Going back in time
It shouldn't really come as much surprise to learn that ECHO is another of the plethora of Myst
-style games which sprang up in the wake of that classic adventure's massive success. This one is a little different as it's something of an edutainment title and while it's no must play, it's decent enough for a few hours gaming. This one takes place in prehistoric times, in the famous Lascaux caves of France, where stunning artwork has been found dating back thousands of years. You play the part of a young hunter/gatherer who is part of the community which created these paintings and who is on the lookout for his mentor, which forms the basis of the story. The gameplay itself is familiar stuff, being a point-and-click adventure based around exploring and solving puzzles of varying kinds. There's no real freedom of movement but you can scroll around each location 360 degrees, while the educational element is found in the various encyclopedia entries which you collect and which also acts as clues to solving some of the puzzles. ECHO is far from being the best the genre has to offer and is a far cry from Riven
and Zork Nemesis
, but it remains a curiously compelling experience. This is perhaps due to the unusual setting which certainly drags you in, even if the story itself isn't that wonderful. The puzzles are generally solid and well integrated into the gameplay, although there are some that feel a little disconnected. The visuals are fine and although this won't take you that long to complete, it remains an entertaining experience.