Published on April 23rd, 2015 | by Patrick Garde0
Dark Echo Review
Dark Echo is a dark, mature game for iOS (iPhone, iPad) and Android in which you see with sound. This top-down minimalist adventure from RAC7 Games requires skill, thinking and patience to advance, and is highly addictive and well balanced with few issues.
Unlike games with a similar sounding prospect, like Papa Sangre, there are visuals here. Players do not “see” with their ears like in other iPhone, iPad, and Android games, but when the in-game character makes a noise, sound waves bounce off the surroundings, showing an echo-location style map of the area while the sound exists. This system creates beautiful scenes, challenging maps and interesting gameplay. The entire prospect of only being able see when you make a sound is daunting in itself, and is even more challenging once enemies are introduced.
Like players themselves, enemies can only be heard when they make noises. More often than not, the enemy would only make noises when I did, and when it was actively hunting me. “Hunting” is the wrong phrase here, as the enemies (mostly) just go directly to the location the sound originated from. This fact makes multiple levels all about distractions. In fact, there was even a level called “distraction.” Being cautious, and quiet whilst blind is a thrilling venture when it is known that both the environment and the entities around you are out to kill you.
There is a loose narrative to the levels, and it can be found in both the titles of levels as well as in-game events. I won’t spoil it for you, but one of the main reasons I played as long as I did was so I could figure out just what the hell is going on. It seems that I’m not the only one in the dark. The levels are well balanced, starting at extremely easy and slowly ramping up to quite challenging and tactical. Even at level 20 there is the occasional easy level, but for the most part I have to change my way of thinking and going about for each new level. After about 30 levels or so it did seem to drag out, especially when little progress was made story-wise, and there were the occasional difficulty spikes that had me attempt the same level 20 times after flawlessly passing the previous game, but all in all, the main lineage of missions does well.
Dark Echo is literally about creating echoes in the dark so you can see where to go and what to do. After experimenting with this system, it works well, and it is both immersive and challenging. The subtle narrative is addicting, mysterious and enjoyable, and it instilled a very real (albeit minor) sense of fear in me. With very few issues aside from a drawn out mission layout, Dark Echo hits the mark.
Summary: Dark Echo is a well-polished puzzle game that may be classified as dark, mature, and a bit scary. It is a creepy yet creative adventure that strikes the right notes. For $1.99, this game from RAC7 Games is both interesting and engaging.