Echochrome (PSP, PS3)

As a random artist’s model with no age, gender, or life to speak of, you’ll find yourself with one purpose: to get out of the endless maze of strange and unusual worlds.

MC Escher is could probably be seen as one of the more unusual artists you can introduce people to. If you’re not familiar with his work, Google his name right now. Those who are familiar with his work – and I would hazard a guess that it would be most of you reading a review of this title – will likely already know why I’m making the comparison this early on.

Echochrome puts you in the shoes of a random artist’s model, a sexless figure usually used by artists to model characters and people off of to show limb and body movement. As the random artist’s model, you’ll find that you have no name, age, gender, or anything else to speak of.

Rather, you have one single purpose: to get out of the endless maze of strange and unusual worlds.

The worlds you occupy are black & white and constructed of simple shapes. Blocks will exist in front of you and around you and you will have to make your way around and to & from these shapes by looking at the environment in a way not previously thought of.

Much like the worlds drawn by MC Escher, all is not what it appears to be. While it’s not “walking up the staircase, walking down the staircase” as per what Seth McFarlane’s “Family Guy” would show, if you can think of a 3D version of Escher’s rooms in a world constructed of the most basic building blocks, you’ll sort of be getting the idea here.

With Echochrome, you’ll find that while a hole might exist in between blocks, if you were to cover up that hole, it ceases to exist. Likewise, if you change perspectives in Echochrome’s 3D engine and line up certain blocks, they will connect and allow your little artist’s model to traverse between them.

All of this acts as an easy way for the Echochrome engine to more or less say “look at this in a different way and a solution is possible.”

Because of this, Echochrome finds itself as a game about the most simple & basic things, a game where a hole in the ground might lead to an opening to a new way of looking. All that requires is a simple twist or rotation of the engine, something easy that not only changes the way you think about the puzzle but also how the puzzle changes within its own world.

As a result, the unusual shifts in ideas and understanding make Echochrome one of the most intriguing titles to ever be released, this said even when you realise that the developers of this created games such as Loco Roco, Patapon, and the upcoming The Last Guy.

You’ll get a few choices in the game for play including the ability to create levels as well as share them, but because Echochrome doesn’t have a proper single-player game and really just relies on you playing levels until you run out of patience, Echochrome also lacks to cohesion to be anything other than that of a casual game you play when you’re looking to throw your brain a curve ball for a while.

Because it’s all about simplicity, the graphics don’t have to be extraordinary with Echochrome adopting simple line art and lookinng beautiful while minimal. Sound heads in this direction too with very few sound effects scattered around the abstract yet calming orchestral lines running behind everything.

While it doesn’t sound like the sort of game most people would be interested in, I am recommending anyone and everyone to try it. Echochrome is odd and while not a game with a lot of long lasting staying power, it has loads of replay value and will have you coming back for more repeatedly until your brain stops working, or at the most, explodes.

Click to enlarge

Developer: JapanStudio
Publisher: Sony
Classification: G
Formats: PlayStation Portable, PlayStatation 3
URL: Echochrome

Reviewed by Leigh D. Stark