If you’ve been reading the site, you’ve seen the slick-looking, impressively voice-casted, psychological adventure ECHO from Ultra Ultra come across our headlines a few times. We’ve been playing it the past few days, and while we need a bit more time with the title to render a verdict, what follows is our review in progress and first impressions of what’s certainly going to be a cult classic.
ECHO stars Rose Leslie as En, a woman who was rescued by a mysterious man and his AI ship/companion. Somehow, he wound up imprisoned (or killed) with his soul trapped in a cube. You and London, the AI in question (who doesn’t seem to think too highly of you) follow the man’s last words to an alien planet in order to see what lurks beneath its surface. It’s the kind of setup I am so incredibly here for, and while the gameplay in the early going is somewhat prolonged and slow, the tension, world-building, and characterization of En and London make up for the methodical pacing.
Graphically, ECHO is stunning. Like the very best Ridley Scott movies (Blade Runner, Alien, even Prometheus), its set pieces are fantastic, and its lighting and camera work are top-notch. I’m putting as much time into the game as I can tonight because what truly intrigues me about ECHO is that Ultra Ultra’s big selling point is the game’s AI. You see, the enemy in ECHO is you – not only will you face down numerous clones of En, but they react to how you interact with them.
If you sneak, enemies will get stealthier, if you shoot, they will shoot you. The Palace (indeed the whole planet) soon gives you these “echoes” of yourself to content with, as you find your way through its labyrinthine corridors and unravel the mystery of your 100 years adrift in space and the man who saved your life.
ECHO is out today, and our full review should come next week. We’ll have many more thoughts on the game as we play through it all.