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Echoes screenshot

Echoes review – A moody and intriguing mystery visual novel

One chapter you’re investigating the mysterious death of your best friend in a sleepy American town. The next, you’re hunting down an actual monster and in possession of an item that can… morph multiple people into one being. Echoes‘ plot is far-reaching, alright, and perhaps a little too far-fetched at times, but I still found this detective visual novel hard to put down.

Echoes sees you take on the role of Ricky Fox, an investigator who has been summoned to the small, seemingly sleepy town of Greenhearth. His best friend, the town’s psychiatrist, has just died. Ruled a suicide, Fox knows there’s more to it. But until he starts uncovering the secrets of Greenhearth, he doesn’t know quite how much more he’s yet to find out. Turns out this town’s mysteries are enough to die for.

It’s hard to talk about Echoes in detail without revealing too much about its narrative, because this is one you’re best to discover yourself. The small town setting gives off Twin Peaks vibes, for sure, but as the story kicks up a gear, it quickly becomes clear that the biggest influence here is Lovecraft.

Echoes screenshot
Image: Nova-box

Much of the game is a passive experience — it is a visual novel, after all — but there are plenty of opportunities to investigate crime scenes. As Fox, discovering evidence is important, as is knowing which person of interest to speak to, and what to ask them. There are four different endings to discover, and so the choices you make do matter.

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You’ll want to strive to make the best choices, too, because thanks to Echoes’ excellent writing, you’ll come to care about its characters — as messy as most of them are. The residents of Greenhearth are far from normal, most of them having their own quirks and interesting pasts. Getting to know them is important, not just for understanding Echoes’ story, but for being able to solve the mystery at hand. But I can’t say much more than that.

Echoes has a stunning art style. For the majority of the game, everything will be presented in black and white. Its hand-drawn art style is instantly eye-catching, even being devoid of colour, and getting to observe its locations and characters is almost enough to keep you invested on its own. What’s particularly neat is that as you move through the narrative, the colours change. As the events of Echoes become more dramatic, the soft, monochromatic art changes to harsh, black-and-white line drawings.

Echoes screenshot
Image: Nova-box

Eventually, you’ll even experience some scenes in colour — which, after becoming used to a muted, two-tone palette, is quite the pleasant surprise. Its sound design, too, is excellent: music is scarcely used, but when it does kick in, it’s to great effect, really making you pay attention to the events unfolding on screen.

Even if you’re not a huge visual novel fan, there’s enough interaction and intrigue in Echoes to keep you playing. Its story stretches from small-town thriller to full-on creature feature, and as far-fetched as it may be, it managed to get its hooks in me very early on. I might even jump in again at some point to uncover some of its other endings — something I rarely do.

This review of Echoes is based on the PC version, via a code provided by the publisher. It’s available on Switch and PC.

Echoes review - GameSpew's score

Echoes
8 10 0 1
With a fantastical story that will quickly draw you in and plenty of detective work to be done, Echoes is an excellent visual novel that we struggled to put down. Its gorgeous art style, that changes as the story progresses, is simply the icing on the cake.
With a fantastical story that will quickly draw you in and plenty of detective work to be done, Echoes is an excellent visual novel that we struggled to put down. Its gorgeous art style, that changes as the story progresses, is simply the icing on the cake.
8/10
Total Score

We like...

  • Beautiful art style
  • Excellent use of sound and music
  • Just the right amount of interactivity

We don't like...

  • Story perhaps a little too far-fetched at times

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