|System: PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Artoon||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: SONY||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Feb. 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Pending||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Adam Brown
January 12, 2010 - There aren't many who would argue that Echochrome isn't one of the most unique gaming experiences around. This PSN puzzler based on rotating your perspective, such that your walking marionette was able to make his way through elaborate and seemingly impossible 3D M.C. Escher-styled environments, challenged many gamers to think way outside of the box. Continuing in this tradition, the sequel, Echoshift, will once again put players to the test, only this time you won't need to maneuver the camera, but instead will be manipulating time and your surroundings.
When learning from one's own mistakes, most will claim that hindsight is 20/20. In the case of Echoshift, hindsight is what the gameplay is all about. In this game, players are placed in various 2D levels and given a short time limit, usually between twenty and thirty seconds, in which to get their marionette from their starting point to an exit door. However, the trick here is that you can't possibly make it to this door within the initial time limit. That's because the entire crux of Echoshift's puzzling levels are based on taking multiple runs through each level and using Echoes of your past marionettes to help clear and create the path.
This concept shouldn't sound completely foreign to anyone who has played titles like Ratchet and Clank Future: A Crack in Time or Braid, both of which used similar ghosting mechanics to solve puzzles, but it does function slightly differently in Echoshift. Instead of having direct control over the recording of your Echoes or time itself, you'll just maneuver your marionette to where you think you'll need them and wait for your time limit to run out. Once the clock ticks down to zero, you'll begin the level again with your next marionette while your previous attempt will repeat itself with an Echo version of your character.
In this sense, solving levels in Echoshift will not be unlike completing a series of smaller puzzles in order to finish a larger objective. Here's an example of some of the puzzle-solving you might see in Echoshift. Say you're at the beginning of a level and there are two chasms and a wall that prevent you from reaching your exit door. On your first play through, you'll need to take your marionette into the first chasm to stand on a switch, which covers the top of the chasm with a platform. On your next play through, you'll need to wait for your first attempt's Echo to stand on the switch, allowing you to cross over the first chasm in order to step on a switch at the bottom of the second to create a cover for the second chasm. Your next try will involve finding the third switch, which once stepped upon will make that pesky wall obstructing the exit door disappear. Finally, on your fourth try you can watch as all of your Echoes work their magic, completely clearing your path, and then make your way to sweet victory.
Since you are given a total of nine attempts in each level, there is definitely a decent amount of room for trial and error when trying to figure out how best to make it through Echoshift's increasingly more difficult levels. However, you will be rated on your performance based on how many Echoes you used in order to make it to the finish, so getting there in the most efficient way possible is certainly best. There will also be par scores set up for each level, so anyone wishing to match these predetermined limits will need to choose their actions and movements very carefully. Thankfully, you won't be required to make any snap judgments because before every level and between every attempt you'll be able to scroll the camera around, survey the environment's layout, and come up with the best strategies without the added pressure of a ticking clock.
Perhaps as interesting as the actual concept of the game itself is Echoshift's understated, yet still beautiful, visual style. Similarly to Echochrome before it, Echoshift is very minimalistic when it comes to presentation. The marionette character, as well as most of the level's architecture (including the ground, stairs, walls, etc.), are all made up of plain white polygons. However, where Echoshift really sets itself apart from its predecessor in its visuals is where it does use color. The switches you'll need to press as well as the platforms and/or walls that they affect are all color-coded, providing focal points for the player's eyes. The backgrounds for each level also make use of colors, ensuring the environments seem somewhat less drab than those of Echochrome, and making everything that's white stand out that much more.
While the example of a level I gave earlier was pretty basic, the puzzles in Echoshift are sure to challenge even the most adept players by the end of the game. With over forty levels to begin with and more being made available through downloadable packs after its initial release, Echoshift should also provide a good amount of longevity for those looking for some mind-bending, puzzling action on the go. As a fifteen dollar portable puzzler, it's hard to see how you could go wrong with a title that looks as interesting, unique, and challenging as Echoshift. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for this game's eventual release, currently slated for sometime this February.
CCC Staff Contributor