echochrome • Page 2

It's Escherly not that amazing.

At this stage the other controls become useful, like the ability to stop and "think" by pressing triangle, or to snap beams together with the square button in order to reduce the fiddly process of aligning them perfectly. You can also rotate the camera faster by holding R1, or have your avatar walk faster by holding X. When you fall through a hole or throw yourself into the air, you can allow your little man to fall away and rotate the camera so that he descends around corners and into gaps. Success, when you utilise this expanded range of abilities and logic, should be sweeter.

Except it's not, and it's because echochrome may appear magical from a distance, but once you understand how it's done, and have played through a few dozen levels, the novelty wears off, and all that remains is the rather cold process of grinding away until some combination of the game's five laws guides your little man successfully between his objectives. Even the most imaginative levels - and some of them are ingeniously constructed - are rendered charmless.

As the weariness starts to set in, minor quirks in the controls become seriously irritating. The "thinking" button is a bit unresponsive, and since you often want to use it to check your movement just before your man reaches the tip of a ledge and turns back on himself, that delay is frustrating. The "snap" button doesn't always work the way you expect, either, and certain edges refuse to align except in particular positions.

Worse for the game's long term prospects, the ability to toss yourself round corners and into awkward spaces is too difficult to master, because even with the ability to change camera rotation speed, precision is difficult to attain; the analogue acceleration and inertia needs to be closer to something like Halo's aiming, but is rather rudimentary instead. And despite the inclusion of rankings, you can't upload replays. A system similar to RedLynx Trials 2: Second Edition, with near-instant replay downloads and closely integrated leaderboards, could have encouraged more competition over times, in spite of the other problems.

3
Some of the levels spell out words. This one doesn't, we just thought we'd mention it.

All of which is a shame, because as a magic trick to show other people, echochrome is tremendous. The white levels use nothing but black lines to describe each platform, pillar and gameplay object, and gentle string music plays over the top. Elsewhere, using the "canvas" level editor, it takes five minutes to put something together (figuring out the relationship between the d-pad-controlled cursor and the camera is the only stumbling block), with Sony to release bundles of the best uploaded examples as free downloadable content.

There are also times, albeit few, when the artwork by Dutch artist MC Escher that inspired echochrome in the first place shines through. As the perspective shifts across a particular axis, up becomes down, and your brain spasms slightly as it struggles to process the seemingly contradictory information. I'll remember playing echochrome most for when it did that. Otherwise, at USD 9.99 in the States, it does enough to warrant the score below, but don't be surprised if it doesn't mesmerise you as much as the videos did when you first saw them.

7 /10

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About the author

Tom Bramwell

Tom Bramwell

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Tom worked at Eurogamer from early 2000 to late 2014, including seven years as Editor-in-Chief.

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