar yet flawed means?


#8

I thoroughly enjoyed the first few hours of Echo, but I felt like it’s run-time far outstretched its mechanics. I would say that the star of the show is absolutely the story and setting. I highly recommend giving it a shot, but as soon as the gameplay goes from fun to tedious for you, I’d say you’re safe on watching the rest via a no-commentary Let’s Play on YouTube.

Also I was absolutely floored by the quality of the voice-acting for a smaller-studio game. I really want to see Rose Leslie do more VA work because she was stellar in this.


#9

Isn’t this thread copied word for word from neogaf?


#10

I saw the Giant Bomb videos on this, but haven’t got around to playing it myself. Thanks for the write up, I’ll check it out later on today.


#11

Glad you brought this thread over, MB. I’m about 4 hours in so far. I’m enjoying it more, but I will say the visual repetition is starting to wear me down. I understand and appreciate how it connects to the lore, but I just wish the devs did a little more than a colorswap (e.g. more corruption, developments in the palace, more architecture). Something just to signify how much progression you’ve made in order to avoid the midgame slog. It reminds me, on a much smaller scale, of the problems I had with Mafia III’s midgame.

That said, I do enjoy the mechanics. I do enjoy the world building. And the voice acting is top-notch.


#12

6 hours in and I’m starting to understand the brilliance of ECHO’s game design. If I think about most of the action-stealth games I’ve played–the Deus Exes, the Dishonoreds, the Hitmen–I almost always only stealth through them. It just feels like the correct way to play for me, so I’m constantly quick-saving and trying to methodically work my way through a gamespace, scavenging, picking up collectables, and taking in the visuals along the way. So, as a consequence, I missed out on almost all of those games combative approaches. The cool weapons, the takedowns, the upgrades–all missed. ECHO’s mechanics combats that type of limited “stealth only” experience at every turn.

Every step of the way, ECHO forces you to change up the way you might traditional play stealth games.The cyclical refreshing of the Palace means that enemies return, so there’s no consequence to snuffing them other than getting them out of your way for a couple of minutes. The blackouts are often your best chance to make a mad dash for it, drawing enemies out and lining them up with your reticle before leaping off a ledge and hiding for the reset. The uncertainty of a save point means that it’s wiser to just push forward and survive minute-to-minute, grace be damned. In that sense, it reminds me most of SUPERHOT in that it turns its respective genre on its head, presenting each level as a sort of puzzle. It’s tense, it’s suffocating, and it’s tightly designed.

Now to see if the story can hold up its side of the bargain.


#13

This looks amazing and the kind of scifi I’ve been yearning for. Gonna give this a shot soon.