Reviewed: May 27, 2008
Released: May 1, 2008
Have you ever looked at or seen an M.C. Escher painting and wondered how in the world he created those masterpieces. Well youíre not entirely alone. Escherís impossible works inspired the workings of Oscar Reutersvšrd and his impossible constructions. Escher designed paintings around impossible constructions while Oscar designed just designed over 2500 impossible constructions before his death.
So what does two men and the impossible have to do with video games? Well glad you asked and Echochrome is the answer to that question. Echochrome is a puzzle game where physics and reality depends on the perspective. Believe me when I say things are never what they seem with SCE Japanís newest endeavor.
The first thing to understand is that Echochromeís gameplay is based on the Object Locative Environment Coordinate System developed by Jun Fujiki which is an engine that determines what is occurring based on the camera's perspective. So in laymanís terms, what you see is actually real.
The object of this title is to navigate an articulated wood mannequin to visit particular locations in any order the player sees fit. These locations are marked by 'echoes' of the main. When the last marked position has been visited, one further echo appears which must be reached in order to complete the level. Your overall score for that level is based upon how quickly you traverse these truly ingenious puzzles.
However, the character cannot be directly controlled by the player: it moves autonomously, following a path along the surface of each shape in a manner which keeps the path's boundary on the character's left (that is, in order of preference, turning left, proceeding straight ahead, turning right, or turning back on itself).
The unique aspect of the game is that the path can be altered merely by rotating the shapes and viewing them from a different perspective: for instance if a gap or obstacle is obscured, the character will behave as if the path continues behind the object which currently obscures the gap or obstacle from view. Similarly, if discontinuous shapes or parts of the same shape appear, from the chosen camera angle, to form a continuous path, the character will traverse from one to the other.
Although the character cannot step off the surface of a shape, there are certain points where it may jump off or fall. It then falls downwards to whatever appears to be below it, or off the bottom of the screen to be rematerialized at a previous position. This behavior forms one of the most compelling aspects of the game because the player must deliberately interpret the three dimensional world as if it were two dimensional in order to determine where the character will land.
Graphically Echochrome is simplicity itself despite its intricate puzzle workings. Echochrome is done in crisp white and black presented in 1080p and looks nice for its simplistic design. The only other thing that I can add to this category is that the levels while they look cool they are very well designed in Escherís classic style.
To complement this masterpiece, the music of Echochrome was composed by Hideki Sakamoto and is perfect for this title. The classical tune of the music makes for a relaxing adventure as you twist and turn the camera angles to traverse Echochromeís wicked puzzles.
Echochrome features 56 levels of reality bending puzzles that will have questioning your powers of observation. Besides Echoís main game mode there are two other areas for players to explore. One is the Freeform mode where one of the 56 puzzles are selected at random from the core downloads or from the developer selected downloadable content created by other players.
This is one of the value perks of Echochrome. With and endless sea of imaginative people, there will be no shortage of new material to try to rack you brain on.
This brings me lastly to the Canvas mode in which you can create your own levels in a 38x38x38 space. Here you can get a better feel for the way Echochrome works. You can start small and end up with one of the most twisted puzzles imaginable. The game is your playground, so get started.
Overall Echochrome is a very interesting puzzle game. The simplicity of the Echochromeís look is slick and the puzzles are imaginative and well designed. There havenít been many puzzle titles in recent history that have the complexity that Echochrome does. You can get Echochrome via the PlayStation Network for a mere $9.99. I recommend this title to anyone looking for a whole new type of puzzle game.