Review: ECHO (PS4)

ECHO_Keyart_Cube_LogoSneaking onto PC last month and out now on PS4, ECHO is one of the smartest games I’ve played this year. Developer Ultra Ultra has created an intentionally initially slow-burning hard sci-fi game that relies heavily on its innovative gameplay that’s bound to keep you on your toes. It’s also got spectacular visuals, brilliant sound design and a pair of excellent voice actors (Rose Leslie and Nick Boulton) bringing their characters to life in what’s basically one character talking to an AI interface as she tries to survive a gilded palace filled with replicas of herself trying to kill her. While it’s got its share of (primarily technical) flaws, it’s a worthy experience that shouldn’t be missed if you like your games to shake you up a bit early and often.

After a century in space asleep, a woman named En is awakened by her computer, London and informed that their ship has reached its destination. The pair has traveled all the way to a strange planet because En wants to bring back to life a friend whose remains are inside a cube-shaped device she wears on her back. The opening is a deliberately paced buildup as En lands on the planet and makes her way into The Palace, an endless ornately designed structure that’s the size of the entire planet. There’s a great deal of exposition during the game with much of of it establishing a backstory for En’s long journey as she explores her initially unlit surroundings. When she locates a spot to place that cube, The Palace reacts by coming to life and over time, producing many copies of En that eventually end up coming after her with murderous intent.

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ECHO on PS4: To Die For (Over and Over Again)

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Well, any previous thoughts I had about the PS4 version of ECHO being “lesser” in visual quality from the PC version got a nice kick in the head with those lovely screenshots below arriving in my inbox. The console version drops on October 11 for a very reasonable $24.99 via PSN, but I’m betting collectors out there would snap this up as a limited edition physical version. Eh, we’ll see how this does, but friends I know who bought the PC version seem really pleased with their purchase.

“So, what’s the game about?” you ask? Well, I’ll let talented indie developer Ultra Ultra’s Game Director Martin Emborg tell you himself here.  Me, I’ve got bigger fish to poach. No, seriously – I’m poaching fish for dinner tonight and I just stopped to post this before I got to my cooking. Back in a bit.

-GW

ECHO: Death Becomes Her (Multiple Times)

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While ECHO is out now on PC, I’m really more interested in developer Ultra Ultra‘s upcoming PlayStation 4 version set to be released in October. Partially because I hate the constant upgrading of PC hardware and mostly because I’m really curious to see how the Unreal 4-powered game looks on Sony’s hardware.

Granted, looks aren’t everything in my book. Great gameplay is always going to be far more important than pretty visuals at the end of the day. But it seems the dev team here is striving for both and if that trailers above and screenshot gallery below are any indication, succeeding in their mission.

The game’s story also makes me want to dive in feet first, so I’m avoiding reading anything else about the game until I get to take it for a spin myself. That said, if everything falls into place with this one, En’s big, deadly adventure could be one of the better original IP this year

-GW