ECHO

Game review by
Neilie Johnson, Common Sense Media
ECHO Game Poster Image
Unique sci-fi adventure with flawed smart enemies.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Mysterious objective is morally ambiguous.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Heroine's a runaway, compulsive gambler with a conscience.

Ease of Play

Progress requires patience, strategy.

Violence

Violence can often be avoided, but there's blood, death by shooting, blunt force, strangulation.

Sex
Language

Occasional curse words like "s--t," "bitch."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that ECHO is a downloadable sci-fi action-adventure featuring occasional cursing and some blood with the potential for lots of violence. Players can choose stealth over shooting, and this minimizes the bloodshed, but they can also choose to shoot, bludgeon, or strangle an array of human-like characters. Otherwise, there's no inappropriate content.

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What's it about?

ECHO revolves around a young woman called En -- a compulsive gambler and repeat runaway -- who's determined to use alien technology to bring a dead friend back to life. Trained by her grandfather to be an extraordinary warrior, En arrives on an alien planet after a hundred years in stasis to search for a legendary palace. Having heard about the palace from her grandfather, she believes the tech she needs to revive her friend is somewhere within it. What she doesn't expect are the devastating secrets also hidden there, secrets that reveal uncomfortable truths about her grandfather and the Utopia he was building.

Is it any good?

This unusual action-adventure game proves it's still possible for interactive entertainment to break new ground. It also proves that good writing and strong gameplay are worth more than a pile of different weapons, locations, and characters. ECHO has only one character: the girl En. There's an AI (artificial intelligence) voice in her head and loads of AI clones after her, but she carries the weight of the game on her shiny armored shoulders. Fortunately, her futuristic flapper look and amazing voice performance (provided by Game of Thrones' Rose Leslie) make it look easy. En has great dialogue, thanks to some brilliant writing, and her story is excellent, thanks to good pacing. There are high-tension shoot-and-sneak sequences that alternate with slow walk-and-talk plot development.

There are also gorgeous environments and innovative gameplay. Everything takes place within an AI-controlled complex that has a timed light/dark cycle. During the light, the AI learns from your example, so if you shoot a gun, at the start of the next light cycle, they will too. The only way to avoid making things harder for yourself is to move when it's dark. It's a tricky rhythm to grasp at first, but once you do, you'll feel like a deadly elite warrior. The only thing detracting from it is the uneven AI. Despite their ability to learn, their knowledge remains somewhat unpredictable. This makes it hard sometimes to get them to follow you or to know how to lose them. Still, it's not a huge deal compared to everything else. This is a uniquely literate sci-fi adventure, one that anyone looking for something different is sure to enjoy.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the pros and cons of AI (artificial intelligence). How does it help us? How could it hurt?

  • Discuss how technology increases human life span. One day, could technology make us live forever?

  • Think about the moral consequences of creating thinking machines. Do they deserve the same rights as humans?

Game details

Themes & Topics

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For kids who love science fiction

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