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EchoBlade (XSX) Review with Stream

EchoBlade deserves some credit for trying something different. Playing as a blind swordsman, the goal is to escape a vast dungeon by collecting a bunch of keys, killing a ton of mindless guards, and avoiding traps along the way. Both the gameplay and presentation is simple, yet approachable, but to a fault. Even though it succumbs to tedious repetition quickly, it is still playable for those who want to earn easy Achievements.

The entire concept sounds cool but ultimately doesn’t make sense. For reasons the game never explains, you are blind and locked deep within a windowless dungeon. Then, for no reason at all, a guard opens your cell door, gives you a sword, and wishes you luck as you try and find the exit. Then, each guard you encounter mindlessly charges toward you and starts attacking. Wouldn’t these guards want to talk to a slowly approaching blind person? Especially one that appeared from nowhere? In a massive dungeon that is filled with large empty spaces? The story and approach doesn’t make any sense but, you know, video game.

Unfortunately, the main gimmick of the game is also its biggest problem. Since you are blind, the player can only see general outlines of objects within close proximity.  By clicking the analog stick, noise is made with is represented as a visual wave, allowing the player to see a few feet ahead for a brief time. This means the player will constantly be clicking the stick to see anything. The worst part, there is no mapping system so it is very easy to lose track of where you are and where you are going. This, in combination with large, open spaces, and the player will undoubtedly get frustrated with tedious backtracking. The only landmarks are white torches that shine through the blackness, but they all look the same which can make things even more confusing.  Eventually, the player is made aware that some rooms have more than one exit, each leading to a required key. From a gameplay standpoint, it makes sense there would not be a map. You are blind after all and wouldn’t be able to read it. But from the player’s perspective, not having an auto generating 2D map to accompany your movements is very tedious. The dungeon design often has these little outlets that don’t lead anywhere, adding to the confusion.

Combat isn’t satisfying either. Even though some guards take more hits that others, they all react the same way. Just swing, back up, and repeat until dead. There is a dodge juke move, but it isn’t necessary. The same goes for the crossbow. These ranged attacks take forever to reload and provide no accuracy or response to hit detection.  Enemies also respawn when you exit and re-enter an area.

It takes a few hours to collect all the keys and reach the exit, but all the Achievements can be unlocked in less than 30 minutes.  EchoBlade is obviously a low cost, low budget dungeon crawler, and I appreciate the originality, but there just isn’t enough meat on the bone. Exploring is tedious, combat is dull, and the unlockable enhancements barely make a difference. However, now that a foundation is set, this is one of those games that could benefit from a sequel to iron out some of the shortcomings.

Reminds Me Of: Crypt of the Serpent King

Much Simpler Than: any Souls game

Also Try: watching the Dare Devil Marvel series on D+

By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief

Twitter: @ZackGaz

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