Echo of the Wilds – Journey through randomly-generated wilderness filled with ghosts

Gare – Sunday, March 23, 2014 9:09 AM
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It is difficult to determine exactly what sort of a game Echo of the Wilds is. I could call it a survivor simulation, but I suspect the term, in itself, would be insufficient in covering all aspects of the title. The brief, two-minute trailer for the game confirms our suspicions: the protagonist of Echo in the Wilds finds him/herself in the middle of a lush woodland, with the primarily goal being daily survival – and yet, it is very much evident that something eerie and supernatural is also at work here. Our day-to-day activities will still largely consists of, well, finding wood for our campfire to not die from the cold – but there is, it appears, still a bigger picture to consider.

In fact, the very beginning sees our hero guided by a spirit – a vision of sorts? –, all in order to learn the basics: one must find wood and leaves in order to sustain the warmth-giving fire, or face an early death during the cold night. Much like in, say, Minecraft, the player also has the opportunity to combine various materials and items in order to craft tools (for example, an axe to cut trees with) that help with the whole survival effort. Frankly speaking, this is more or less what the tutorial deems sufficient to share, and proceeds to promptly throw the player into the thick of it. To spice things up even more, our hero is frequently haunted by peculiar and often disturbing visions at night, and finds a variety of statues and altars scattered around the wilderness that further heighten the otherworldly flavor of the title. In addition to the visuals, the narrative is written in a playful/humorous and somewhat poetic style that, I must admit, does get slightly forced and jarring at times, but for the most part adds to the unique atmosphere.

Echo of the Wilds is the sort of game where you genuinely wonder what exactly is going on for the first 30 or so minutes – the game will not hold the player’s hand and consequently expects them to explore, discover and experiment in order to find out what the world is all about and more importantly, why it even exists in the first place. Granted, this may lead to certain levels of frustration. I found myself constantly dying of hunger simply because the sun had set before I managed to find enough food or wood – however, for the patient adventurer, I would nonetheless still recommend the playable demo, currently available on the developer’s website.

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