Pretty much all my friends and family who are gamers are currently addicted to GTA IV. That’s super cool and all, but for me no dice. Instead, I’ve melted into the frustrating, confusing, and utterly beautiful world of echochrome and I could not be a more happy addict.
This game is super tits peeps. Super.
echochrome is, for me, a perfect game. It combines seemingly simple lines and imagery with profound spatial problems which can be solved in a variety of ways, you just have to think of them. When I played the demo I was entranced by the music, the gameplay, and the beauty. But all my going gaga over how it looks and feels means nothing without explaining the whole point of the game.
It’s connect the dots, well, connect the Avatar with the Echoes. In this world there are five laws of perspective. Perspective Traveling dictates that if you can line up one pathway with another than they are actually connected and your character can move between them. A slight rotation can change an entire pathway, even if one level is high above another. Perspective Absence, which means that if you can’t see something it does not exist. If there is a gap in the pathway simply move the field of vision to block the gap and then your Avatar will walk across no problem. Perspective Landing, which means that if there is a black hole in the ground your character will fall directly below the hole. Place the hole above where you want to fall and you will fall there. Perspective Jump is exactly what is says and means when the character walks across a white circle on the ground they jump directly above (I still haven’t mastered this one yet). And Perspective Existence, which means that if there is a jump pad or hole in the ground if you block it by changing the view than it does not exist.
The laws determine what you can do in each level. There are fifty-six levels ranging from A level to G level in difficulty. I’m still in the middle of the Bs myself but man they’re already getting hard. Of course, I say that not having exactly the most spatially organized mind in the world. For those of you who love spatial puzzles this game is like the Holy Grail.
If the difficulty range isn’t enough to satisfy you, then create your own level! A level creator usually means nothing to me. D and Toku are the Dungeon Masters in this crew, but I tried it out just playing around adding holes and jump pads, making irregular shapes that don’t make sense in reality and stringing them around one another in an asymmetrical pattern (which annoys me to no end since I love symmetry). Then I played my seemingly impossible and random dreamscape. Huzzah! Success! Within a short period of time I had reunited three Echoes and won my map. I actually didn’t believe it. What I had thought was nonsense became sense. The unreal solidified in clear cut lines of logic. Really the only word that can describe my surprise is “agog”. I was agog. I was delighted.
For the same reason I feel I can’t play chess, I don’t feel I’m very good at design or map making. This game proved my insecurity was without merit. I truly believe that a newbie like me or a master like Toku can create maps that will work because this game engine’s sole purpose is to make sense out of nonsense. The five laws of this world defy your own senses and understanding of physics and open your mind to another reality. That is excellent game play. That is excellent game design.
I’ve spent hours focused and concentrated on this game, some times getting frustrated and having to move on to another map before finally figuring out another. But that is amazing to me, that wonderful brain workout that you’re not even aware your mind is going through because you are so entangled with the play. I actually feel really good each time I finish a map. Like it’s almost like a rush of adrenaline. I get a rush figuring out a “simple” puzzle! Brilliant.
This game is one of my favourite games so far this year. While all my friends are off being Niko Bellic I’m perfectly happy to stay a faceless, nameless, colourless Avatar. The game is available on the PS3 and PSP, I have both versions for home and mobile play. The PlayStation Store recently realigned their prices as well, so now Canadian prices are an exact match with American ones. Awesome. Both versions retail at $9.99 and I have to say, at the price of two Venti Soy Chai Lattes, that’s a perfectly fair trade for me. I spent way more on Brain Age and I never play that anymore. Math can suck it when I have to actually do it.
Spatial problems with no multiplication necessary?