Lone Echo explores the uncanny valley and gives us our first true glimpse of an interactive movie
First off, I just want to be clear and say that these are my first impressions after playing maybe 1/3rd of the way through the space odyssey known as Lone Echo. My opinions could change as I complete the experience and possibly revisit it over the coming months. Still, I have to say that what I've experienced up to this point has been powerful and engrossing. Ready At Dawn was extremely ambitious in what they wanted to do with their first big VR game. What they've ultimately created is less a game, and more an interactive cinematic experience. It's interesting that Ready At Dawn took this approach, because the title won't appeal to everybody.
There is a certain segment of gamer that could find Lone Echo to be too slow, and not as action packed as they would prefer. I've yet to fire a gun of any kind, or feel like I was in any super intense situation that demanded twitch skills. I'm not battling any zombies or aliens (at least not yet). Lone Echo seems like a slower and more deliberate game. It's more about the subtleties of the experience. The little things all adding up, making it into a grand experience that explores the frontier of interactive cinema. As you move your way through the game, there isn't anything that really breaks the experience. There's nothing to let you know that you're playing a video game, instead of having an amazing real life experience. The only thing holding us back at this point, is the fact that we are standing on solid ground, and we know we aren't floating around in complete weightlessness. If only you could play this game in some type of weightless suspension harness.
Captain Olivia Rhodes is the brilliant scientist and astronaut who is paired up with your character, the android Echo-1. Olivia at times will almost appear like a real human person interacting with you. She will be within inches of you, and your brain will really feel like there is another human just inches away. Her face isn't quite perfect, and that's where the uncanny valley comes into play. Honestly, I think the more we venture into these waters the better. Eventually we'll cross over to the other side. Sure, it's a bit weird and freaky right now, but we are on the cusp of something spectacular.
The star of the show in this game is Olivia as well as the spacestation itself. Again, this game doesn't have high octane action sequences. It's a slower game, a more nuanced affair. You're doing the kinds of things that an A.I. like yourself would actually be assigned to do, during an emergency situation like this. You're traveling around a very realistically depicted spacestation. Your movement is effortless. It's amazing how nausea is a complete non issue. Something about grabbing onto things and pulling ourselves in a zero G environment just works. There are railings everywhere to grab onto. Lots of scientific equipment and instrumentation. Everything in this world makes sense it it's context.
I have had some minor performances issues when playing Lone Echo. In the beginning, everything worked pretty much flawlessly, but when I first got outside into open space, I had extreme stuttering and had to shut the game down. I've since lowered the graphic settings, and everything seems to be working well now. Of course, your mileage may vary depending on what kind of PC gaming rig you have. As I continue to work my way through this epic space adventure, I'll try to post updates on my feelings about it , on my way towards reviewing the game.