Echo Generations – Wholesome and Confusing
Xbox One/Series, PC
Waking up late after working on your alien skin eaters script you check your email before popping on your favourite synth music. It is time to be a teenage kleptomaniac, find random items for people in your town and try to solve their problems for nick-nacks. Beat up talking racoon ruffians and other various animals. All of this is just the beginning of the bizarre events to unfold in Echo Generations.
We’re gonna take you back to the past in Echo Generations at last. An action-adventure with a turn-based combat system where micro games help power your attacks. Your Dad is missing for unknown reasons and you’re going to start filming your amateur alien flesh eaters movie with your friends when strange things begin occurring all over town. Joined by your silly younger sister who looks way too much like Chucky(TM).
Lowpoly models mixed with voxel characters and decorations are the core aesthetic choice in Echo Generation. This art direction coupled with the lighting engine gives every area a unique look and feel for the player. You won’t be mistaking two places for being the same in Echo Generation.
Combat is simple and the microgames are a welcomed addition to the turn-based combat formula. The minigames the skills have are all unique which is something to commend the devs for accomplishing. Learning all of the different minigames was fun and added suspense and player skill to an otherwise stats-based combat system. An option in the settings to allow players with accessibility problems to bypass the minigames would be a welcomed addition.
Multiple moments are lengthened by having to run around the town to complete the often confusing quests. Limite resting locations to heal your party free of cost and a lack of a real penalty for dying makes this system feel overly tedious. A fast travel system of some kind felt sorely needed to reduce the padding of running around town doing all the odd jobs. Have fun holding down the sprint button for most of the game after the first hour or two once you get sick of running back to heal.
Boss encounters are unique and feature models and animations just for that encounter. No boss fight is exactly the same and you will likely die a few times trying to fight them before succeeding. The penalty for losing in a fight is being reset to the area entrance and having half your life removed. This is where the tedious process of running to your house and healing begins. Losing is just a time loss and it does not feel good in this. Given this, however, players of any style should have no problems eventually overcoming all the challenges in the game when you can get grandmas 999 HP max SP healing cookies.
Scripted encounters are paired with areas that have random enemy fights. These areas are harder to spot and are not easily encountered as the rate is so low. Farming for levels seems to be discouraged due to this. When first encountered it was strange to find them in the game given how many early game scripted enemy placements were present.
The music tracks in Echo Generation are excellent. The main menu music is just the beginning taste of the banger synth-wave vibes that will be coming your way. There are cassettes to find which have individuals songs and play in boomboxes so you can relive the pain associated with that era of media. No rewinding is necessary which is a bit unfortunate.
There is a companion system too, you slowly unlock companions while playing through the game which acts as your third and swappable party member. They cannot use items but they often have supplementary healing skills or buffs which can help your main two party members. Once you begin to unlock the later companions they start at level 1 which meant that the beginning companion was vastly superior to any unlocked in the late game. Sadly this meant sticking with the first companion made the game much easier to progress without grinding other companions for levels.
The final playtime for my run was just under 14 hours. My characters were barely levelled into their teens too. At least 1-2 hours of my game time was running around stuck and confused at what to do next. Anyone who is stuck should look up a guide or talk to everything and everyone with all dialogue options while combing areas for secret items.
Echo Generation delivers a wholesome and quirky world with a wonderful cast of varying characters, interesting boss fight encounters and amazing visuals. It is, however, let down by a lengthy and confusing quest system with running around being confused trying to interact with everything and everyone when things start to get less logical. Nostalgic gaming fans will find some enjoyment from this resurrection of turn-based RPGs in the era of rendered backgrounds and still camera angles.