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Echoes of Terra

Echoes of Terra


Developer: Leonardo J. Ceballos The title screen.The title screen.
Released: 2010.12.02
Genre: SciFi
Graphics: Pixel art / 2D
Perspective: Third person
Gameplay: Point-and-Click










Echoes of Terra is a science fiction story which takes place in the far future of humanity. The background story is that once upon a time, during the First Humanity, the Terran Empire managed to spread and rule large parts of space. Then something came and crushed the human settlements, including the Earth itself. A small number of humans survived, created the Ark project, and try to start human presence again on another planet, Exodus. But they weren't the only ones to have set foot on that planet.

The scope of the game is very small, it consists of only few rooms, five according to the developer, few more if you count rooms in the game design sense (as in separate backgrounds, not necessarily rooms in the spatial sense). Either way, the game is very small and very short. But that doesn't take anything away from it, because in those few rooms the game offers much more than many other games through countless of locations and long narratives.

There is so much to this game. Inside its small core, it holds traditional point-and-click puzzles, action in the form of shooting scenes, unusual and rarely seen psychic power function that can show rooms and items in another time than current time, a surprising and unexpected plot twist, and of course the story itself. In the story the player protagonist finds himself woken up in an old Terran structure of some kind located on a presumably dead moon, trying to find out what's going on and what secrets the place holds. And the protagonist is not alone there.

Something mysterious is afoot.Something mysterious is afoot.
The overall science fiction atmosphere is very high here, it would not be out of place to place this game in the same category as some well-known titles of the genre. The technical execution doesn't quite match the overall quality of the game, for instance character animation is a bit clumsy and and there are some minor usability issues, such as some locations being unnecessarily big, meaning that performing a theoretically right action may not reveal the right clues, because they happen to be in an area outside of the visible screen canvas. And while the game is short and relatively easy, there isn't enough help and hints available for the final puzzle. This may be intentional, but when the player is performing what seems to be a correct solution, that doesn't even trigger a traditional "this is the right kind of idea, but I also need to..." dialogue that many other games have.

Credit needs to be given where credit is due, and that's all about the great ideas this game has. One wouldn't expect a game of this size to have combat elements, nor unusual game mechanics, such as psychic power. While both are probably a bit overused, especially the room count makes the action parts too dominant in the game, it's delighting to see the developer trying to come up with something out of the ordinary and incorporate it in the way that makes sense plotwise too.

Shooting action.Shooting action.
The game allows unrestricted saving, which is also needed, as you can die during the action sequences. There are no voiceovers, and none are really needed, the music and sound effects are nothing special, but do the job that fits the purpose. Here and there one can sense a slightly unfinished feeling, some dialogues are repeated even after some event occurs that makes them past tense, and there are a couple of spelling errors too. That's all nitty-picky though, overall the game is of very high quality for its kind.

Most players would probably say that the game is too short, and apart from finding the right clues to the final puzzle, very easy. But it is always better to be left wanting for more, rather than being fed up with boredom and repetitiveness. For a short while that the playthrough lasts, the game is very good, with a wonderful atmosphere and some close to unique ideas. Echoes of Terra is one of those games that show how game length and quality are two separate things. The combat elements are surely not to everyone's liking, but those who don't mind them will have a good, albeit brief, time with this game.

The door is locked.The door is locked.



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