Echo Generation is a turn-based adventure game about a gang of kids investigating supernatural occurrences while battling monsters and mechs to save their small town.
Reviewed on: Xbox Series X
Also available for: Xbox Series S, Xbox One, PC
Game Director, Lead Programmer, Lead Writer: Martin Gauvreau
Art Direction: Vanessa Chia
Original Soundtrack: Pusher
There are equal parts Stranger Things and EarthBound vibes within Echo Generation, the fourth game from Canadian developer Cococucumber. Heck, the game had me thinking about the somewhat underappreciated Super 8 from director J.J Abrams as the cast of characters not only want to make a movie but set about investigating a strange crashed alien ship just outside of town. However, one important thing to note in separating things like Stranger Things and Super 8 from Echo Generation is the 90’s setting, which leads to tape collecting, different fashion sense, and the prestigious video store.
When beginning Echo Generation, there’s a selection of either male or female-presenting characters to select from, and you can name whichever one you choose. I decided on a redhead and called her Misty.
Leaving my home, I travelled about the neighbourhood searching for an orange safety cone which is what my sister needed to come out and play with me instead of watching cartoons all day. I also appreciated the beautiful voxel art style that rides a thin line between the more Minecraft inspired look and becoming a 3D game. It’s gorgeous, paired with the instantly likable synth soundtrack; it’s easy to fall for Echo Generation. Continuing my introduction to my hometown, I found a racoon in the middle of the street rattling about in a bin who challenges me to a fight, and it’s here I learn the basics of Echo Generations combat under duress.
Echo Generation features turned-based combat, with basic attacks or special attacks and unlocked abilities as you progress through the game that uses a limited SP pool that your party shares. A basic attack requires a timed button press to perform efficiently, as does blocking an enemy attack. Each special attack has a unique mini-game you must perform to achieve maximum damage and efficiency of any added benefits like stunning or poisoning the enemy. These mini-games range from timed button prompts to rotating the analogue stick quickly to create a whirlpool.
After finding the cone and recruiting your sister to the party, you’ll soon battle your way to a crash-landed space shift and begin searching for clues as to its appearance. Along the way, you’ll add your family cat to form your party fully, and before long, it’s time for the first of many boss battles.
Each of the boss battles in Echo Generation is a standout experience. Especially as the game commits to having a universe that doesn’t make any sense, you’ll battle robot mechs, ghost cats, cosmic beasts and more as the little town you live in is connected to a haunting animal graveyard, a military base and an experimental research field. There are a couple of areas in the game where random enemy encounters are possible, but for the most part, the game has been designed around the difficulty of mini-boss encounters arcing up to a boss fight in each area.
Some of the mini-games for the special attacks can be hard to perform, and messing one of them up, along with a block, can lead to an early defeat. I didn’t feel the need to farm up experience at any stage, as a loss often was the cause of failing a mini-game during the battle. With that said, the game does contain only one difficulty. For some players who may struggle with the mini-games, there’s no accessibility options, or less-punishing difficulty option available.
Between the turned-based combat, I spent a lot of time wandering back and forth between my characters house and the surrounding areas. In the early game, any battle often left me with no health and not wanting to burn through the limited healing items; I wandered 3-6 screens back to my house to sleep and heal myself. It became tedious, but unfortunately, there’s no other option.