I don't know why, but Echo really reminded me of the 2004 game Everything or Nothing. Sure this is a shooter that deals with a lot of themes and learning enemies and the other was a Bond game where you need to save Moscow from microscopic robots, but the fighting, play styles and even wide open rooms was really familiar. And...well, let's jump right in.
You are En, a woman with a Sharon Stone haircut who, while having terse conversations with her AI, who comes to a planet that seems almost holy. As she descends down, she's suddenly confronted by creatures. At this point it seems almost normal for a game, but as you fight them, they start to do what you do. They're hearing you from your echoes (get it?) and they fight and act like you do. Your only hope is to outsmart your own sense of fighting. And something about bring back her love to life. Overall, it's an amazingly clever story, and is really fresh. It's always changing, while the goal in mind is the same: Save your man, and get the hell out of there. Full stars on the story.
The graphics are pretty great too. They all look a little too clean, with the palace either being bathed in white, or shrouded in darkness. But the detail is there. I mean really there. It's almost dizzying how good it looks. Especially on the design scale. The palace itself is every ornate palace come to life, and it's pretty amazing. Shooting and fighting can seem a little, well, video game-y in the patterns, and again, it's not quite lifelike (shadows are way off for one), but it is definitely stellar looking.
Gameplay was...interesting. The typical fighting and shooting goes on, but it was a little off. Like, enemies know when you do stealth it seems like, and shooting seems almost sure-fire. If you're used to shooters, the whole “They are learning from you!” thing can get erased if you shoot like crazy and expect them to do the same. You can set up their own game plan. Which is good strategy, but, despite it being very diverse and trying, it can seem like a cop out. But that's a nit pick really. It's troublesome in some spots, but generally gameplay is good.
Controls on the PS4 are fine and really weren't wasn't tricky at all. Ok, I'm getting off playing a bit of Madden and it took a little adjustment, but once on it becomes like any game. Shoot button, crouch, run, etc. Nothing too complicated.
The music and sound are great too. Any subtle horror movie, with just enough music to provide tension is here, but in the form of very slight, almost urbane beats to slow atmospheric bits. It's creepy, chilling and completely works. Sounds work as well. The voice acting is fine (points for having a slightly muffled vice when a visor is closed), and all those echoey sounds of running, walking etc. totally fit with the location.
The game also works like a charm. A few times the frame rate dropped, especially when En jumped off a ledge and the lighting went on (a lot to process), but otherwise it was on par. There was a glitch or two – the enemies running around would occasionally commit suicide by running off things or just wait on me beating another one of them senselessly instead of going in themselves, but yeah, besides things like that (which were far and few between) it was great as well.
I cannot recommend Echo enough. It's horror and suspense, but it's also full of action as a shooter. It deals with a lot of themes, some pretty complex, so if you're a thinker or someone who charges in head first, it's a game for you. I haven't had this much fun playing a game in awhile. I loved it, and I'd say it's definitely worth a try.
Final Score: 9.5 out of 10
A copy of this game was provided by SCEA for the purpose of review.