Impressions: Lone Echo – A Spectacular Sci-Fi Journey

Ready at Dawn tries their hand at VR with Lone Echo for the Oculus Rift.

I’m fairly new to VR but out of the few video game titles I’ve enjoyed, Lone Echo stands firmly on top of that list. The video game offers the incredible feeling of immersion into a brand new world while also offering a narrative journey you can’t help but press on a bit longer in your gameplay session.

Lone Echo comes from a rather well-known development studio, Ready at Dawn. The studio is responsible for a number of video game titles such as the God of War PlayStation Portable titles, Deformers, and The Order: 1886. While the studio has worked on a range of consoles both portable and home-based, Lone Echo marks as the first title the studio developed for virtual reality.

Unfortunately, the video game is only available on the Oculus Rift which means HTC Vive and PSVR users will be missing out on this title, at least for the time being right now.

We won’t spoil the story narrative for you, but what we will say is that the game takes place in the year 2126 where players take on the role of a service android that goes by the nickname, Jack. Overall, the setting within the game is in space on a mining station orbiting Saturn. Jack thankfully isn’t alone in the emptiness of space, prominently, Jack will be accompanying the captain and only human member aboard the mining station, Olivia Rhodes.

Early on within the narrative, we learn that Olivia Rhodes will be transferring and much to her disappointment, Jack would be left behind to run the mining station. With only a week left of Captain Olivia Rhodes duties on the station, everything quickly is put on hold after a strange anomaly shows up, disrupting the station from its daily activities.

That’s all I’ll say about the narrative itself, but the mystery that surrounds the anomaly definitely kept me wanting more and as a result I did play a bit longer in any given session. Don’t take that as some accomplishment, if you were to strictly play the narrative goals and avoid side quests and exploration, the video game could be completed in just a few short hours with an abrupt ending in which will certainly leave you wanting more.

Being that Lone Echo is set in space, maneuvering around the game is all done in a feeling of zero gravity and while I personally don’t get motion sickness, I can see how someone would rather take a seat during the game or enjoy the title in shorter spurts. Speaking of taking a seat, the game works perfectly fine if you need to sit down to continue.

Moving around in the game is done in a few ways thanks to the Touch controls. Outside of grabbing onto objects or walls to pull yourself in a given direction or launching off an object, players will also have thrusters to give a nice boost in any direction your hands are facing. Essentially, think of yourself as Marvel’s Iron Man in which wherever your hands go will determine where the thrusters will take you.

Going alongside the movement, immersion on a visually aspect for Lone Echo is spot on. There were moments that felt like I was sitting back watching a cinematic sci-fi movie unfold or points within the game that I opted to explore in pure curiosity to see just what I would find. The voice acting is mainly between two characters, Jack and Olivia, but since Jack is a service android, the tone of its voice feels robotic which was a bit of a surprise as Troy Baker voice acted the character. If you’re unfamiliar with Troy Baker, this is the same voice actor who portrayed such characters as Booker DeWitt in Bioshock, and Joel from The Last of Us, two very masculine sounding characters. Olivia Rhodes, however, added a nice contrast with a more human and lively voice thanks to actress Alice Coulthard, who you may be familiar with for her portrayal of Isabeau D’Argyll and Lady Igraine in The Order: 1886.

While on the topic of voice acting, players are able to give Jack a bit of a personality, even if it doesn’t offer much of a difference in the narrative. During your conversations, players are able to open up a dialogue menu to select a response although staying quiet is also a viable option.

Gameplay is more catered to puzzle solving, so if you’re coming from something like From Other Suns and expecting to fight off some aliens or robotic pirates then you’re going to be disappointed. For the most part, Jack is set to venture off into different areas of space where you’ll need to solve a puzzle or collect items scattered about. A large part of these puzzles will also require some snappy movements so it’s best that you’re comfortable with maneuvering around in the game relatively early.

Outside of the main game, there is a spin-off multiplayer sports game known as Echo Arena that players can enjoy completely for free. This is something worth also checking out to get a bit of maneuvering practice down before you jump into the main game.

All-in-all, I had a spectacular time with Lone Echo despite being rather short and its abrupt ending. Lone Echo is still well worth picking up on my humble opinion and I’m excited to see just what Ready at Dawn does next within the VR platform.

Full Disclosure: A copy of the game was provided for purposes of this review.