Echochrome II Review
Is light replacing time as the key ingredient in videogame experiments? If Lost In Shadow was a hint that working in the dark could take the platform-puzzler in a fresh direction, Echochrome II is the proof that it can.
Traversing the shadows behind foreground objects, your task is to get your ever-walking ‘Echo’ to a goal which itself is created by the overlaying of a circular shadow and a rectangular block. The implementation of the motion controller is simple and intuitive. Holding the Move button freezes your Echo and allows you to move the light source wherever you take aim, shuffling the arrangement of shadow platforms, steps and teleporting doorways. Hopping between each plane, walking and pausing for strategic consideration becomes instinctive, and the memory games of each level mirror those of PSP spin-off Echoshift. Ultimately, you’re playing against your own brainpower as much as the level designer’s.
The sense of empowerment is partly a trick of the light, however. Some of Echochrome’s preset levels are so intricate and baffling that you’ll rely, often with success, on random swirls of the controller to exploit your way to the end. It’s appropriate that you’re required to determine the exit door yourself – in many ways Echochrome II is less about adhering to the logic of the preset design and more about escaping any way you can. Part of the problem in later levels is the density of the overlaid blocks; even though they’re rendered transparent by your harnessing of the light, their ghosting still manages to hamper visibility enough to irritate. On the other hand, when the level design is clever, it’s really clever. One standout level is designed around the geometry of a padlock through which you feed your Echo like a key before unlocking the doorway to victory.
The sterility of the Echochrome world, with menus seemingly ripped from an architect’s notebook, is countered by an uplifting and enchanting orchestral score that’s a journey in itself, mirroring the emotional ups, downs and leaps of faith you go through in-game. As you waft and wave your way to the destination you’ll feel like the mad, brilliant conductor of a videogame symphony.
It may be a PSN experiment, but Echochrome II is no flash in the pan. The team has added longevity to the game, with a level creator that lets users easily publish and share original maps, replays and high scores worldwide at the click of a few prompts. It’s a polished, rounded package that is as functional as it is stylish.
Echochrome II isn’t just a delightful harmony of rhythmic pace and carefully considered design, it’s also the blueprint for how to build a Move game from the ground up. Down to the menus and interfaces – the glue of Echochrome’s world – it has been lovingly constructed with the user and the controller equally in mind. It’s clever without being intimidating, delicate without being volatile, and immediate without a sense of panic. More important than all of that, though, is that the first must-have Move game has arrived.