By Special Guest Writer: Daniel Lipscombe
The problem with Echoes is that it’s a mini and not a fully fledged PSN title, allow me to divulge. Echoes is a puzzle game in which you move a girl around mazes and pathways to collect gems, however as you pick up a gem you leave behind an echo of yourself, bumping into these echoes hurts you and takes a life away. It’s a simple premise and one that works well in its application; however it’s all a bit too simple.
The gameplay itself is structured well, bringing in items that help you clear echoes in the immediate area or freeze time momentarily among other things, offering many different level layouts to keep your grey matter ticking over and there are even awards for doing well. It’s a perfect game for snatching five minutes at the bus stop or during an advert break but it strangely leaves you wanting more.
That’s not to say there isn’t plenty to do, there are other modes besides the arcade mode. Jackpot mode asks you to get the highest score in 60 seconds, survival sees how long you can last without dying and clockwork allows you to control time and the movement of the echoes so you’ll need to rely on thinking two steps ahead at all times. The latter mode is perhaps the most interesting and easily the mode I spent most time with, as rather than relying on instinct it requires a lot more planning.
The reason that Echoes leaves you wanting more though is that it’s actually a remarkable game, but presented quite poorly. This is obviously due to the Mini format, but it could be so much more. The visuals borrow heavily from games like Braid, although it is played in a top down view, which means all you can see is the top of a hat. Halfbrick, the developers, may as well have lost the loose and rather plain story and opted for something more interesting to look at that inspires rather than bores.
However the visuals are probably the lowest point, the soundtrack is an ambient mix of trance like tunes and it fits the idea of a dreamworld very well, you won’t be missing anything if you don’t listen, but it does finish the experience well.
Echoes is a lovely little game perhaps spoiled by what could have been. On its own it works very well and will keep you occupied in short bursts. Don’t expect it to last you forever though, it’s not an overly long game, but striving for awards or perfect scores may keep you going for a little longer. If Halfbrick can optimise the game and extend it to publish it as a PSN game rather than a mini then they will have a winner on their hands.