|System: PS3, PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Japan Studio (SCEJ)||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Sony||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: May 1, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
March 12, 2008 - Echochrome is one of those titles that you'll either love or hate. It is a puzzle-style game where your goal is to lead a little sketch model through some insane looking puzzles by using perspective. The most interesting thing about this title is probably the fact that it doesn't require any real action on your part; all you have to do is control the camera. But if that sounds simple to you, trust me it's not. This game is most definitely a challenging puzzle game, make no mistake. But after spending some hands-on time with the Japanese version, it is pretty clear that the fun in this title comes from experimenting with the different perspectives and figuring out how to get everything just right.
The demo starts off by giving you the five laws of perspective. These are not laws in the traditional sense, however. There more like helpful hints. The first law has to do with the transitive properties of each stage. Basically if you can move your camera in such a way that your little figure appears to be on a different path, then that is the path that he is on. You can also connect paths by changing your camera so that a hole in a path is not visible. The second law has to do with falling. If you able to change your view so that it looks like something is directly below you, you will land on it. The third and fourth laws are somewhat similar to the first and deal with paths with a hole or gap. If you can't see the hole or gap in the path, then it doesn't exist and you can walk straight through. The final law has to do with jumping, and is probably the most useful of the five. It says that by changing your perspective, if you can position certain areas or paths above a trampoline, then you can jump to them.
After the demo gives you examples of these five laws (with a playable example of each), you are then able to play through a couple of puzzles that test how well you were paying attention during the tutorial. While it is difficult to articulate how these puzzles actually worked, it suffices to say that these puzzles are not something you look at and just "get." For instance, when you're looking at a puzzle where you have to fit together shapes, you might be able to look at the shapes and just know where they should go. But Echochrome isn't like that. You'll have to experiment with different perspectives and try your best to play around with the different stages until something works. And while this trial-and-error approach might seem a little frustrating to some, I think it is actually what makes this game fun and different. One thing is definitely for sure, you've never played a game like this before.
Another thing that makes Echochrome a lot different than other games out right now is how simplistic it looks. While a lot of people looked at a title like N+ as extremely simplistic, Echochrome takes simplicity to a new extreme. The only graphics to speak of are black lines. There is no color, no background, no environments, nothing. It is literally just a sketch model and lines. This minimalist approach really showcases the gameplay, and it really proves that there is indeed genius in simplicity. Besides the amazingly fun gameplay and the minimalist look, the demo also showed off a pretty incredible score. The music has a very classical feel to it, and is the perfect type of music to help you concentrate on those more difficult puzzles.
Echochrome definitely looks like it is going to be a great title. It will be available sometime later this year for both the PSP and for download via the PlayStation Network for the PS3. It has a completely new and fresh approach to puzzle gameplay, and its perspective-based approach to puzzle-platform gaming is a complete blast to play. Although there is no US release date yet, it is slated for release sometime in 2008. I have to say that I'm really excited for this one, especially after spending some hands-on time with the demo. Hopefully we'll have an exact release date soon!
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Freelance Writer