I’ve always found games like 3D Dot Game Heroes and Octopath Traveler to be visually incredible as they take 2D pixel designs and bring them to a 3D world. Developer Cococumber has found a nice niche in this approach through their previous release Riverbond, and are now bringing it to their newest adventure Echo Generation. This single-player focused RPG experience takes elements of popular media such as Stranger Things and IT to create a neighborhood of mysteries to solve.
The demo of Echo Generation would be shorter if it weren’t capped off with a pretty tough boss, but we’ll get to that later. In this early demo, players are allowed to explore their in-game neighborhood and experience the adventure’s opening moments. Something just isn’t right about this setting, which is seen early on with missing children signs posted up and that neighbor who is definitely burying bodies in his backyard.
Regardless, you get the sense of gameflow as you collect items to use around the neighborhood that grants you access to new areas. For starters, your sister wants a street cone for her room. Once you get it for her, she’ll join your team, which allows you to fight against a group of raccoons blocking your path. It seems to be this way for at least the openings as you’ll need some item to progress the narrative and unlock other areas. The entire demo has you looking for Christmas lights for some character, which will lead you to the boss.
Battles are super cool in concept. However, I feel like they really need some fine-tuning to get the most out of them. You have to press a button to add damage to an attack or defend against an enemy. However, this window is so tiny, and there’s no lead up to it, meaning you simply have to press the action button as soon as you see it. If you miss it in either case, you will suffer greatly. The battles are challenging if you aren’t hitting these button prompts to the point where enemies can one-shot you.
After each level, you can choose where to increase your stats, which I mostly paid attention to HP and Attack. There are skills that you can discover, but these consume SP. Now here’s another issue with the battle system. The timeline of attacks is simply you take a turn, and then the enemy takes a turn. This makes the party feel more like one character since you choose which character attacks each time. However, this limits the effectiveness of healing because right after you heal, you’re going to be attacked, which pretty much was just you wasting a turn.
The battle system is fun and intuitive, but there needs to be a proper implementation of turns where the party can strike, and the enemy will respond. Furthermore, I never once saw a Miss take place, which would have been a saving grace in some circumstances. The demo’s end boss is tough and caused me to grind a few levels to defeat him with an inch of health left. I don’t mind the difficulty, but I feel like the battle system relies way too heavily on the attacks the enemies use, well-timed button presses, and enough health to withstand the fight.
Other elements of gameplay have some adventure systems where you encounter puzzles and find secrets. The world is entertaining to explore, and I feel like the graphics and chill music have a lot to do with it. One thing I hope is added is more interaction with your party members. After I added my sister to the team, she didn’t say a word, which she probably should have when we found blood on the repair shop floor.
Echo Generation is going to be an adventure that will stay on my radar. It’s looking like a game that I can easily get lost in and spend hours solving the mysteries of my neighborhood. The battle system is fun for now, but I feel like it can greatly improve with more QA. Still, I like the high difficulty, but I’m sure others would appreciate an easy setting.
Echo Generation is coming to Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC-via Steam in 2021.
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