In the not too distant future there exists a man named Greg, whom is currently trying – with all of his might – to successfully complete his project to build a working 3D printer/scanner. One day – while working on his invention – he is hurriedly summoned to the park by his girlfriend, Chloe Rieko, claiming that she has something of vital importance to discuss with him. They meet at the park and – after ordering some ice cream from the weirdest vendor ever – are almost ready to discuss Chloe’s urgent matters, but then an inexplicable disaster suddenly strikes.
A column of light bursts forth from the sky, enveloping Chloe Rieko within it, and unleashes a shockwave that sends both Greg – and all of the tables sitting around the park – flying backwards. A while later Greg wakes up in the hospital to find that he is – other than a positively smashing headache – otherwise mostly fine, but there is one particularly odd thing that is now going on. No one in the world – including his best friend – seems to remember Chloe having ever been at the park when the accident occurred, or that the two of them had ever been in a relationship to start with.
Poor Greg was just about to accept his friend’s insistence that there never truly was a Chloe Rieko in the first place when he suddenly sees her, alongside the CEO of research company Re-Tech, on the news one night. Reinvigorated by the truth that he isn’t going out of his mind, Greg launches on a crusade to find a way to break-in to Re-Tech and rescue the girlfriend that only he seems to remember. Along the way he’s going to find himself quite in over his head, as Greg discovers that sometimes the truth of reality can be far more complicated to wrap your head around than he at first thought.
So goes the set-up to Lost Echo (out now, $2.99), the Graphic Adventure title – with positively mind blowing 3D Visuals – recently released by the talented team of developers over at Kickback Studios. Graphic Adventure titles truly are the ideal genre for the predominantly touch screen driven mobile gaming scene, since their point-and-click mouse driven roots adapt well to the format. Furthermore – as an extra nice feature – touching the screen simultaneously with two fingers will reveal where all of the interactable objects are, removing the detestable random clicking that plagues something Graphic Adventure games.
Lost Echo also comes with two whole difficulty settings – a feature I’ve only ever before seen in the legendary Curse of Monkey Island – enabling those seeking puzzles to find a challenge, and everyone else to just focus on the story. That said – to the delight of people who do love challenges, but loathe being forced to constantly use walkthroughs – the puzzles here are thankfully devoid of the “Moon Logic” dilemma that has plagued quite a few Graphic Adventures titles in the past. Even so, Lost Echo – despite not turning into a full blown “Guide Dang-It” – is still chock full of the classical “thinking-outside-the-box” style logic that the genre is famously known for.
Anyways – adventure game puzzle commentary aside – Lost Echo is positively filled to the brim with what is quite possibly some of the most breathtaking real-time 3D vistas you’ll ever see on a mobile device, especially since the game is purported to run on even the iPhone 3GS. Every location is immaculately detailed to the point where you’ll think it absolutely must be nothing more than just a static backdrop, a la the way games such as Resident Evil used to handle these things. The second your characters walks somewhere – causing the camera to pan along with him – your drop will hit the floor, and possibly go crashing through it to the room below. The character models for the people can sometimes be far less amazing, or at least when compared to the otherwise sublime work that went into the backgrounds, but they at least manage to not detract from the experience.
In order to ensure that Lost Echo, ran impeccably even on low end devices, Kickback Studios did have to rig it so that almost every location Greg travels to will never have more than three-to-four people in it at the same time. While this can sometimes make a few of the amazing places he visits feel eerily empty, that’s a far better fate to face than having a game that crashing constantly at the most frustrating moments. At least it seems that the developers were tongue-in-cheek aware of these limitations, and the plot always manages to give plausible reasons for why Greg never seems to end up in a highly populated area.
Unlike some other highly plot centric games we have covered, such as the Sage Fusion series, Lost Echo still manages to fit nicely into the bite-sized chunk mentality that normally drives the iOS gaming market. That’s not to say the game is short, it’s actually a fully-fledged graphic adventure that has your slowly working your way forward – one intriguing twist at a time – as you try to help Greg uncover the truth and save Chloe. It’s just that – except for a massive conversation that takes place near the end – the game has very frequent checkpoints that the player can easily take advantage of, all handled via auto-saving (which even lets you restore to save points older than the most recent one).
My chief current complaint would be that the game’s ending, while managing to warp up the impetus that began the adventure, ends on a rather large cliffhanger that will leave you frothing to know more. In the highly volatile field of mobile game development, populated almost entirely by indie design teams, it can often be a valid concern that endings such as this will never receive actual resolution. However, finishing the game produces a message that promises an extra chapter will be released in the near future – making Lost Echo an even longer experience – entirely for free.
Those who want to experience a competently made graphic adventure title – with the most amazing 3D visuals on a mobile device ever, even if you’re still using an ancient iPod Touch 4 – will find much to enjoy within Lost Echo’s mind-bending mystery.
iFanzine Verdict: Lost Echo is a lengthy original graphic adventure for mobile platforms, with mind-blowing 3D scenery that somehow manages to flawlessly run on surprisingly low end devices. In it players follow Greg as he explores the mystery surrounding the disappearance of his girlfriend after an enigmatic flash of light, dealing with twists and turns as he tries to uncover why no one remembers her anymore. The game features simple touch based controls, that are absolutely ideal for mobile platforms, without sacrificing any of the “thinking-outside-the-box” style logic puzzles than genre fans adore.