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Adventure Game Scene of the Day — Monday 17 February 2014
Echo Night: Beyond (2004) for the PS2 is the third game in the Echo Night series that got its start on the original Playstation back in 1998. The games in this series, depending on your perspective, are either Survival Horror games with very little action, or adventure games with a bit of it. They occupy that strange place between the two genres that can be unappealing to fans of either. The closest comparison would probably be the original Clock Tower game for the SNES.
These games, at their core, are about bringing peace to the undead spirits of various haunted locales. This is typically done by conversing with them to hear their back stories and using that information to find appropriate items to give them or by figuring out other things to do to help them move onward from their purgatory. Some of the ghosts are too angry to approach and need to be avoided until you figure out a solution for them though and that is where the pseudo-action/stealth sequences come in.
I would point out that these angry ghosts are slow and territorial and won’t chase you very far from the areas they guard. You literally just turn around and run in a straight line should you be foolish enough to get too close. You don’t have any health in the normal sense, but the meter on screen shows your heart rate which increases as your fear does until your heart fails and you die. Your heart rate returns to normal when in safe areas though so there is never any permanent “damage”. In addition, you will sometimes have to analyze the ghosts’ movement patterns to sneak by them. That’s pretty much it. There’s no combat of any kind. Also, you can save pretty much anywhere and at any time.
The story is set on the Moon, where you’ve gone with your fiancée to be married, but in typical fashion, an accident occurs and you find yourself alone on a seemingly abandoned but quite haunted moon-base and your wife-to-be is nowhere to be found.
It is played like an FPS, similar to a game like Amnesia: The Dark Descent and has great atmosphere, but can be somewhat boring to play on occasion as there are times when there simply isn’t enough going on to maintain one’s interest and it gets rather repetitive. There was a lot of potential with this game, but it ultimately falls a little flat.
That does seem Amnesia’esque with the heart rate meter and all. Sounds pretty intriguing as a break from more regular adventure gaming, though “life” usually takes care of that break and I rarely ever get to the genre-mixing games. One day. At least emulators should be mature enough by then (unless PS1/2 are there already).