Featuring an elegant black and white art design, echochrome is a puzzle game unlike any other. With gameplay based on optical illusions, players must utilize 5 simple laws of perspective to join walkways, hide dangers, and create new paths to reach the goal.
No of Players: 1Released:2008
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Review – by Keith Murray
With the advent of services such as the PlayStation Network, it’s fair to assume more inventive and interesting titles would be making an appearance. One game that definitely falls into this category is echochrome.
Essentially a puzzle game, the player is charged with guiding an artist’s mannequin around increasingly mind-bending mazes which conform to the Object Locative Environment (OLE) Coordinate System. The mannequin hunts for “echoes�?, which are dotted around the different mazes and collecting them is required to progress to the next level. Luckily the player can stop to “ponder” their next move with a press of the triangle button and move the camera around, looking for the right way to manipulate the maze to aid progression.
The concept of OLE was originally developed by Japanese designer Jun Fujiki, who in turn was inspired by M.C. Escher, the famous 19th Century Dutch surrealist painter. The concept of eye tricks makes it so objects drawn at one angle have one meaning, while looking at it from another can give it an entirely different one. While this goes a long way to explaining the principle of echochrome, its easy to lose track of the fact that this is a game, but it’s also where it differs from most titles out there.
Echochrome does a very good job of making you feel as if you need a diploma to get to grips with the concept, let alone the game play. Once embraced, the player soon develops strategies and learns to manipulate the various aspect of OLE to their will. Realising that, if a pillar can be moved and it fills the gap then the gap itself no longer exists and the mannequin can traverse it with ease, is a moment to savour. Until the next maze loads up and there is the dawning realisation that it was nothing more than a small victory as an even more impressive level is presented to howls of psychological pain.
The MENSA-testing doesn’t end there, as there is a level editor bundled in. This can cause just as much confusion building, testing and trying to implement the most basic of levels with which to share across the PSN service with other users if you so wish.
Unfortunately echochrome seems destined to have a minimal appeal purely because of its stark minimalist approach, coupled with its pseudo-European art-house soundtrack, and producing a disturbing allure which will put off more people than it will enthral. Those willing to give it a chance will find a baffling but intense game which deserves recognition for being brave enough to go beyond the usual gaming staples.