By Michael Sagoe (mikedot)
Robot Entertainment has been known for bringing bright and color action and strategy game to both the iOS and PC platform. Echo Prime was one of their most recent iOS titles featuring sci-fi action, intuitive touch controls, customizable equipment/abilities and huge boss battles all wrapped up in a cybernetic package. Now the development team has ported Echo Prime right onto the PC platform with improved visuals, new content and more. But how much of a jump does this bite sized iOS game make to the PC?
Right off the bat, the first thing that needs to be said about the game is the control scheme, as Echo Prime primarily uses the mouse for many different actions. Players can move their soldier around the field by point & click, as well as attack enemies by clicking on them with LMB. Depending on your character’s distance from each enemy, attacking from long or medium range will perform ranged attacks while attacking in close range will allow you to attack with your sword. Players can also guard attacks using RMB, and when pressed at the right time, players can deflect projectiles and perfect block against melee attacks.
While the control scheme sounds like it should work well enough, it’s far too sensitive in the most crucial of moments. Biggest example: Players can double tap in any direction in order to dodge attacks at any time, as well as pull their mouse towards an enemy before clicking on them to perform a lunging sword attack. When the enemies start to surround the player, it’s far too easy to end up dodging or attacking other enemies at the worst possible moment, which will cause to you take hits for all the wrong reasons.
The 1-6 keys can also be used to activate various abilities, some of which have extra commands tied to them, such as having to draw a line on the screen to create a trail of fire on the ground, or clicking a spot on the ground to drop an explosive barrel. These abilities can also be activated by clicking them in the corner of the screen, so it’s quite possible to play the entire game only using the mouse. However, due to the fast paced nature of the gameplay, playing only using the mouse is not recommended.
As the game progresses, it becomes more increasingly clear how much of a direct port this game is from its iOS counterpart. Strangely enough, players can also use the WASD keys in order to perform dodges in every direction, which begs to question why they simply could not dedicate the movement and dodging actions to the WASD keys altogether.
While it may seem like a dungeon crawler, similar to the likes of Diablo or Torchlight, the gameplay is a lot more comparable to that of a classic beat ‘em up. The basic premise for a mission is to travel to the end of the map, defeating any enemies that appear on screen, pick up a power-up or two, fight more enemies on screen and finally defeat a sub-boss to complete a single room. Rinse and repeat about two to four more times in order to complete a single level. There’s no exploration, no alternative paths or anything special when playing a mission.
It’s straight forward and the weariness of repetition will set in quickly. Echo Prime attempts to break up the repetition by including other mission types such as surviving waves of enemies within a time limit, defending an objective within a time limit, weakening enemies in order to capture them, or defeating a massive boss enemy. The basic premise of defeating everything (or almost everything) on screen is still the same, and these slight deviations do very little to make these missions any more enjoyable in the long run.
The repetitiveness of missions is far too great to play Echo Prime in long sessions, which isn’t too surprising since this was originally an iOS game, on a platform mainly tailored for casual gaming. It may be enjoyable to play in small doses, but Echo Prime will make most seasoned PC players wish they were playing a more legit dungeon crawler or beat ‘em up. It also doesn’t help that the major challenge of Echo Prime’s gameplay is just a challenge of patience, as players will have to learn to not be greedy with their attacks against mobs of enemies while dealing with the touchy controls, as well as grind through many optional missions in order to earn strong enough equipment to progress in later missions.
Another boasted feature for Echo Prime is the “Echoes” system, where players can earn active and passive abilities from different alien life-forms from all over the galaxy. Up to five abilities can be used in a mission, which includes a random ability selected by a random online player, and they range from extra damage, snares, knockbacks, buffs and more. Players can also share these echoes with friends, which gives the game somewhat of a card collection element, but chances are that most players will find a particular set of echoes that they’re most comfortable with early on and stick with them throughout the rest of their playing experience.
Visuals and Presentation
The visual design for Echo Prime comes off as a generic take on sci-fi, with familiar concepts such as laser swords, plasma guns, chrome studded armor and zerg / protoss-like aliens. Since this is a direct port of an iOS game, the graphical detail for Echo Prime is certainly not pushing any boundaries, as character models have fairly low polygon counts and moderately detailed environments. The musical score is also fairly generic with mystifying sounds of deep space and plain techno / electronica music that's anything but memorable. Overall, the entire presentation for Echo Prime just comes off as weak and uninspired.
Echo Prime for the PC stands as a fairly mediocre title that may be enjoyable to play in small doses, but does not have much lasting appeal compared to other similar titles. For me, it serves as a small example that some gaming experiences are simply more acceptable on certain gaming platforms and may not translate well on others.