There Came an Echo
Top Critic Average
For now it's a game with a lot to offer, though mostly for players willing to meet its ambitions halfway. I can't help feeling that we'll see this speech mechanic refined and put to even better use somewhere down the line.
In this strategy game where you command real-time tactical battles entirely with your voice, the greatest threat is the voice recognition system itself.
The proof of concept is here, and I would certainly look forward to a hypothetical There Came an Echo 2 if it were announced. The groundwork has been laid, and with more content and finer polish it could be great. But knowing Iridium, the studio's next project will be something completely different, taking its science fiction stories into another unusual genre mashup.
All told, There Came An Echo is a journey worth taking. The story takes some unexpected — if sometimes uneven — turns, the voice acting is on point, and the advanced speech recognition Iridium Studios has developed is beyond promising. I fully expect them to have a secondary revenue stream licensing out this technology. Go buy it, go play it, go support indie developers who take risks in the name of unique gaming experiences.
There Came an Echo feels like more of a proof of concept than an actual game. The voice control does work well if you have the right headset, but it only goes so far in making up for the dreary gameplay on offer. And while the story is serviceable enough and the graphics are eye-catching, they don't do enough to turn this into a compelling game. If the idea of controlling a title using only your voice really does excite you then this may be worth a look, but if not, consider commanding yourself to buy a different game.
Innovation for the sake of innovation
Almost two years now since its successful funding through Kickstarter, it's clear from the game's design, the celebration video of the entire development team after you complete the game, and my personal communications with game director Jason Wishnov on some of the bugs I discovered during the review process (which were quickly fixed), There Came an Echo is a heartfelt endeavor from a small yet dedicated group. The voice recognition controls are probably the best any video game as incorporated, and certainly recommended over traditional controls. However, the overly abridged story paired with limited gameplay can't help but mark this venture as a work still in process. I will hope for an initial success, one that can provide the tight-knit team at Iridium Studios the fuel to continually improve this unique adventure. Best of luck to you.
There Came an Echo is the equivalent of walking through a desert for days before receiving an ice cream cone. Yes, water is definitely what this hypothetical traveler desired, but, hell, if that ice cream cone isn't wonderful.
A unique control scheme that was put a great deal of care to do correctly, shame the game it very short and a little bit simplistic in a few ways or it could have been excellent.