Do you remember what it was like being a teen and going on adventures with no care in the world? There were no restraints nor a sense of responsibility; we were free from the constraints of life. It is probably why most RPGs allow us to play as ‘the formidable’ teenager. They are capable yet free; what better hero to go on an adventure with. Like any good Turn-based RPG, Echo Generation does the same thing and puts players in the shoes of their own teen, who they can slightly make their own.
What is Echo Generation?
Echo Generation is a turn-based adventure game with RPG elements. Set in 1993 in a small town called Maple Town, a young teen and their sister set out on an adventure to discover the source of a mysterious crash. As you explore the town, you will find things are not what they seem and that this adventure is just getting started.
While on an adventure to find out what has happened, you and your sister will recruit some animal companions to help even the score. Will you find out the source of the crash and why your town is filled with monsters that no one seems to notice all of a sudden.
Stranger Things the Game
If you think this looks and sounds like Stranger Things, you’re not alone, as this was my first thought. It is evident that the developer was inspired by Stranger Things and made the type of game it should’ve been. Yet it is different enough that it isn’t a copy and makes the things it is inspired by its own. It isn’t just the whole nostalgia of a bygone period that makes me think Stranger Things; it is the story, the mystery, everything.
Besides the apparent Stranger Things vibes this game gave off, there was so much more I enjoyed about the game. Of course, one of the main highlights was the story, which had me interested throughout my whole adventure. It was that mix of mystery and intrigue with other world going ons that had me by my seat. I wanted to know what happened; were the monsters always here, and so much more that I won’t reveal, in fear of ruining the story. This was right up my alley for someone who likes sci-fi and horror shows like Stranger Things, X-files and more, with mystery.
For me, I found the turn-based combat fun and addictive.
In Echo Generations, characters and enemies take turns attacking each other. Each character has a normal attack and three skilled attacks unless it is your character and their sister, where it is instead nine skilled attacks. The skilled attacks use skill points from a combined pool of all three of the current party members allocated skill points. Attacks aren’t simply do this attack, and it will happen as I needed to follow whatever attack or skill I used with a button prompt. The button prompts ranged from the basic, like pressing the A button just before your character attacks, to the more complicated stuff like pressing a series of buttons to pull off an amazing skill.
Skills and Quests
It isn’t just the glitter of pressing the button prompts and getting it perfect that makes battles fun; it is also the diverse range of attacks for the two main characters and how they earn them. When first starting Echo generations, I started with just my chosen character, with my first quest being to take my sister along, aka my second and main party member.
Both characters only begin with a basic attack, and unlike most RPGs where skills are unlocked through levelling up, here, I needed to find comics to earn new skills. Some were easy to find, like both characters’ first ones, but others were, maybe, a tad harder and needed me to finish a series of quests like adding three items to the treehouse or buying a comic to unlock them. I loved this way of earning my skills because it meant I didn’t have to be at a certain level to unlock them and could enjoy the game the way I wanted.
Skills aren’t the only thing I could do how I wanted, but also the way I experienced the story. Most times, when I play an RPG, there is a prescribed way to complete the story, and certain sections have to be completed before moving on to the next. Not here, because there are many times when I could do quests simultaneously as others leading to multiple different ways to move forward. This doesn’t change the story in any way, but it is always nice knowing that I could have done three various quests before the quests I actually finished first.
Besides the main quests, there are some minor side quests, but weirdly, they still felt important, especially if I wanted to unlock all the skills for my characters. It was an interesting way to make me do quests because normally I would do a few and not bother with most would only reward me with money, which if you have played RPG, then you know how easy it is to earn money in them.
Money Makes the World Go Around
One thing I did find strange in Echo Generations was how hard it was to come by money and levelling up before a recent update. Like we all know, the crux of an RPG is grinding money and levels, but before the patch, it was harder to earn that sweet coin we all love. It meant I was always careful with what I spent my money on because the last thing I wanted to do was spend to only realise I should have bought something else.
The money earned wasn’t the only thing that changed with a recent patch, but how much I could battle enemies. Before the patch, enemies barely spawned, making Echo Generation a tad difficult because it meant every attack had to be perfect if I wanted to beat enemies. It meant there were times I needed to complete the same battle, again and again, trying to perfect my button prompts to an almost perfect level.
For me, it just meant I chose the attacks I knew I could pull off perfectly. It’s not like I changed the way I played, but when the patch was added, I experimented more with skills. The patch made things more accessible, which I enjoyed; I just think there should have been an option to play the old-school way, maybe a harder difficulty?
Besides you and your sister, I could have five pet companions on my team. Like I said prior, each pet companion only had three skills and started with less HP than the two main characters. This was fine and all because every time I levelled up, the companion I had wasn’t too far behind, which meant I levelled up some of the categories for them to catch up.
There was but one problem with the way this was handled. Every time I recruited a new companion, they started at level one, which was annoying. It was made more annoying when I had my two mains at level 12, fighting strong enemies, to only have recruited a new companion that I would never use because they were too weak to enter battles. I did want to try the other companions, but because they wouldn’t level up, I sadly only used the first pet because of how strong it was, plus I liked and got used to his abilities as it complimented my playstyle.
I really enjoyed my time with Echo Generation and apart from the party members not levelling up with my characters, everything else I loved. I even enjoyed it before it was patched, yes it was hard, but it was still fun to play.
This might not be a Stranger Things game by name, but anyone who has watched and enjoyed the show needs to do themselves a favour and play it now. It isn’t just fans of Stranger Things that will enjoy this, but also anyone that loves a good turn-based game. Overall, Echo Generations will take most players around 8-10 hours to complete, and that’s with doing everything the game has to offer.
As much as I am a fan of Echo Generation’s tonal shifts and overall story and characters, I was kind of let down by its combat. It felt very stiff and the button prompts – at times – did not seem to work as efficiently as required, especially since without executing perfectly the special attacks you are basically done for. Also, the enemy respawns worked at random, sometimes the game seemed to want me to grind and level up, other times it didn’t.
Since everything else in EG is so well done, I would have preferred the combat to be slightly less stressful and just more overall “pleasant”. But I guess that’s really a “me” problem 😀