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.
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.
There Came an Echo rivals some of the greatest sci-fi thrillers in terms of story. I would've liked to see the gameplay expanded upon a bit more, but its brilliant story will definitely make you think, just not always on the battlefield.
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.
Although stripped down, the gameplay that is present is still generally competent and works with the given technology. However, the level design can only be referred to as disappointing, consisting of layouts that are generally dumbed-down when compared to its RTS companions. Passion was clearly put into this project, but the sum of its parts is better on paper than it was in execution.
There Came An Echo is more of a proof of concept than a real game. There's a basis for a strong game here, but it really needs to get fleshed out. It's a great proof of concept and an enjoyable experience, but it breaks just too often to be worth playing. Some of the title's weaknesses are the simple gameplay, awkward and fidgety mechanics, and voice orders being too inconsistent to feel natural. The short main story also means it's tough to recommend, despite being an interesting experience. If you're willing to work past some hurdles, there's a fair bit to like here, but it's probably best to wait for a sale.
Because it plays so differently, the game requires that you take a very different approach to playing it, and while I don't think this is an innovation that's going mainstream any time soon, having a voice controlled game on the PlayStation 4 makes for a unique, interesting, diversion. Throw in production values well beyond what most indies can achieve, and a plot that will get you thinking across its last few hours, and you've got a genuinely worthwhile little experiment here.
'There Came an Echo' is a must buy for everyone who loves Sci-Fi or strategy games. Iridium Studio's decision to place voice commands at the core of all aspects of the game provides a uniquely enjoyable experience that is complimented by a thought-provoking storyline and fantastic soundtrack. If there is going to be a 'There Came an Echo 2' sign me up and take my money now because I am already sold.
While 'There Came an Echo' has its problems, some of which seriously detract from its merits, I did enjoy my time with it. I can't recommend it wholeheartedly, as it is quite thin on content and most players will probably put it away after less than a half-dozen hours. It is more than a tech demo with pretty window dressing (although the tech is great). I sincerely hope it is successful and Iridium takes it to the next level, as there is a lot of fun to be had with its mechanics.
The voice recognition control scheme is extremely engrossing...but only when it works, with the alternative being an aggravating contextual menu-based system that requires the mouse. The action can be fun…but it mostly feels so hand-holding and tedious that it's like working instead of playing. The only thing of value here is, undoubtedly, the story…but the whole adventure ends so fast that it's impossible to feel any connection to this otherwise well-thought-out sci-fi universe.
The game creates a dynamicity of feelings within the player. From being calm and cool-headed to frantic and panicky. There's really no end to what you need to be in order to beat this game. Whether you're in the offense or in the defense side of it, the possibilities on how to approach There Came an Echo is endless.
It's more like a tech demo than a fully-fledged game (albeit one with a decent, fully realised story). It shows that voice controls can benefit an RTS title, and that games that strive for that 'narrative experience' can also have compelling gameplay; but it never reaches its full potential.
I would recommend getting There Came An Echo if you're looking for a different strategy game, with some light flaws. While it may not be as commending to other players unfamiliar with the genre, it's still a great title where it fits, and I'd like to see more potential from where it came from, in the form of a sequel, spin-off, or new IP.