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Reviewed: Echo: Secrets of the Lost Cavern
Author: Michael Ahlf       Date: August 23rd, 2005
Page: 2
Most adventure games start off by stranding the player alone, and giving them a limited playground in which to explore the game's functions. Echo is no different; a young caveman named Arok is stranded in a cave, holed up with a mountain lion waiting outside hoping to make him a meal..

Despite the possible rocky start, the game's surprisingly nonviolent, and the documentary aspects make it suitable for young children, which is a plus, as long as they are able to figure out some of the tougher puzzles. A host of well-rendered cinematics and prerendered environments make it run on older computers as well, requiring a bare minimum system of only 800 MHz, 64 MB of RAM, a 64 MB graphics card (its only "luxury" requirement), and DirectX 9 to play.

The cinematics are always good. A hungry lioness is your first challenge Like any good adventure game, your surroundings are full of possible tools.

Echo is a caveman game set in prehistoric times, revolving around a young man who is traveling to find a mentor in hopes of becoming a cave painter. Thus, most of the game's puzzles have to do with art; a stone with colored squares reveals the route through a dark cave pre-marked with colored signs, a painting of hands reveals the path to climb a steep wall, a painting of a cave bear reveals how to bypass it. Not everything is about pure painting, however, as simpler tasks like cooking a meal and telling a tale to a new acquaintance make appearances. The basics of cave painting come back, even revealing how some of the colors were constructed. The ending is a surprise, but well foreshadowed and the only disappointment is that the story doesn't reveal what happens after Arok completes his mission.

Meeting with other natives is important. Sometimes, the best way to get what you need is to barter - say, by cooking a good meal for a new friend. When you're done, there's a documentary section to explore. Excellent for young kids playing the game as well.

Control-wise, Echo isn't as complex as Return to Mysterious Island, but it doesn't have to be, because the tools required in the game are much simpler. This does result in some flaws since the game requires players to run around picking up every possible item, but the puzzles themselves do well regardless. The designers also built in a few moments when player inventory is cleared out, saving space for the next task. It's a disappointment on certain levels, since it's possible to get attached to something as simple as a knife in the storyline, but when an object is gone players can be pretty certain it won't be needed again.

Overall, Echo is an enjoyable tale with a decent ending, if a little on the short side. Still, for the budget price adventure titles usually go for, it's well worth dipping into the wallet and enjoying the story.

Added:  Tuesday, August 23, 2005
Reviewer:  Michael Ahlf
Page: 2/3

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