Echochrome is a puzzle game, however it breaks the usual tried and tested mould by letting the gamer change and alter the in game perception to solve the puzzles. These optical illusions are rather unique within the puzzle world and the focus is entirely based on wireframe style graphics.
A series of platforms are presented mid air against a backdrop of pure white. In the midst of these platforms is a wire frame persona who continually walks along the current platform, accompanied by four shadowy echoes of that figure in various sections of that particular level.
The game mechanic is rather simple, you start at a specific point in the level and you have to collect all of the echoes in any order and then return to the starting point before the time runs out. The twist? Well most of these platforms are separated by gaps which can make the figure fall, and there are also jump pads which point the figure in a new direction.
If you are as confused as I was initially then you will be pleased to hear that there is a tutorial explaining the five laws that govern the game world and how they can be applied. These are (in no particular order), Perspective Landing, Perspective Travelling, Perspective Absense, Perspective Existence and Perspective Jump. These dictate how the player can manipulate the camera (and therefore the world) to complete the various levels.
Perspective Existence for example allows the player to rotate the world so that a piece of a platform blocks the appearance of a gap and Perspective Travelling is the ability to move the camera to make distant platforms appear to be connected together. This may seem rather weird when described in raw text, however once you get used to this methodology it does all make sense.
All five laws combined give an extensive amount of versatility to the environment especially when used in conjunction with the controller. The square button for example lets you use a “snap” lining up various platforms easily. The Triangle button will stop the wire frame character moving which gives the player a chance to rearrange the environment, this stops the guy falling through a hole and off the screen. However, even if he falls off you can save him with some fast adjusting of the game world, you can speed this up with the R1 button letting you catch him on another section of the world. If you become an expert with this it is even possible to deliberately let him fall so he can be moved to another section of the puzzle.
There are three different modes, Freeform, Canvas and Atelier which let you fully explore the world. Freeform lets the computer randomly select eight levels from the games default set of 56 stages. You can alter the difficulty of the current puzzle by using the directional pad to select from one of five levels. If you make errors you can retry the level however if you find the current puzzle too tricky you can skip it and move onto the next one. I like this concept because it lets you pick and choose the levels you wish to play.
Canvas mode is basically a level creator and you have six elements to select from: echoes, stairways, basic cubes, wire frame, blocks with holes and jump blocks. Apart from a 38x38x38 box limitation your imagination is free to create any environment you wish and it adds a nice edge to the game. When you have finished your level you can then play test it to make sure it is solvable and after you are happy it can either be shared with friends or uploaded to the Sony servers.
The final game mode, Atelier is split into two different sections, Portfolio and Gallery. The Gallery mode lets you browse all 56 stages and then explore it so you can set a level best time. You can also select an entire group of eight levels (ranked from A to G on difficulty) and then try to set a best time over the created course. The Portfolio mode displays stages that you have personally created in Canvas mode beforehand.
As I mentioned earlier, Canvas mode gives you the option of uploading and sharing your level creations with friends, however you can also download new levels from around the world which you can randomly insert into the Freeform mode if you so desire and as the game was released early this year in the Far East there are already a plethora of stages available. The best of these have been taken by the game designers and immediately made available to new players enhancing the number of levels. The only downside is that these particular levels are only available via Freeform mode.
Graphically the game is not going to tax the Playstation 3, however the simplistic wire frame graphics have a very stylish quality and just enhance the core element of the title, the addictive game play.
The audio front is covered with some wonderful music courtesy of a haunting violin which plays throughout the game and enhances the atmosphere considerably. There are some ambient noises as well as a female voice offering you guidance and support.
echochrome is a classic puzzle game which should appeal to a large section of the Playstation 3 audience, if you liked flOw this should be right up your alley. It’s simplistic nature and addictive gameplay offering a compelling game experience. At a mere $9.99 it certainly offers good value for money and should not be missed.
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