Echochrome

Echochrome is the only store title I've seen so far that promised far more than it was able to deliver. The concept was simple, but interesting: a level in this game involves simple walkways, ramps and pillars, sometimes connected together, often with gaps, in black and white, where there is a start point for a humanoid character and a goal. The level is complete if you can allow the humanoid character to navigate to the finish point. The person will walk forwards by default, stop at dead ends and can manage turns. The game's twist is that, if you can't see something, it generally doesn't exist. As a result, if you hide a gap in a walkway behind a pillar (from the viewer perspective), that gap no longer exists). Similarly, if two disconnected walkways are angled in such a way that they appear to run continuously, then they are assumed to be joined, and the character can walk safely across. It's one of those Tetris-style pure concepts that takes a simple idea and does something interesting with it. In much the same way as Tetris, there's huge potential for this concept to become incredibly complicated and involved, with strategies that, despite the simplicity of the problem, require great thought to find an elegant solution.

Echochrome

The problem is, it doesn't work very well. The puzzles are there, as is the solution, and there really is huge scope for really interesting things to be done, but the game is absolutely cripped by the most irritating camera in Playstation Store history (and possibly gaming history). A quick example should describe the problem. If you've decided to alter your perspective so that two disconnected ramps join together and moved the camera accordingly, you'd expect that your work is done. The hard part should be figuring out the move in the first place, and plotting subsequent angular alterations to continue the attempt at the level. Not so. Despite the fact that your character is not being shot at, not risking abduction by aliens, not hijacking taxi and not flying through an asteroid belt, all things that other in-game cameras have coped with in the past, the camera in Echochrome will suddenly rotate to a different position. Perhaps the camera is tired, and wishes to sit on a nearby pillar. Perhaps the camera thinks it has spotted something interesting. Or maybe the camera is just evil. Whatever the reason, it means the game has two challenges: beat the level and beat the camera.

If I'm honest, there's not too much point continuing, since there's no way I'd recommend this purchase (though it isn't an expensive mistake to make really, at less than five pounds). Still, in case you really enjoy fighting cameras (perhaps you don't believe in optics and wish such abominations to be cleansed or something equally unusual), there are a few other points worth making. First up, there's the option to use your imagination to come up with something of your own using Echochrome puzzle ideas. Using a level creator, you can try and outwit other players by posting your trickiest concoctions. Of course, the best way to make a tricky level isn't to create a tricky puzzle element, it's simply to figure out what really gets the camera excited. If you manage that, it's probable that nobody will ever take the time to complete your attempt, and that's a shame.

Echochrome

Overally (a new word to celebrate terrible cameras), Echochrome does a lot of things right. It's a clever idea that is ideally suited for release on the Playstation Store. In addition, the level sharing is the sort of thing big-hitting games like LittleBigPlanet are supposed to be pioneering in 2008. If the camera wasn't such a spiteful little puzzle spoiler, the game would probably be one of my favourite store titles. As it is, I'd rather spin in circles for thirty minutes and then try to throw pieces of paper through basketball hoops - both activities might leave you feeling a little bit sick.

Game details

Game logo

Publisher:

Sony

Developer:

Sony

Players:

1

Online:

Sharing

Release:

2008-07-10

Trophies:

10

Review summary

Gameplay:

Ruined by poor controls

Graphics:

Simple but effective

Sound:

Decent effects and voice tutorials

Lastability:

Lots of challenge if you can stand the controls

4.8

Asteroid

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User comments

MeteorStorm

20:52:22, May 11 2009

Recent updates have fixed some of the camera issues in this game, though it's something that should have been done far sooner. It certainly makes the game a lot more playable, but there are still camera twitches to be wary of.

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