GAME REVIEW: THERE CAME AN ECHO / DEVELOPER: IRIDIUM STUDIOS / PUBLISHER: IRIDIUM STUDIOS / PLATFORM: PC / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Past experience has shown that unconventional controls rarely end well. Despite the monolithic success of the Wii with casual gamers, the perpetual train wreck known as the Kinect has solidified that the tried and true methods tend to be best. However, There Came an Echo is one of those very few exceptions to break away from controller or keyboard without sacrificing any quality.
Set in the far flung future, the story follows Corrin Webb, a cryptographer and creator of the seemingly unbreakable algorithm known as Radial Lock. Drawn into an unseen shadow war, Corrin must ally himself with a small band of mercenaries to learn just what his creation is protecting, and why someone is so determined to kill him.
On the surface, There Came an Echo looks like a very basic Action RTS. You’re able to offer specific instructions to a handful of characters and move them between key points, with an emphasis upon staying behind cover. What makes it stand out however is the fact the game is fully voice commanded, having the player control their units purely by delivering orders. So yelling, “Webb, advance to Point Alpha while sustaining fire on target four” will have him do just that, and the quality of its detection proves to be astonishingly astute. Better yet, the options menu allows players to completely alter entire orders, character names and even the most basic commands to different prompts.
This system proves to be surprisingly intuitive, forcing players to think far more on their feet and react in a way games have not offered to any great quality prior to this. It’s a real test and an uphill battle despite the game’s simplicity; a big part of which is down to the fragility of each unit and how quickly the player has to issue commands while reacting to new events. While it might be a gimmick in some respects, it’s enough of a one to remain thoroughly entertaining.
Unfortunately, without voice command the game is unfortunately easy and its simplicity works against it. It’s little more complex than the common or garden mobile time waster, and can be blitzed through without much trouble. In addition to this, the story is very uneven, as while some concepts shine through and scenes build immersion, others are just filled with dead air.
On the whole however, There Came an Echo remains a definite success. Its control scheme remains engaging enough to keep the player going, and there’s some definite fun to be had battling your way through its dystopian environments. At its absolute worst, it’s an engaging proof of concept; one which is well worth the price of purchase.