Echo Generation is a turn-based RPG adventure game developed and published by indie studio Cococucumber. It was released for PC and Xbox in October of 2021.
It’s summer break, and you and your friends are trying to get together to film your ultimate creation. A movie about a skin eating alien who has come to Earth somehow and is eating people. Except nothing seems to line up and you can never seem to be able to film this movie. But as you try to get the opportunity, instead you stumble upon a murder, and a downed spaceship with the body of…your father?
The story kind of spirals from here. The main objective always seemed to be “figure out how to film with your friends”, but instead you’re dragged into a side story that honestly is poorly explained and by the time you get an explanation, it turns out you’re also trying to look for your dad, who split from your mother years ago. You don’t know why they split up, hell at first I thought he died. But nope, he just left. Eventually you find out why, but by that point I felt a bit uncaring.
You get wrapped up in so many storylines at once while you work your way through this adventure, most of which I just so happened to stumble across, thinking they were side stories, but in reality, they were needed for the main plot, but I didn’t know, because it doesn’t tell you ANYWHERE! So one second I’m helping a man set up a radio in the forest to call aliens, and then I’m rescuing a trapped child from the school principal’s basement. Why? Who knows! I certainly didn’t, because there was no context to almost anything in the game! No journal with a summary, no giant cutscene, nothing!
The rest of the game balances on two genres, one way more than the other. The first is turn based combat. Think Paper Mario. When you enter combat, usually your main character goes first, then the enemies. As you choose your attack, you either just hit a button as a prompt appears, to do extra damage, or you play a minigame if you choose a skill. Whether it’s pressing buttons in a certain order, or mashing one button, or lining up crosshairs, these minigames felt exciting. Then when the enemies attack, you have to hit a button to minimize damage to your team. Except I really didn’t like this system. Not only did you barely have a chance to react, so you REALLY had to learn the patterns of enemies, sometimes you literally NEVER get a chance to block because the prompt is gone in less than a second.
As you finish fights, you get experience points. When you level up, you get to choose from one of three aspects to level up. Health, strength, or skill points, so you can use more skills in battle obviously. Unfortunately none of these level up in the background, so it was hard to tell that I was getting stronger, and unless I increased my strength, the level ups just felt useless. You earn skills by finding magazines hidden throughout the world. Whether it’s behind a puzzle or a boss, there were tons to collect for every teammate. Except I never used a good 60% of them. Why not? Well I never switched teammates. The second I got my first one I stuck with it forever, because when I got new ones, they all started at level one, and the EXP gain is so slow and horrendous, I did not want to try and grind to level them up just for them to turn out useless. Plus they don’t get EXP if they’re not in combat. Why make it like this!? Maybe I wanted to use the big fluffy pupper!
The other side of the game plays like a point and click game. You have to explore the world very carefully and look for items that you can use in either the same area or a different area. This meant a whole lot of back tracking, and with no way to fast travel, and no map, you had to run everywhere and remember where each area was. This was not fun. As I said earlier, the game has no journal system in it to keep track of all the shit you have to do. Sure it was fun to figure stuff out as nothing was too complicated, but if you can’t play for many days, how are you supposed to remember it all? There’s no way.
The aesthetic of the game was surprisingly more spooky than I expected it to be. I was expecting a fun, bright little adventure. But what I was met with was eery music, death, and the monster from The Grudge, and it all felt really awesome, especially against the backdrop of the quaint bright little town. Part of me wishes the developers would make a full blown horror game because I feel like they’d hit it out of the park if they tried.
- Awesome Aesthetic
- Fun Mini Games
- Puzzles Aren’t Too Complicated
- A Lackluster Story
- No Journal Or Map
- Teammates Don’t Level Outside Of Combat
I’m very middle of the road with this game. For everything the devs did right, there’s an ugly side of something they did wrong. The biggest issue is no journal to compile all your quests or give you a brief rundown of what happened or what is happening. But as I said, now I want a horror game by them. So just be wary if you step foot inside Maple Town, and maybe keep some paper and a pen next to you.