Imagine being trapped in a dark place that’s so dark you can’t even see your hands in front of your face. You’ll need an alternate way to navigate, and in the new game Dark Echo, you envision sound waves to see a path forward. You probably take sound waves for granted, since you don’t hear the sensation of propagating waves surrounding you. In Dark Echo, all you have are sound waves that collide off walls to paint a picture of the path forward. Each step you take radiates sound to slowly uncover the path, while leaving most of the world shrouded in darkness.
There are 80 levels included that continue to increase new challenges as paths shift, unlockable gateways are introduced, and glowing red enemies start to appear. At first, you make a bunch of noise plodding along, but soon you need to sneak around. The game lets you drag your finger to work at a normal pace, or you can tap repeatedly to bring a hush to your footsteps. You can also tap and hold to emit one loud sound to get a better view of the level, but you need to be careful. The more noise you make, the more you can see, but also the more enemies can find you. Dark Echo is all about trying to find your way by making as little noise as possible with brand new challenges continuously introduced.
Dark Echo is a bit reminiscent of Mayday in offering an innovative game mechanic, but rather than using your voice, you need to use your ears. The game is obviously designed for headphones, and it’s quite an experience to be so in tune with every footstep your character takes. There’s a minimalistic design that usually just provides white lines ricocheting off walls to depict noises, and you will also see red lines for enemies, blue lines for water, and yellow lines for gates. The game is designed for sound rather than visuals, and it’s a brand new way to explore, and interact with a game. Everything is just so well designed to immerse you in the darkness of the world, and simply rely on echoing sounds to survive.
The level variety also keeps you engaged as some levels require a stealth approach, others are about a mad dash to the finish, and still others focus on thinking your way forward. You can also blend strategies on different levels, and your only goal is to reach the exit. The best part is that you don’t know where the exit is until you’re upon it, so you need to just keep exploring. The journey is definitely the enjoyable part, especially when there’s a cave in, or forking pathway, which makes you change up your path completely. When you’re sneaking, you only get a slight view of the path, which makes handling the shifting path that much tougher. A great example of the game is the ability to trick enemies into following a sound so you can sneak away from them to then give you extra time to travel through noisy water at slow speeds.
Dark Echo ($1.99, Universal) is an all new type of gaming adventure that is a must have that hits all the right notes.