ECHO is a forthcoming action game set in a futuristic reality where the main character, En, is being hunted by different sentient versions of herself. We caught up with developer Ultra Ultra’s Martin Emborg (CEO and Lead Designer) to talk about the game’s unique approach to action and enemy AI. Read on to find out what makes ECHO worth watching.
GS: What or who is the inspiration behind En and does En’s name stand for anything?
Martin Emborg: We’ve been asked about inspirations before, and we’re not sure – She just kind of happened as a collaboration between all of us and the game itself.
GS: Are players able to customize En?
ME: Yes, we have a few customization-unlocks in the game, but we don’t have a character-creator or anything like that.
GS: The palace creating Echoes of your own character is such a unique twist, are these the only foes you will face?
ME: Hmm, difficult to answer without crossing into spoiler territory. –Let’s say that she only faces herself, but not always the same version.
GS: What made Ultra Ultra choose a palace setting over a world, is this to add more strategy to the consequences you create as you travel?
ME: The Palace is the world. It is literally a planet sized palace. As a concept it was there from the start as an integral part of the fantasy, so it wasn’t something that was dictated by level design or anything. Of course the Palace was then build to support and enhance the gameplay as they grew together.
GS: Echo is a very character driven journey does that mean the pace is slow or can you play it whatever pace you choose?
ME: The game starts with a lot of narrative and exploration, building the universe and the characters, so that is quite slow I guess, but then it evolves into something much more aggressive of course.
GS: Can you play Echo without killing Echoes or must you do so to win? Vice versa, can you succeed shooting all Echoes?
ME: Yes, you can make it through the game without killing any of the Echoes, but it is crazy hard. If you shoot a lot on the other hand, then they’ll shoot a lot, which also makes it very hard to survive. –Plus, you can’t really “kill” the Echoes, because the Palace revives them after each reboot, updated with your behavior. But yeah, you can get through the game at both extremes.
GS: It looks like the goal of Echo is to find keys and unlock palace doors. Is there a certain number of doors to unlock before defeating the game? Does unlocking the last door return life to the palace?
ME: There are many kinds of levels, but it’s true that we’ve mainly shown key-levels, because they’re very good for easily communicating the gameplay. No comment on what happens in those depths.
GS: The blackout cycle that occurs to reboot sounds like a pivotal time in the game. Does the world reset after every reboot so Echoes reset also?
ME: Yes, exactly, but it resets to however you played the game in the last cycle.
GS: Design wise, what was the biggest challenge of creating Echo so it appeals to today’s Steam audience on PS4 and PC?
ME: Well, it has yet to be seen if it appeals to today’s audience, but we certainly hope so! We’ve made a game that we love, putting all of our hearts and minds into it, and hopefully that can be felt when playing it.
GS: What kind of audience do you consider will enjoy Echo?
ME: People who like science fiction, ready to grapple with unconventional concepts, both with regards to narrative and gameplay.