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Playstation games software Reviews
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Echochrome 2 review


Manufacturer: Sony Computer Entertainment of America

Our Rating: We rate this 3 out of 5

Echochrome 2 is the sequel to one of the most distinctive puzzle games on PlayStation 3, but has the well of inspiration run dry?

If you played Echochrome, you might not care that its sequel, Echochrome 2, is compatible with the PlayStation Move motion-controller. Indeed, you might want to know just what the hell Echochrome even means. The original Echochrome was a game about manipulating your view of the game world in order to create pathways across seemingly impassible terrain via tricks of perspective. It was all very M.C. Escher-ish and tres moderne, but Echochrome 2 eschews Escher for a different sort of manipulation - light sources.

In Echochrome 2 all of the gameplay takes place in the shadows. Each level consists of a light source that is obscured by a variety of blocks. Your goal is to move the character - a mannequin that walks constantly forward - to each level's exit by manipulating the light source so that the blocks cast shadows that allow the character to get there. A great deal of the gameplay involves cleverly maneuvering the shadows to build bridges, stairways, elevators, and even the exit itself - all of which is done by pointing the PlayStation Move controller at the screen to indicate where you want to focus the light.

The difficulty ratchets up quickly. Adding to that learning curve are the game's other two modes: one that requires you to collect "ghosts" of the character from multiple points on the map, and another that asks you to make characters of different colours walk over different portions of the map, thereby colouring them according to a paint-by-numbers schematic. These two modes add some replay value on their own, but Echochrome 2's simple and elegant "create" functionality allows players to easily make and share their own levels as well, which should lead to a huge amount of replayability down the line.

However, there's a simple question you should ask yourself before playing Echochrome 2: do you find this kind of game fun? There's no action here, and very little in the way of things to do. Some people like to be pitted against the level designer with a simple goal, but some folks might become very bored, very quickly. It doesn't help that the game has only one sound effect (the sound of the mannequin's footsteps) and an incessant, Sims-esque soundtrack that, in my opinion, is trying way too hard to sound coffee-house cool.

The Move controller is also a strange addition, because the game requires very little in terms of kinetic energy and even less in terms of multiple simultaneous actions. I can understand the logic behind it: pointing a light into a light box feels slightly more intuitive if you're holding a flashlight-shaped object, but Move compatibility is a strange thing to emphasize given its implementation of the gameplay. Regardless of control scheme, though, you're not going to be in any danger of exhaustion here. The word staid comes to mind. Placid.

Now, don't get me wrong, tranquility does not equal boredom. Echochrome 2 is a successful puzzle title with an interesting enough hook - and it definitely won't leave too big a hole in your pocketbook, either - but just how long that hook actually, well, hooks you is a question for each individual player. If you're looking for a brain-teaserish time waster this might be just the tonic for you, but if you're expecting a fast-paced or varied puzzler - or even the original Echochrome's interesting tricks of linear perspective - you'll probably be disappointed.

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Echochrome 2 is only available for PlayStation 3
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