Echochrome's designers return for more puzzle-solving, switch-hitting goodness.
Echochrome's unique design turned heads when Sony released it for both PlayStation Network and the Sony PSP last year, intriguing folks with its mind-melting puzzles and quirky black-and-white visuals. So it was obvious that Artoon was hard at work on a sequel. Little did we know, however, that it would take an all-new perspective with Echoshift.
Conceptually, the game is roughly the same. You still have to get from point A to point B, using jump pads and activated switches to cross areas and avoid danger. This time, though, you don't complete the task on your own. Instead of using the camera as your ally, you'll rely on ghostly figures, which you send on different paths using the d-pad. When one of these characters completes its journey as you see fit, it continues to do the same thing as you move on to the next apparition.
Up to nine ghosts are available for each stage, so there's plenty of room for trial and error. However, you don't want to screw up too much, since there is a three-star rating for each level. The less men you use to figure out the path to the exit, the higher the rating. The first few stages are easy to beat, but as you progress deeper into the game, things get tricky. Near-impossible gaps and obstacles could spell instant doom for one of your nine lives. There are 63 levels in all (nine worlds divided into seven stages apiece), and getting to the final tier is a huge pain.
Unlike Echochrome's free-roaming 3-D camera, Echoshift uses a strict 2-D side-scrolling view. At first, this may seem like a step backwards, but in terms of design, it's rather ingenious. Everything is easy to see on a stage, from the comforting exit door to the brightly colored switches to the visible silhouettes of your ghost walkers. The camera stays fixated on your current character, so you can keep an eye on what you're doing without anything getting in the way. Furthermore, Artoon provides the option of surveying a level before going into it, as you try to figure things out. On the later stages, you'll definitely want to do this.
From what we've seen, Echoshift looks good and has extraordinary potential, but we're left to wonder about online features. Will the game have the option of uploading and downloading custom levels? Is DLC a possibility? Sony has yet to answer these questions, but we expect Artoon to include a little something extra for us PlayStation Network users.
Echoshift doesn't have a specific release date, only a window of spring 2010. However, we do know that the game will sell for $14.99, a reasonable price considering the amount of gameplay. We'll post a review shortly after its release.