There Came an Echo Review
There Came an Echo Box Art
System: PC
Dev: Iridium Studios
Pub: Iridium Studios
Release: February 24, 2015
Players: 1
Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p

Despite the shortcomings of the story and gameplay, the voice recognition in There Came and Echo is absolutely stunning. Your vocal navigation can begin directly at the title screen, testing out the responsiveness by audibly scanning through all the options screens. I sifted through my collection of American and European accents in an attempt to stump the system, but apart from some egregiously drawling dialects, the game has accurately accepted my commands. In the heat of battle, as long as you remain calm, speak clearly, and don't shout, you'll have your squad obeying every command. Something as complex as, "On Mark 1 Miranda move to Echo 13 and focus on [enemy] 6" is followed by a compliance from the character. The game offers you traditional controls, opening a radial menu to input commands, but they are far more time consuming. Voice controls are easily the input of choice, and worth a try by even the most devout mutes in the gaming community.

There Came an Echo Screenshot

The environments are mostly sterile in design, but that is more a stylistic choice based on the technology-centric backdrop. Structures and character models lack fine detailing, but are colored in a crisp pattern of metallic blues, green, and reds. The interface is very clean, with the important markers on each board easy to discern for quick voice commands. The weapons fire animations can at times be frenetic, making you lose sight of who's attacking who, but a handy list of recent voice commands is displayed in the top right of the screen as a reference.

The musical collaboration of Ronald Jenkees and Jimmy Hinson (aka Big Giant Circles) is a match made in science fiction heaven. Basking in the bliss of the piano and synthesized orchestration at the title screen in quiet reverence for minutes on end should be expected. The melodies, both subtle and pronounced, effectively deliver the tone of the game that the script pushes too quickly to appreciate. The voice acting from Wheaton, Burch, and the rest of the cast is also well delivered.

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Almost two years now since its successful funding through Kickstarter, it's clear from the game's design, the celebration video of the entire development team after you complete the game, and my personal communications with game director Jason Wishnov on some of the bugs I discovered during the review process (which were quickly fixed), There Came an Echo is a heartfelt endeavor from a small yet dedicated group. The voice recognition controls are probably the best any video game as incorporated, and certainly recommended over traditional controls. However, the overly abridged story paired with limited gameplay can't help but mark this venture as a work still in process. I will hope for an initial success, one that can provide the tight-knit team at Iridium Studios the fuel to continually improve this unique adventure. Best of luck to you.

By
Sean Engemann
Contributing Writer
Date: February 24, 2015

RATING OUT OF 5
RATING DESCRIPTION
3.5
Graphics
Though lacking fine details, the visuals accurately paint a picture of our not-too-distant future. The animations are smooth, yet a little frenetic during the heat of combat.
4.5
Control
Near flawless voice controls are the distinctive feature, which trumps traditional controls in spades.
4.4
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Gorgeous original compositions that capture the essence of the story and the authenticity of technology-centric future.
2.7
Play Value
A story full of high concepts yet too brief to embrace them, and gameplay that needs a larger injection of features and player freedom bring down the game's value.
3.8
Overall Rating - Good
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
Review Rating Legend
0.1 - 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 3.5 - 3.9 = Good 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair 4.0 - 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Experience an epic single-player campaign that focuses on plot and character development over the course of the game.
  • Utilize a robust voice command system, or use standard keyboard/mouse/controller methods
  • Customize every command, unit, and location in the game to literally any word or phrase
  • 20+ track original score by Ronald Jenkees and Big Giant Circles
  • Numerous language models supported, including various English-language accents and foreign languages.

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