Echoplex is a challenging and thoughtful firstperson puzzle/platformer that was released as a completed game in March of this year. It won “most innovative” and “Best Art Direction” on its early release last year at Indiedome in Europe. Echoplex features an intriguing live-action story sequence that was, in my opinion, very skillfully put together. It definitely helps that the gameplay is rather enjoyable as well.
The story is doled out in small one or two second clips in non-linear order with a rather peculiar set of events. Echoplex follows the trials of a man who works at “Clonochem” and gets trapped into an endless loop inside the memory retrieval and integration program or “M.R.I.P.”. He recieves aid from a small group of people that left him a phone number to call, so they could help break him out of the program.
To be perfectly honest the story is somewhat hard to follow due to the small amounts you get at a time, but interesting none-the-less. I do wish they would have elaborated a bit more as well, but the end seems to leave it open to continue the story, at least in my opinion.
Echoplex has an exceptional amount of enjoyment stuffed into (compared to many other titles) a relatively short game. Even with the amount of times I had to attempt a level I still completed the game in under 6 hours. My biggest complaint about it though is the movement seems slightly drifty, for instance you wont stop right away when you let go of the walking key.
I also happened to notice that the keys would not always engage right when you press, it is possible however that it was a fault of my keyboard, though I strongly doubt it. Aside from a few minor bugs that can be expected from a small time indie game though the challenge of the puzzles made it quite satisfying to make it through to the end. The gratification of unlocking little pieces of the story is pretty nice too.
Although simple the developers did a fantastic job at making Echoplex pleasant to look at. Using a small array of colors and mostly black and white gradients the only real detail comes from the live action cutscenes that are used to tell the story. I suppose its a good thing you don’t really NEED detail to make an enjoyable game.
The audio is pretty restricted though, essentially consisting of what i can only describe as white noise and computerized beeps and blips. Aside from the occasional intrusion of a voice that sounds too familiar that is. All in all I do wish they would have done a little more in this regard, they could have used some EDM (electronic dance music) in the background or even had a little more interaction with the in-game AI, or added a little more texture to your surroundings im not sure, it just seemed slightly lacking.
As I mentioned above, the responsiveness of the controls seemed drifty, making it hard to make your charactor move in the exact way you need them to. This was especially disheartening due to the fact that at least half the levels were time based, with any single wrong move ruining your entire run.
Another issue was with the keys not engaging when you needed them to. For example, a well timed jump could be ruined because the game did not pick up the space bar push, so instead I fell off an edge being put right back at the beginning having to listen to that shrill AI for the 30th time.
I wish I had a little more positive things to say about this but I was more then a little irate after the same problem insisted the entire way through the game. For that however I will offer the possibility that it was my equipment, but I highly doubt it.
This was where I would say Echoplex gets a gold star, the later half of the game was exceedingly strenuous. The amount of thought that went into some of those puzzles was impresive, the loops of the play area confused the hell out me, and the drones were near impossible to avoid once they spotted you. I cant imagine being able to run through every level and pass every single one your first try, you have to get a feel for what exactly is going on in this “memory retrieval”, and to be perfectly honest, on the last two levels I needed help solving them just so I could get what was left of the story in time to write this review.
I love a good challenge and the developers at Output games certainly delivered this.
Like most puzzle games I have played in my years of gaming I find it difficult to want to give it a second go. There is no real challenge to doing so since you know how to solve the puzzles and there is little to no gratification from a second completion. The only reason to go through again would be to pick up on a few details from the story but the actual gameplay is rather dry.
There are time trials and leaderboards so it IS a bit like an arcade game in that respect, so if you enjoy trying to beat a high score you could probably sink a lot of time into this game, but for me once was enough.
Written by Kevin Varner
Kevin is a 20 year old gaming enthusiast who has always enjoyed a wide array of games from shooters to platforming. some of his favorite games include Halo and Rainbow Six Siege though not the most talented player can still log countless hours into them. He enjoys reading classic literature and more modern journalism.
His two favorite authors are Hunter S. Thompson and George Orwell, and also his inspiration to want to be a writer. He always enjoyed the way that words can paint such a vivid picture in the readers mind and wanted to be able to do that himself. He also enjoys Hip-Hop, long boarding and working on computers.