|Alcohol Reference, Mild Violence
| The Good
Some nice visual effects
Mood feels pretty dead-on
Solid adventure for those looking for a slower
| The Bad
Tedious controls and pacing
Very little in the way of action
Voice acting is mediocre, at best
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
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.