alexametrics
Reviews

Review: Echo Generation - a critical hit of voxelated nostalgia

Published: 15:00, 20 October 2021
Cococucumber
Echo Generation - review | AltChar
Echo Generation - review | AltChar

Cococucumber's latest indie offering is an engaging adventure game with turn-based combat, interesting characters and a heartwarming sci-fi story.

What you need to know

  • What is it? Echo Generation is an indie adventure game with dynamic turn-based combat.
  • Reviewed on: PC – Ryzen 5 3600x, AMD RX 580, 16GB RAM
  • Developer: Cococucumber
  • Publisher: Cococucumber
  • Release date: October 21, 2021
  • Available on: PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S

Having watched its release date trailer, I went into the experience of reviewing Echo Generation dreading it's a horror game. Luckily, my serious dislike for the genre was somewhat outweighed by the game's similarities to Disney Channel's Gravity Falls, a mystery-comedy animated television series I thoroughly enjoyed re-watching a couple of months ago. With this in mind, I chose my character because she resembled Wendy from the aforementioned show and set out on my adventure.

Cococucumber Echo Generation's charater slect screen, and the model I went with. Echo Generation's character select screen, and the model I went with.

STORY

Echo Generation's is a heartwarming story about a lazy summer in the suburbs. Set in 1993, the kids of Maple Town depend on their wild imagination and, in this case, their love of horror movies to fill the sunny days and cosy nights. The player character is obsessed with comic books and is actually writing a script for a sci-fi dread-fest of their own, with plans to shoot it at various locations around the neighbourhood.

Without revealing too much, Echo Generation's story is set into motion when a giant explosion occurs in the Cornfields near the area and prompts the player character and their little sister to go out to investigate the strange occurrences that follow the crash.

GAMEPLAY

Echo Generation starts with you picking your in-game avatar and giving them a name. One thing you'll quickly find: you can totally forget about your mouse in this game: everything is done on the keyboard (or via the controller). I personally went with the keyboard route (to my cat's utter delight as she could finally fall asleep on my right arm).

Being a 2.5D game with voxel graphics Echo generation doesn't bother you with stutters or framerate drops. There are no loading screens once you start playing, except for short fades to black when you wander off into a different area.

The gameplay loop is simple but pleasant.

Echo Generation's gameplay loop is fairly straightforward: find an item, exchange it for something you need to advance the story and fight some monsters. However, finding the right item and then delivering it to the correct person is sometimes easier said than done.

Inspired by old school adventure games, Echo Generation asks its players to think a bit outside the box and find some creative solutions to the problems they are facing.

Each time I got stuck in the game, I ended up trying a bunch of different strategies, throwing everything at a wall and hoping something would stick. If all that failed to clear my path forward I'd take a short break from the colourful world and come back to it later: the answer would always welcome me back, and I'd feel silly for not seeing it sooner but also very proud I managed. That said, I did hit a few roadblocks I didn't have the luxury of figuring out on my own because of the looming review embargo but the devs in the Echo Generation Discord were more than helpful.

At the beginning of my playthrough, I echoed (hehe) the sentiments of players who tried out the demo and mentioned that a map would be a nice addition to the experience. Now, having gone through all of it, I do not think a diagram of the area would add to the experience but the option to toggle a map on and off wouldn't be the worst idea ever.

Cococucumber Echo Generation's combat - get ready to read fast and tap the buttons even faster. Echo Generation's combat - get ready to read fast and tap the buttons even faster.

Echo Generation's combat will keep you on your toes.

Let's talk abilities. Comic books peppered around the world are the only way to learn new moves in Echo Generation. This fits perfectly with the theme and setting and the books themselves are not hard to find but the game doesn't really tell you what mini-game quick time event you'll have to perform in order to get that sweet Critical Hit and maximum damage. Some kind of training area or a dedicated menu tab where the players can read about the unlocked abilities and see a quick gif of how they work in combat would do wonders for the overall experience as I've found myself reverting to the tried-and-true attacks in lieu of trying out a new one because I was worried I'd waste my skill points.

GRAPHICS AND MUSIC

As previously mentioned, Echo Generation is a 2.5D voxel graphic experience that looks good enough to eat. There were some points in my playthrough when I got a serious urge to go waste some time with Play-Doh.

The folks over at Cococucumber really know how to set the mood and mere screenshots don't do justice to Echo Generation. There was a couple of instances where I got genuine goosebumps.  

This was the most atmospheric game I've played in a long time and its retro art style is only one piece of that puzzle. Echo Generation's music direction flows from the upbeat sounds of the suburbs over the more ominous noises of the Junkyard to the downright creepy vibrations in other, more spoilery parts of the title.

Cococucumber Echo Generatio - a mysterious mystery is about to unfold. Echo Generation - a mysterious mystery is about to unfold.

I personally wish the cassette tapes you find on your journey played a bigger role in the overall experience but the couple of instances where you do get to use music to trigger the continuation of the story fit perfectly with the intended narrative and feel.

FINAL THOUGHTS

At $24.99, Echo Generation is an indie game more than worth your time and money. Players who decide to hop on the bus to Maple Town will easily get a couple of weeks of leisurely play after work for their money, topped off with a truly wholesome story.

All this said, Echo Generation does require its players to think a bit more than we're currently used to, and some may run into a couple of snags along the way, but even that adds to the experience, and solving the puzzle of where to go and what to do next is a huge part of the charm.

I can honestly say that Echo Generation made me a better, more perceptive gamer and warmly suggest you give it a spin.


Big thanks to Stride PR for providing us with a review copy for this game.

The Good

  • A delicious retro art style
  • Engaging story
  • Nostalgia factor
  • Rewarding puzzles
  • Dynamic combat

The Bad

  • Easily missable Quick Time Events
  • No training options for new moves
  • Can't pet sidekicks
9/10

Our Rating

Excellent

Latest Articles
Most Popular