When the original Echochrome was first released on the PSN over 3 years ago, it came with a distinctive niche appeal. The visual style, the music as well its Escher-esque gameplay were all elegant as well as original. However it came at a time when gamers were still waiting for those major titles that would justify the existence of Sony’s pricey gaming-monolith, in other words, the complete opposite of what Echochrome seemed to be.
Three years on and Echochrome 2 finds itself in a very similar position yet for a different reason. Unlike the original, Echochrome 2 requires the PlayStation Move controller (released only a few months ago). And while the Move is by no means a flop, many gamers are still waiting for that Move ‘killer app’ that would justify the purchase, especially considering it’s over 4 years behind the Wii in terms of its software catalogue. As interesting a puzzler as Echochrome 2 may be, it still can hardly qualify as that killer app.
The actual gameplay mechanics of Echochrome 2 are a bit different from the original although the same ‘what looks possible is possible’ premise still applies. The world of Echochrome 2 revolves around light and shadow. By shining a light on the convoluted geometric structures on the screen, you cast a ‘flat’ shadow on the wall and this is where the character will walk. The objective is to guide the character to the goal by moving the light position and, in turn, the path the character is to take.
Since the light source is controlled with the Move controller, it essentially works like pointing a flashlight at an object to create interesting (and in this case, traversable) shadows.
Naturally puzzles get more and more complicated as you progress and they begin to require extra care as moving the light around randomly can either get the character squished in between walls or cause him to plummet to his demise due to the ground shifting out from under him. There is also the added layer of unlocking ‘shadow art’ which is basically the silhouettes of different things (such as a robot or the sun) made by shining the light on an object from a specific position. A nice touch perhaps but it does not make for sustainable gameplay in itself. Echochrome 2 does however have new game modes besides the classic ‘escort’ mode. These additional modes namely ‘echo’ mode and ‘paint’ mode bring a little variety without really mixing up the core game mechanic. In ‘echo’ mode (a style of play reminiscent of the first game) the objective is to guide the character towards collecting each echo (a ghostly looking projection of the character himself). Paint mode is slightly different and resembles the general objective of the iOS game Zen Bound. Colored characters walk along the path, coloring the ground under them (or more precisely the objects that’s shadow is being trampled on). The puzzle is cleared when a certain percentage of the overall level structure is colored. As mentioned earlier, these game modes do well to provide some variety to the gameplay as each existing puzzle can be played in all 3 modes.