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Review of Echo

SubjectEcho
Echo (1 Year Anniversary Version)
ByHelpfulness: 0
Vote: 9
kaikaidou on 2022-11-20 last updated on 2022-11-24
Review*biased review incoming*

I'm sorry, I know that we're supposed to be as objective as possible but I can't help myself. Echo has been one of the most influential games for me in recent memory, so much so that it's even helped sparked my interest in visual novels as a storytelling medium. Without it, I probably wouldn't even be here on this site right now.

I should preface by saying that yes, Echo is a furry game, and yes it is also gay, but I don't think you should judge it solely on that. Echo has a lot to offer in substance and in meaning. also, there are only like 3 sex scenes, 2 gay, 1 straight (very few considering it's a visual novel) and they don't last long and/or are very skippable.

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Echo follows the story of 6 friends as they decide to reconnect in Echo, an almost deserted southwestern town filled with meth addicts and not much else. It's no secret the towns going under, but something strange is happening in Echo. The people, at least those who remain, have started acting weirder than usual. Since entering the town, an unknown voice permeates the back of your head and tells you what to do, and you're no stranger to experiencing strange visions in the town but now other people are seeing them too, beckoning them outside their window, and they say it looks an awful lot like you.

The first time I read Echo I couldn't put it down. its mysteries are all deeply unsettling and interesting, and the situations the characters find themselves in are all unique to their own personal struggles, whether it be identity, self-loathing, or learning to move on. On the topic of horror, Echo managed to scare me with just text and static images, due to the oppressive atmosphere of the town and its inhabitants. I always felt on edge in Echo, like the town itself was slowly suffocating me. The writing in general is just great. It can be beautiful at times or downright sadistic when it wants to be. Nothing is at it seems in Echo and as you read on, the truth only gets murkier. but fair warning, a fair few mysteries pertaining to the town of Echo aren't really answered in the vn. Instead, they are given to its prequel series, The Smoke Room. Either way, I never really had a problem that not every question had a set answer, as it makes the town more unsettling and it results in the game still feeling creepy even during replays.

More than its mystery, a good chunk of Echo's playtime is focused on its characters and their interpersonal drama. Characters in Echo aren't one note, everyone has their own deeply personal and intertwined histories, things they've done that they regret, and their own motivations as to why they've come back to, or never left the town of Echo. Other than being their own fully-fledged people, Echo makes their friendship believable. I say friendship, but the group's dynamic is more that of a dysfunctional family. They arent averse to bickering or fighting with each other on every other occasion, a consequence of forming through the necessity of survival instead of camaraderie, but it's still painfully obvious that they care for each other. Echo has 5 routes, and even if all of them contain some sort of "romance", and I use that word very sparingly, Echo isn't a dating sim. It's a story about broken people at its core, broken people trying to escape their past and learning to grow and move on.

The art in Echo is very good. Although there aren't that many cgs, it is a free game after all, the ones that are there are all really well drawn and improve the atmosphere and tension of the writing. Even when they weren't present, I never felt lost as to what was happening, especially during action scenes. I also want to give props to the music of the game which really enhanced the emotional moments for me (and also made me cry)

Although I did say this review would be biased, I'm not delusional, some parts of the game really aren't worth defending, most notably Carl's route. I don't know what happened, maybe the writer just didn't like him, but man his route just goes on for way too long with nothing of note, and while there were some interesting ideas present, I don't think they got anywhere near the level of quality of other routes. But I won't spoil it, you'll have to experience it for yourself.

I guess to cap off this review, ill give you my preferred story order which is:
Leo -> Carl -> Tj -> Flynn -> Jenna

Have fun and don't forget you're always moving in circles ;D
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Comments

#1 by cheekyman07
2022-11-21 at 00:57
< report >So if im reading this right, this is worth reading for its story? Regardless of the readers taste?

I'll be honest here this is pretty far from my taste so I have avoided reading pretty much any vn with these themes.

But if it really is a good story then moving taste aside for story sake might make it worth it.
#2 by kaikaidou
2022-11-24 at 05:58
< report >well, you'd probably need to be a fan of psychological horror to fully enjoy it but if you're on the fence about it, i'd say just play through the common route. it's like 2 hours and it gives a pretty good idea as to what the rest of the game is like.