tl;dr -> If you want a cheap game to play during your acid-trip, Echo will serve your tastes fairly well. 11/10 for repeatedly reminding me of the moose-avatar in the Hannibal TV series.
I got this game in a bundle, and was very excited to play it because of my love for survival/crafting-style games. Admittedly, I was a little turned off in my initial playthrough, however, after giving it another chance, I quickly dove into a refreshing, novel experience.
If you like survival/crafting-based gameplay, psychedelic-lite aesthetics, and an introspective storyline, then you will really enjoy this game.
The aesthetics are good - the detail in the environments and character models is well-done; the more psychedelic scenes are also great (and may take you aback if you haven't seen any screenshots). The ambient noises and sounds are good - in particular, I appreciate the change in tone whenever the vibe of the scene transforms (usually into a dream-like sequence). The story is very nice, and anyone who enjoys introspection and philosophical thinking should be satisfied with the game's message - I personally felt that the game was in no way pretentious or overly-aggressive in portraying said message(s).
I have a problem with the controls, and I think the main culprit is the poor optimization between controller and keyboard - when you edit the keybindings, it will only allow you to do this for the keyboard. Using a keyboard is okay - and perhaps even recommended - however, the controls are very counter-intuitive if you are used to playing videogames and choose to use a controller. I have played a lot of game throughout my life, and Western norm is for the right button (circle/B) to be the exit/cancel key, while the top button (triangle/Y) performs that action in many Japanese-based games. In Echo, the default gamepad controls are (in inventory management): x/A -> drop; circle/B -> Use; square/X -> exit. It takes a bit of getting used to, as I would constantly be dropping/using my items when I didn't intend to. The game makes an attempt to be ergonomic- the A, S, and D default keys are green, red, and blue in-game - however, when you rebind the keys, you will still see the letters A, S, and D inside the in-game keys (you can turn the key hints off to prevent confusion). A suggestion - having the three command keys spread out in the actual layout on a controller (if key hints are enabled)will take up space in-game, but will be much more ergonomic.
The controls will take a bit of getting used to, but the tutorial mini-mode will be extremely helpful in getting you familiarized with the gameplay. The learning curve is minimal to moderate depending on your experience with survival games - I will caution, however, that this game can be unforgiving if you do not plan your days in advance. Do not be surprised if you die during your first few playthroughs - once you understand what to prioritize and how (ex: "forgetting" initially useless areas), your games will last considerably longer.
Gameplay consist of you trying to survive each day/night while trying to progress the storyline. You usually have enough time to scout 2 new places on the map, however, you can only "remember" one area per day. Remembering a location will allow you to revisit it from then on. I recommend you do not remember places with one-time spawns (ex: an area with a LOT of fruit bushes), as only certain things respawn over time (like trees and shoots). You can also "forget" areas to clear up space on the map. If night time arrives, you will be unable to interact with any objects in the environment unless you have a torch. Your two main priorities are to secure a food/drink source (starving will decrease health over time) and a fire source (you will lose health if you sleep without an adequate fire).
During your journey, you will be treated to story elements that add a lot of interesting scenes. There will also be special structures that allow you to donate food in order to receive crafting recipes (extremely useful). Saving is fairly unique, and also requires a food donation. Note, you must locate these special structures first. Death offers you the slightest chance to continue, but you should never gamble on this chance (instead, focus on not dying). The goal of the game is to return home after some life revelations/insights
. Endless mode has been taken out by the developer, which is something that I miss (although a new game+ is in the making).
Overall, Echo is a great game for any survival/crafting enthusiasts, and this game should definitely be given a try if you are interested in the genre.
DJSF @DJSF's Rogue Reviews