Echochrome II Review

By on January 11, 2011

Step into the shadows to enjoy this unique puzzler for the PlayStation Move.


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First Impressions
My reaction is

Even with respect to the primary game mode (ie escort) most puzzles can be solved in several different ways. However this proves to be a double-edged sword in some respects. While you are initially inclined to set the path for the character to take, you soon realize that in some situations, by moving the light around you can essentially push the character around using elements from the level itself and sort of brute force him towards the goal. While this may sound pretty cool (and in many ways it is) it kind of adds a trial and error feel to the puzzle solving, decreasing the cerebral activity most gamers enjoy. It is, nevertheless, still quite entertaining but it lacks that awe effect associated with games like Braid and even the original Echochrome itself.

The game can also get quite frustrating at times, but not as a result of a really difficult puzzle but because sometimes things don’t behave as you’d expect them to. This is most apparent with the warping portals. The character can warp through doorways assuming 2 distinct doorway shadows are properly formed. The problem however is that this rule is incredibly ridged and sometimes, though 2 doorways may look properly formed, the character won’t warp or will enter one doorway and not reappear prompting you to retry the puzzle from the beginning. The latter also occurs if the shadow moves ever so slightly during the warp procedure, though even this is not a definite happening. These occurrences do not happen very often but often enough to be noticed.

Visually, the game looks less stark than the original though also less elegant at times. It must be said however that the look suits the game and the gameplay quite well. The way in which the shadows distort at corners is particularly noteworthy.

Fans of the first game will also be glad to hear that the ‘classical’ music score is still brilliant and so appropriately whimsical. The way the game looks and sounds is undoubtedly quite important to the developers and that is apparent in virtually every aspect.

Echochrome 2 also sports a create mode, though it is not as absorbing as you’d imagine it to be. While it seems simple enough to use at first, it is actually quite complicated and even more so if you are starting from scratch (not using a duplicated base puzzle). More importantly it is often not worth the effort. I spent somewhere in the vicinity of 2 hours making a level that could easily completed in less than 15 seconds. Still, the fact the they’ve included a creator and the ability to upload as well as play user-generated levels adds great value to the game.

All in all, if you own a Move and enjoy puzzle games of an alternative variety I would recommend the Echochrome sequel whole-heartedly. It is hard to see Echochrome selling Move controllers on its own and, to be frank, I doubt Sony expected it to. Still, Echochrome 2 is another solid addition to the growing collection of interesting and quirky ‘experiments‘ on the PSN. Hopefully it won’t be the last either.

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The Scorecard
GAMEPLAY
8
Solving puzzles is not as rewarding as you’d like it to be but the mechanic is interesting and the premise works well.
GRAPHICS
7.5
Appropriately simple but not as boldly so as its predecessor. Menus can be quite cluttered.
SOUND
9.5
Beautiful. A brilliantly composed soundtrack which, word has it, was recorded as just one long track. And what a track it is.
VALUE
7.5
Slightly more expensive than most PSN titles but it makes up for this with three game modes, a create mode and access to user-generated content. Yet despite this ‘wealth’ of content, you may find the variety is only really knee deep.
FUN FACTOR
8
Great use of the Move controller and an interesting game mechanic provides a unique and enjoyable experience.
OVERALL
8
While Echochrome 2 is essentially a ‘one-trick pony’, it performs this trick rather well and in doing so becomes one of the few good games available for the PlayStation Move. It may be less compelling than the original but it is no less fun.

About

As an opinionated young gamer many years ago, I made three predictions: 1- Sega would dominate the console wars for 50 years. 2- Simon's Quest would be remembered as the definitive NES game. 3- I would be gaming even more as an adult. I suppose one out of three isn't bad.

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