Echo Night Beyond
Game Info
Platform(s)
Playstation 2
Publisher
Agetec
Developer
From Software
Genre
Adventure
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Alcohol Reference, Mild Violence
Grade
The Good

• Some nice visual effects
• Mood feels pretty dead-on
• Solid adventure for those looking for a slower paced title

The Bad

• Tedious controls and pacing
• Very little in the way of action
• Voice acting is mediocre, at best

 
Grade
C-

The Echo Night series is one that proves to fall far from the tastes of mainstream gamers. I can't say that it isn't without good reason. The first-person action (if one can call it action) sets the player into a game world where they encounter a variety of ghosts, some malevolent while others are just obstructions to be overcome. Even though the game is delivered in first person, there are no weapons to be found. Players must survive on their wits alone.

The story setup is pretty bare-bones: as Richard Osmond, you are on a shuttle to the moon base, where you and your fiancée, Claudia, are to be wed. But, the shuttle is mysteriously attacked and crash-lands into the station, killing everyone but Richard. Being the good ole survivor that he is, Richard heads into the station to find it deserted, except for the crapload of ghosts floating around, which, of course, mean he has to find out what is going on.

From a gameplay standpoint, Echo Night Beyond is pretty simple. Players find themselves moving around the station, running into the occasional spirit and picking up clues and items along the way. Most spirits are pretty stationary and will move when you give them something of a personal nature. These benign ghosts can be handled with merely an exercise in fetch-questing. When you find yourself in more fog-effected locations (apparently the fog has properties that drive the ghosts mad), you'll find yourself under attack by these spirits. While they technically can't physically harm you, they can drive your heartbeat off the chart, which will end up killing you. Like with the stationary ghosts, you have to find ways to make these spirits happy, but these events prove to be more intense in resolution.

Even though the game features three control schemes, all provide a pretty slow-paced walk that can be "sped up" by holding down a run button. For those who are used to first person shooter controls, you'll be pleased to find a scheme to your liking. Even though you can change your controls and run with the use of a button, the controls still feel stiff and excessively slow. This may be intended, but it's still something that makes the game feel more tedious than it needs to be. Also available is a button to open the item menu and another to turn on your flashlight. It may do you good to ration out usage of the flashlight batteries so that you don't find yourself in the dark later on.

With the game being played from a first person view from within Richard's space helmet, there is a certain degree of claustrophobia that can be gained if you are really drawn into the game. That, in itself is really one of the true emotions that can be evoked from playing Echo Night Beyond. While there are ghosts here, not unlike Fatal Frame, none of them really present themselves in a horrific manner. You're more likely to be affected by the lonely quiet of the station than you are the spirits.

When it comes to the graphics, I'm rather torn about whether I like them or not. The problem I find is that maybe the graphics work too well. The cold, gray confines of the station feel drab and sterile, but oddly enough, fit the intended location and mood all too well. These are accented with a moderate sprinkling of lighting effects that force the player to rely on their flashlight in certain locations. Fog and ghost effects are nice, but don't really do much to impress. One of the nicer effects is how your vision is obscured when under attack by a ghost. Some locations feel more detailed than others, giving a more lived-in feeling, whether this is intentional or not. Probably the biggest drawback to the game is how blocky and underdetailed the character models are.

The audio portion of Echo Night Beyond falls right in line with the graphics — oddly bare but appropriate for the locations given to the player. Sound effects are done well enough with what little action goes on during the game. There seems to be little to no music, and what music there is proves to be so bare-bones that it never really stands out. Voice acting is adequate in delivering lines, but proves to be too stiff to actually put any emotion behind the words being spoken.

Echo Night Beyond is one of those games that you kind of know whether you'll like or not. It has some qualities to it that certain gamers will like. The gameplay is slow and for the most part, laid back, not unlike PC adventure titles like Myst and Syberia. If you can forgive the game's faults, there is something to enjoy here. Just don't expect to be able to shoot anything along the way.

- - Vane

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