echochrome – PSP – Reviewed

3 min read
5

By Philip Dunkley

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echochrome, echochrome, echochrome. How on earth do I describe this game? Let me start by explaining this. We’ve all seen optical illusions, the 3D block kind, where it looks like a stairway is going up and down, but end up on the same level. Well, this is what this game is based on. It’s based on the art of M.C. Escher, and it takes puzzlers to a whole new level.

Basically, you need to guide a mannequin from one side of a 3D puzzle, through a bunch of different “echoes”, and finally end up at the goal point. Simple as that. How do you do this? Simply, and I use this word very loosely here, by rotating the perspective of the camera on the screen. Make sense?? Didn’t think so!!

echochrome is a puzzler through and through. It has no fancy graphics, has simple stick drawn mannequins and wire frame levels, is set in black and white, so don’t expect any frame rate issues.

Basically it works like this. Your mannequin starts walking by itself; you don’t control the mannequin at all. What you control is perspective. What you see on the screen is (This is not a Typo -PD).  As your mannequin begins moving, you need to alter the camera’s perspective, so if you want it to fall through a hole onto a different ledge, move the camera to make it look the ledge is under the hole. If there is a gap on the ledge, and you need to move the mannequin past that gap, put something in the view of the Gap, and the magically, the gap is gone, purely because the gap can no longer be seen.

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That’s it, and when I started, that’s exactly what bothered me. Is this really it? Surely there must be some cool adventure coming up, or some slick graphics in between. But there isn’t any, and all of a sudden, 6 Hours had passed, and I was as hooked as ever.

It’s difficult, really difficult at times, and when you finish a level and get it right, a huge sense of achievement is felt, purely because it’s ingenious the way it works. Then you begin to realise that the art, in its simplicity, is fantastic, and the ambient sounds are drawing you further into the game and relaxing you more and more. It’s a trip not meant to be missed.

I can’t go into any fancy story based review here, no witty comments about graphics and clipping, and certainly nothing about how crap the weapons are sounding or the crowd is not realistic. It just is what it is, and that’s what makes it so good.

If you are a fan of puzzle games, give this a serious look, it will boggle your mind for hours and hours, and the fact that it has a level editor just makes the value of this game increase. This is a title that I believe will one day become a collector’s item, never a mainstream product, but I think that’s what the designers wanted, but it will sit proudly in my collection, one I would happily pay for.

Scoring:
Gameplay: 9/10 [Frighteningly addictive]
Presentation: 8/10 [Very Simple, Very Elegant]
Sound: 8/10 [Relaxing]
Value: 9/10 [Will keep you busy for a long time]
Overall: 9/10 [A Masterpiece not designed for the masses]

Last Updated: July 15, 2008

Gavin Mannion

I for one welcome our future robotic overlords

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