Echo on PS4
Should I play stealthily, skulking from cover to hide to sneak past enemies while choking one or two blocking my way, or go guns blazing? Selecting a certain play style is definitely my dilemma in stealth action games giving players the options handling each situation. Amazed to discover, Echo perfectly balances this mechanic through giving you the biggest enemy: yourself.
In Echo, you fight against enemies who will be molded while using the appearance and traits of protagonist En. On top of that, each foe learns certain abilities you perform through its blackout cycle mechanic. Should the lighting is on, the palace records all actions accomplished by En. Smashed someone’s head using a glass? Strangled anyone to death? Fired your gun? Good luck. You only taught them some dangerous moves. Once the palace’s systems reboot, each enemy knows how to bash top of your head which includes a glass, choke you to death, and shoot you. Each enemy killed in the blackout cycle can even respawn while in the exact spot they died, now with more murderous skills.
Echo’s blackout device is another process of unlearning for any AI. Each system reboot will still only record actions performed inside prior light cycle, meaning enemies can be lethal predators in a single light cycle and brain-dead AI in the following. This can lead to interesting game plans and types of conditions. Available as one light cycle, I ran, smacked, and shot everyone in a very heavily-populated area. Over the following, I sneaked my way through, not only to needn’t be gob-smacked by skilled enemies and to make them unlearn their abilities.
In a way, Echo lets players control the game’s difficulty, but difficulty spikes are aplenty and there’s no person the culprit but yourself. Throughout its 6 to 9 hour run time, Echo remained an even nerve-wracking mind-game in which you should consciously weigh the end results of this actions. Even simple movements just like running, crouching, opening doors, and dropping down ledges could be learned by enemies. “Do as few actions as you possibly can,” I told myself initially after learning of Echo’s blackout cycles-but before I found the important, ornate marble interiors with the palaces can also be the place to find well-designed levels, with every enemy strategically placed to use my skills. It is a testament that developer Ultra Ultra has talented developers who grasp game design, which is to be expected from your team having former staff from Io Interactive who worked on the Hitman series.
Doing as few actions as possible to help make the game much simpler only sounds easy written. Sometimes there are no choice but to begin doors or traverse the water to attain your destination. However, this actually also creates more strategic alternatives for players, forcing that you plan accordingly whether you’ll want to perform certain action before or just after each blackout cycle. The overall game also pressures you to teach your enemies new skills because it’s a kill-or-be-killed scenario once you get spotted, and outmaneuvering them will prove difficult and sure bring on your demise if you severely limit your movements.
Echo never isn’t able to impress whenever the adventure accurately equips all enemies while using abilities you impart, even if traversing from a single sector to another. Sadly, Echo doesn’t feel as polished the way it should be. Frame rate issues are apparent whenever lots of Echoes are visible on-screen. A few blackout occurrences also coincided together with the screen freezing for some seconds, which feels disruptive for just a stealth game where positioning and area awareness essential. These problems doesn’t creep in often, but it’s definitely frustrating when it happens.
AI pathing is also quite predictable as enemies strictly follow their patrol route. Also they are deaf to your sound of your respective footsteps, meaning players must avoid their brand of sight. However, Echo’s brilliance in AI programming shines once you get spotted and impart more abilities in their eyes. Whenever normally, enemies leave their delegated posts and are generally able to explore more freely while remaining able to their job to hunt you down. Seeing enemies jumping down and up ledges or opening doors always felt amusing and off-putting (within a smart way).
In Echo, carefully treading one’s path and familiarizing oneself while using level layout is extremely important due to the deficit of an in-game map. Instead is often a minimalist HUD that indicates enemy presence plus your visibility in their mind. Worse, the moment the palace actually starts to reboot its systems, its well-lit interiors turn pitch black with only a couple flashlights equipped on En’s shoulders lighting the manner in which, which makes it not easy to see anything surrounding you. This continual system reboot is along with stellar sound design that creates the palace believe that this is a living, breathing entity. The reverberating, pulsating sound in the thumping bass also commences when the lights dim, accentuating the dreadful atmosphere. As soon as the palace successfully reboots, the screen fades to black. Prior to the lights activate, the overall game provides lots of time to ponder for those who accidentally positioned your character near lots of enemies.
While the blackout cycle may be a unique mechanic that revolutionizes the stealth genre, Echo’s gameplay isn’t able to realize this potential. Unlike her other contemporaries, En lacks the combat finesse and fluidity and snappy stealth maneuvers of Metal Gear Solid’s Snake and Splinter Cell’s Sam Fisher. En also doesn’t feel as satisfying to learn caused by her simplistic movement and skills. Each action she performs is pretty straightforward, lacking the oomph you’d expect from cracking someone’s neck or pushing them off a ledge. Gunplay also lacks complexity, with En with a firearm that could kill all enemies in a very straight line which includes a single bullet. As her movements are mirrored by enemies, the experience can feel quite predictable and repetitive.
This does not the gameplay isn’t enjoyable because it is simplicity highlights the uniqueness of that game mechanics. However, when you are repeatedly precisely the same missions within the samey-looking palaces, it can get tiring. If missions didn’t contain repetitive orb collect-a-thons, key acquisition objectives to look at a door, and point A recommend B tasks, Echo might have been enjoyable from commence to end. Nonetheless, the blackout cycle mechanic suffices in spicing within the experience. Also, as soon as the game starts to feel dragged out, Echo adds a handful of new elements to partly freshen up the knowledge. Some sections also serve mainly to give a change of pace and require a breather from the tense missions, tasking someone to simply traverse inside and outside palaces without the need of enemies bothering you. It’s throughout these moments that this game’s storytelling takes over.
The story of Echo is wholly dialogue-based, with Rose Leslie of Bet on Thrones fame voicing En constantly bickering along with her ship A.I. London voiced by Nick Boulton (Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, Nioh, Mass: Effect Andromeda). The planet building of Echo utilizes both characters’ constant engagement, with En providing a fantastic performance in portraying a nuanced, idealistic character who sounds fueled with determination and courage though enough restraint end some frailty and doubt; this is certainly contrasted by London’s cold-mannered personality, centering on practicality and what’s impossible. Despite its attempt for storytelling, Echo never efforts to give enough a little space for players to hook program the plot, and the entire tale can sound incorrigibly complex and obtuse for those who pay no enough attention. Although story was convincing, it felt as it was written solely to assist the game’s intriguing mechanics.
Echo doesn’t overstay its welcome. The complete playthrough lasts six to nine hours typically, with collectible items plus much more punishing difficulties obtainable for people that prefer to replay the knowledge. This playthrough length already includes its snail-paced opening sequence that slowly unravels the mystery behind palaces. While frustratingly slow, the outlet scenes conduct a good job in having a lasting, harrowing vibe for the complete game. It isn’t a horror game, but features a frightening believe permeates the entire experience hanks for the presentation and sound design. The gigantic scale of palaces, while marvelous in scope and design, is one thing ensure tread in real life.
Echo endures its conceptually impressive mechanics and simplistic gameplay, but is affected with repetitiveness. Nonetheless, Echo is undoubtedly an enjoyable game that fans of the stealth action genre should experience, particularly when there’s nothing like it sold in the market.
Score: 3.5/5 – Fair