You can wait a complete gaming generation for something unique and special to come along. For two such game to hit the market at the same time is extremely rare. Following last months Hellblade we get Echo, another independent development that dares (and succeeds) to do something different.
Ultra Ultra are a team of Danish developers based in Copenhagen. They are made of ex-employers of IO Interactive, the team responsible for the brilliant Hitman games. Echo owes a lot to the Hitman series but successfully takes the formula off in a much different direction.
You play En who must travel through a Palace Planet created by her grandfather. The Palace has a unique security system that you must battle (literally) through to reach your goal.
The Palace as an extremely advanced AI system that makes clones of you and sends those clones after you. Every so often the system resets. Between resets the clones learn how to behave based on your actions. As you play the clones will learn new abilities and forget old abilities based on your actions since the last rest.
The main gameplay is very much of the same stealth assassination of the Hitman series, with similar consequences when things go wrong, but you are forced in to being more creative and mixing things up a bit between resets. There’s a good deal of forward planning involved as you try to work out what you want the clones to learn, and what you want them to forget, ready for the next reset.
As ever the game is not perfect. As an AA indie game you’d expect one or two rough edges, but honestly it’s polished beyond the point of many AAA titles. No, the issues really come in lack of variety. One area of the Palace is very much the same as another and En’s range of movements are limited. The result is the game will fill a little repetitive before theend.