Echoes is an episodic mystery game with a distinctive style and where your choices impact the gameplay. The first episode is called Greanhearth, and drops you right into a dark & gritty world as you find out the story behind detective Rocky Fox investigating a murder. Let’s take a look.
Type of app: Interactive Mystery Adventure (HOPA) game
Platform/where to buy: iPhone/iPad; available in the iTunes App Store
You are Ricky Fox, a brilliant detective from NYPD. Your best friend, Arthur Petrovski, a renowned psychiatrist, just passed away in strange circumstances and you travel there to make your own investigation.
Freshly arrived in Greenhearth, a small rural town in Oregon, you meet a strange bunch of weird characters, and you realise that the town is full of secrets.
Will you find the murderer?
• Discover a rich and dark universe inspired by film noir movies and comic books, with gorgeous graphics and an incredible music fully recorded on an acoustic piano.
• Make your own adventure, interrogate the persons of interest and find clues in detailed interactive research scenes.
• Ask the right questions and manipulate the suspects to untangle the truth from the lies during the interrogation sequences.
• A brand new adventure each time : the clues, the behavior of the characters and the story possibilities are different each time you start a new game.
There are three major elements I love about Echoes Episode 1: Greenhearth: the graphics, story and the gameplay. OK the soundtrack is pretty awesome, too. But let’s take a look at those three things individually.
Graphics: Ten years ago the game XIII used realistic graphics but done in a graphic novel style. It was a novel concept at a time when most people were just pushing as much realism as possible. With Echoes, the game is a dark and shadowy mystery, and the graphics are done in grayscale to go along with it. It provides a film noir feel to everything you do, and really combines perfectly with the soundtrack to set up an ambience that adds to the impact of the story.
Story: The story is told in a ‘let me take you back’ style, starting with you as a crazed former detective at the beginning looking back to the events that happened as you investigate the death of your friend. There are shady characters, hidden agendas, people who need specific things to loosen their lips and so on.
From the very first day you are left wondering whom you can trust and what is true in the things you are hearing. Then you learn things that conflict earlier statements and events become less and less clear – and the only thing that is certain is that there is much more going on than anyone will tell you.
Gameplay: The bottom line is that you need to progress the story or you are booted back to the start of the day. You make progress by visiting locations, asking questions, going to other places and continuing to dig for answers. You need to push, but if you push too hard you might lose any ability to question the person thoroughly again.
I love the feeling of emergent gameplay through the questioning mechanic even though the game and story are mostly linear. Well, that isn’t completely true as there are multiple possible endings, but the branching is fairly limited. The ability to chart multiple paths through a day really forces you to carefully evaluate what everyone is saying.
The power of a great mystery game is that it can make you feel like a sleuth while leading you down an established path. Echoes Episode 1: Greenhearth does a great job of telling a story in an engaging way with a distinctive style, making it a unique experience on the iPad and a highly recommended game.
Ease of use/Overall performance: If you have ever played a mystery game on the PC you will have some idea what to expect. I remember playing one with my wife – an early CD game of Sherlock Holmes mysteries, where you could actually get stuck – just like in this game.
Would use again/recommend?: Definitely! I enjoyed knowing that sometimes I would pursue a line of questioning that would simply close a door and the person wouldn’t talk to me the same way again.
Suggested changes/wish list for updates: Nothing
Source: Publisher provided review code