Enough with the sob stories!
In 1913, the ship Orpheus mysteriously vanished. Somehow, your father is linked to the events of the ship's disappearance. Through the aid of magical portals and such, you've been sent into the past to right some horrible wrongs and make the world happy again.
Echo Night is your basic three-dimensional graphic "point and click." You walk and look around, searching for "hot" items that you can interact with. Sometimes these items will be little, hard to find sets of pixels. Aside from looking, there are also a few clever puzzles scattered about. Stress on "few."
The flow of the game works like this: You find a tortured shadow person and start talking to him. He then tells you his sob story. Then you get transported into their sob story. You interact with their sob story for a bit, and possibly pick up an item. Then you get transported back to the shadow person. Now, you have to appease the shadow person by helping him out--either by some task or giving him what you found. Once appeased, the shadow person will go away. The back and forth nature of traveling to different events can get repetitious.
Often times, just traveling back and forth to collect an item constitutes a puzzle. However, some are more interesting and involved, such as one in which you're given two rooms that are exact mirrors of one another. When you walk into one of the rooms, a zombie woman pops out of the bathroom and starts screaming at you. How do you stop her? Go to the other room and block the bathroom with a radiator. When you go back to the first room, the zombie is stuck. Now you'll be able to cross the room and talk to yet another shadow person.
While dealing with the shadow people, bits and pieces of a story will be told to you. After you save all the tortured souls and get to the end, you'll uncover how your dad is involved with the mystery and the ultimate fate of the Orpheus.
Control wise, this game is awkward. It is often times not smooth and too slow. While Echo Night is not an action game, navigating around shouldn't have to be so clunky. If you're looking for the latest trip in survival horror, this is not the game.
Echo Night is in many ways a horror game, but not in the conventional sense. Rather than action and zombies, there's mood. The best scare of this game is the little ghost girl. She just pops up out of nowhere and starts giggling. Then she wails on your ass with some demonic powers. Where's the Ghostbusters when you need 'em?
The graphics aren't very smooth or sharp. In many places, the polygon mappings don't align. Things look dull and boring. The physical people look uninteresting and need better texture maps. The shadow people are all translucent gray, though I guess ghosts can't look all that spectacular.
The sound effectively adds to the game, but all the voices sound like they were done by one, stoned guy. Not exactly something that will make you care about the people that you're trying to help. By now, developers should have realized what a bad voice can do to a game. There are occasional clips of good music, but like the puzzles, they're few and far between.
Echo Night has some clever ideas, but the execution is severely lacking. It has the ability to keep a chilling mood, but is held back by technical inferiority. Had it been longer, smoother, and deeper, I might have gotten more out of this game. As it stands, however, I didn't get enough.