EchoBlade Review

EchoBlade is an indie game like no other, but that doesn’t make it any more interesting than most. We play as an unnamed knight wearing the world’s worst helmet, one that renders the wearer completely blind while attempting to escape a dungeon in the pitch black with only echolocation as our source of movement.

You’re lucky you’re not glowing red, pal…

 

Where Are My Eye Holes?

Players will notice first of all that once we enter the world of EchoBlade, there is nothing but the sounds surrounding us to help the character traverse the depths of the dungeon. Each footstep, sword swing and the voice of our enemies illuminates the path forward. Simply standing still in a quiet room will completely darken the screen, blinding the player and encouraging them to keep moving in order to progress further in the game. The world is made up of several separate rooms, many of these rooms containing giant keys that the player must collect in order to progress. EchoBlade has the habit of resetting levels you backtrack to, meaning any puzzles, enemies and secrets you had previously discovered are back in their original placements. As such, it can be frustrating to revisit previous levels knowing all your progress was essentially reset.

A sinister contraption lies ahead…

 

Watch Your Step

EchoBlade is a dangerous world full of enemies and traps, so naturally, the character is provided with weapons such as a sword and a crossbow, the latter having pretty god-awful aiming mechanics. How on Earth our character can aim whilst being blind is anybody’s guess, so it could be argued that this mechanic is pretty much built-in with the game. Enemies are consistently noisy and make every effort to let you know that they’re there, either by announcing their presence or making no effort to keep quiet and catch the player off guard. Most encounters are pretty easy to handle as sometimes enemies will take ages just to attack once. Fighting in a room with traps adds extra tension to battles, but I never encountered rooms with more than two enemies at a time, meaning I could make quick work of each foe whilst avoiding the traps. Combat is fairly basic, using one button to attack, one to block and one to dodge. I barely found myself blocking as enemies would clearly telegraph their attacks slowly enough to be dodged or simply backstepped.

Swing until the red blob is dead…

 

I’m Batman (-ish)

Obviously, this is a video game, and running around in the dark might not seem appealing to most. That’s why EchoBlade’s echolocation mechanics use different colours and hues to symbolise different features of the game. By default, enemies are tinted in orange-red, traps are dark-ish red and general noise is portrayed as cyan. However, players can choose what colours all noises belong to by switching through different choices in the menu. If you think the presence of traps represents great sadness, let the colour of their glow be blue instead of red. Do you believe that making sound indicates danger more often than not? Change the hue for general noises to a red colour to encourage a more quiet journey.

A very basic skill tree…

 

A Little Bit of Help

The developers of EchoBlade decided to add some very simply RPG elements to the game by allowing players to level up through a skill point system. Most of these abilities just expand on what you already have, and there are very few new skills to unlock. For example, the skill tree offers increases in health, stamina and additional arrows for the crossbow. Frankly, enemies pose very little threat to the player, and even with base health, these foes offer just a small danger to the player’s progress. Traps can only really be seen when they activate, so every step you take has to be carefully calculated. I found myself becoming more weary of traps than actual guards with actual swords, the latter being extremely easy to dodge around and the former nearly taking my head off at every turn.

 

Final Thoughts

In a nutshell, EchoBlade leaves less than what I desired from a unique experience. Granted, there’s only so much you can do in gameplay with a blind protagonist, but what was written on paper might not deliver in execution. EchoBlade is an average but interesting new take on indie games that is probably not for everyone.

Developer: Sunset Arctic Games

Publisher: Sunset Arctic Games, East Asiasoft Limited

Platforms: Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PS5, PS4, Nintendo Switch, Windows PC

Release Date: 5th July 2023

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