Taking half a step away from the indie game go-to of pixel art, Echo Generation builds its turn-based RPG out of voxels instead. With massive shades of Stranger Things, the game is set in the small town of Mudsville during the 90’s, with Dylan and friends embark on a journey to investigate a mysterious crash in the nearby fields and save their town from some really bizarre monsters.
The dialogue is very well written, witty and fun. I found myself laughing a lot as characters bounced off each other, and even more so when you talk to animals. Yes, for some reason you can have full blown conversations with animals. I didn’t question it, I was too busy laughing at the bizarre dialogue. There’s a dog you meet who tells you he doesn’t like to be fussed by strangers, but bring him a bone and he might just let you pet him. Off I go to find a bone, then!
Every character is also interesting to talk to. It’s something that often bugs me with RPG’s, when you interact with an NPC and they say something generic and boring. Echo Generation at least makes this element somewhat entertaining. Even enemies can be hilarious with a group of angry raccoons rallying to beat you down… but only when you have a larger party. The game is very self aware and I love it.
You come across a quite frankly dodgy geezer who literally has a child under his arm as he walks into his house and locks the door. There are missing child posters everywhere and so much evidence to indicate he is up to no good. The local cops are having none of it, however, backing up his claim to being an upstanding citizen. It might star children, but I never said this was a kids game – there’s clearly a lot of darker tones here.
With the game due out later this year, I was playing a rather short but sweet demo that demonstrates the gameplay. Early on it becomes clear that this will often involve fetch quests and paying attention to things you have picked up, making sure you are giving them to the right people. It’s a fairly simple affair that’s thankfully bolstered by the charisma oozing from the world you travel in. And it’s a pretty world, to boot. I’m not generally sold on pixel art games (even if they’re voxels instead of pixels), but I couldn’t help but be enthralled by the aesthetic. There’s a gentle haze on areas of the screen that aren’t the focal point, which is just really nice and easy on the eyes.
The combat itself is pretty easy to get to grips with. You have a standard punch attack which deals bonus damage with a well timed button press, similar to Mario RPGs, and the same is true on defence, reducing the damage you take. Other abilities are unlocked as you find comic books to draw inspiration from, giving Dylan the ability to use a hockey stick to pummel his enemies. These moves tend to cost SP and have an additional functionality to increase damage. For instance, the hockey strike requires you to input a sequence of buttons in quick succession in order to do max damage.
You can unlock other characters to play with and in the demo, you get access to Little Sister who as you can probably infer is the protagonist’s sibling. She only comes with you because Mom wants you to get her out the house. It’s not long before she’s battering rats by trying to stomp on their heads. Oh and for some reason she carries boxing gloves?
In true RPG fashion, battling levels up your characters, enabling you to increase their health, damage output or giving them more SP to work with. Later, you meet another potential party member, Dylan’s cat. Unfortunately, the demo ends before you can take control. Sad times.
From an RPG perspective, Echo Generation isn’t doing anything particularly groundbreaking, but it makes up for it with its colourful world and lore building. There’s potential for a lot more to be thrown in the mix between now and the game’s release. The game is utterly bonkers so far and I cannot wait to see what it brings to the table when it releases in full later this year, when it will arrive for Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One and PC.