Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
It’s the middle of summer, you’re getting ready to make a movie with some of your friends based off of a script you wrote. You wake up, your mom tells you to hang out with your sister or forfeit the rest of your summer allowance. So stealing a traffic cone for your sister to get out from in front of the TV, the two of you and the house cat set out on an unbelievable adventure making you wonder what the hell is really going on in this town.
Seriously though, what the hell is up with this town? Echo Generation by Canadian developer Cococucumber is an RPG set in a small town plagued with… everything. Aliens, ghosts, killer puppets and racoons which will easily show you not to mess with their territory, this town has it all and you’ll get to experience all of it over the course of a few days of your summer vacation.
With Halloween just around the corner, Echo Generation is perfect for it as it easily hits light and fun vibes before going totally creepy in a Stranger Things kind of manner and it all just fits together. Featuring a pair of siblings as your protagonists, this adventure quite literally will bring you from one event to the next without really missing a beat as it’s all for some reason natural to those experiencing it. I mean they are aided by the talking house cat as a party member…
There are a few immediate notes that stood out for me in the demo earlier this year as well as in the full release. Graphically, Echo Generation uses a voxel base which is generally seen in more open worlds when developers want something more fleshed out than a pixel look as they happen to be a bit more versatile when going for that more “blocky look”. Unlike these more open world explorations with monsters or environmental terrains exploding and then showing the ground with the remaining pieces, this adventure uses it for visual appearance alone in a set isometric view. The graphical approach works really well though. Whether from your more human looking human NPCs to killer monster puppets, aliens or giant destructive mechanical beasts, everything looked like it fit and the voxel approach gave it just that little bit more realistic oomph in a world that is very far removed from reality.
Aiding the visuals for presentation is the second big item and hats off to the musical talent behind this adventure as there’s music for every type of fight in the various environments. From big mechanical monsters to secret government agents really looking like a famous duo (Reno and Rude even if it was probably meant for Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones), there’s a track for it. This makes each boss or story based fight feel unique from one another as while I love a good boss track, never knowing what you’re in for was something of a treat. The other part of this treat is that the music also seemed to fit the mood of the environment as well as the type of foe you were facing off against. Again, hats off for that.
Now getting into a bit of what worked both really well and at times not, is the exploration. While the events pushing the story work really well as they are all intertwined fetch quests in order to get what you need set up for your movie production, getting to those points is not always the smoothest process. Split between the suburbs, downtown, the forest, the farmland and the side of the highway with a few branching areas here and there, the overall space that this adventure takes place in is not very big. That part is not an issue as there will be lots of running back and forth trying to figure everything out. What doesn’t work so well on this though is that there’s no real way to keep track of anything and you often don’t really get hints as to what you should be on the lookout for.
There are perhaps two things that I would have liked to have. The first, would have been a journal to keep track of what’s been done and what items could potentially be used for what. The second, would have been a map of the area to know how it’s actually all interconnected as while you do unlock shortcuts after a while, there is no fast travelling and if you don’t know what you need to do, you’ll be combing through each and every area to figure out what you missed. Oftentimes? It may already be in your hands but you didn’t know it or know how to use it.
It wasn’t the end of the world as I did finish my adventure with almost everything to be obtained in under twelve hours, but a lot of that time was spent running around trying to figure out where to go, what to do, and then potentially grinding for experience as combat can be rather unforgiving and this town? After a few beatdowns several bad guys stop coming out to play a la Dark Souls 2. So grinding for experience isn’t exactly easy making you really have to know the ins and outs of your party and their skills as items cost money, and with no bad guys, there’s no money, so if you want to really keep moving you’ll have to backtrack a lot to the three beds around town in order to fully heal up.
Combat itself though? Stupid amounts of fun. Not a single attack in anyone’s repertoire from the protagonists to their companions (the house’s cat, robot, dog, raccoon, alien jackalope) is straightforward and it’s entirely a hands-on experience. From the standard attack over to throwing ninja stars, shooting hockey pucks, throwing wood axes or rubbing a balloon for a static attack, everything has its own input sequence. Pressing a button at the right time, making a star fall into the right basket, pressing the right sequence of buttons on the controller, moving a reticle into the right space, and so on. If you want to do real damage, you need to pull off these sequences otherwise you’ll never win. Think of it as a 2021 version of Sony’s The Legend of Dragoon.
To keep things interesting, as all attack patterns require input, so do the defensive ones. Whether single attack or party wide, you’ll have to perform an action in order to reduce the amount of incoming damage. For the most part, it’ll be hitting the button at the right time as it’s kept simple enough. Other times though, for gatling gun styled attacks, you’ll have to press a sequence of buttons and hope to not get it wrong. For super large foes, there can even come a time where you have to literally move the party out of the way or risk getting crushed. It really is stupid amounts of fun once you get into it as it always manages to keep you in the action instead of have you sit in a passive role and hit “A” repeatedly to attack until the enemy is dead.
So overall, fans of RPGs, fans of the occult, fans of aliens, ghosts and crazy science experiments, I would seriously recommend checking out Cococucumber’s Echo Generation especially over Halloween which is the perfect time for this kind of story. Well written dialog and an interactive and engaging combat system supported by an amazing soundtrack, this is going onto my Game of the Year list.Score: 8 / 10