Friday, January 8, 2010 1:57 PM cstanton

Echochrome: M.C. Escheresque Puzzle Game

 

 Echochrome is a game available for the PS3 and the PSP on the PlayStation Network in which you solve puzzles by walking a mannequin around different level where perception is key.

Not only do the levels look like the kind of warped walkways in Escher's paintings, but the way that the mannequin, called a Walker, moves is dependent upon the perception of your camera, which you rotate around with the analog stick, to get him over gaps, holes, and to make him fall or jump onto other walkways so that he can walk through 4 checkpoints, or echoes, complete the level. The game has five simple rules or laws, each of which you are given examples of :

Rule 1: Don't talk about Echochrome.

No, only kidding. But here are the laws: 

1. The Law of Perspective Travelling - When two separate pathways appear to be touching, they are.

2. The Law of Perspective Landing - If one pathway appears to be above another, it is.

3. The Law of Perspective Existence - When the gap between two pathways is blocked from view and the pathways appear to be connected, they are.

4. The Law of Perspective Absence - When a hole is blocked from view, it does not exist.

5. The Law of Perspective Jumping - When the Walker jumps, he will land on whatever appears to be beneath him. This law has some bullshit tendencies, but for the most part it is true.

The time for completion of each of the 56 levels is limited to 3 minutes, so not only do you have to figure out how to complete the path to get the mannequin to each of the echoes, but you must do it quickly and precisely. By pressing the square button the camera will line up adjacent paths if you are close enough so that pixel perfect accuracy is not required. This is a useful trick to know about because otherwise if even a pixel of a gap or hole is showing the mannequins route will be affected. That, and the rotation of the camera goes just a little too slow at times. Some of the first levels however are a little boring if you quickly grasp the concept and you can speed up the mannequin by pressing and holding X.

 

Echochrome is definitely a workout for the brain and the perceptual concepts can be tricky for some to grasp at first. The simplicity of Echochrome's black and white pencil line graphics brings 2D drawings and 3D worlds together and quite well confuses the heck out of the brain. All to a score of classical string music. 

Echochrome's simplicity and unique concept that not only provides fun, frustrating, somewhat addictive, but still potentially quick session gameplay makes it well worth the $9.99 price tag.

It is also possible to edit your own levels and upload them to the PlayStation Network. The user levels give Echochrome even more replay ability than the 56 challenging puzzles.

The game kind of reminds me of Portal but on a much simpler platform. The simpler platform doesn't make for a simpler game though and will probably leave you with a few headaches to work through for that "eureka!" gratification. 

 

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