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Posted on Nov 10th 2009 at 10:49:51 PM by (Ack)
Posted under Echo Night, PlayStation 2, horror, classic gaming

Echo Night: Beyond



Since last week I went with a very well known title in horror gaming, I figured I'd go for something a little bit more obscure, and a bit more mellow.  In fact, this odd futuristic ghost story is more sorrowful than anything else.  That doesn't mean it's without it's freakier moments, but the gameplay in this title doesn't have all the big action sequences of other titles.  It's also the third in the Echo Night series, so if you're familiar with those, you should know what to expect.

In Echo Night: Beyond, you play Richard Osmond, a passenger on a space shuttle heading to a small lunar base.  His fiance, Claudia, lives there, and it's their intention to marry once he arrives.  But things don't go according to plan.  His shuttle crash lands, colliding with the very place you're trying to get.  Richard awakens to find himself alone in the wrecked shuttle.  He decides to grab a spacesuit and enter the base to find Claudia.

Unfortunately for Richard, it appears everyone inside the base is dead, the power is out, and ghosts are wandering the halls.  To progress in the story, you'll have to find various items and appease the wandering spirits so that their souls get released from this mortal coil.  To do this, you'll have to talk to them, which is a bit unsettling as they tend to fade in and out depending on how close you are.  There's also lots of backtracking in the game, which can become annoying, though much of the game takes place around a central junction, so nothing is ever terribly far away.



So, you're wandering in the dark, there are corpses everywhere, and their ghosts are wandering around.  Could it get worse?  Well yes, actually.  You see, there's a bizarre mist that has spread throughout the base, making ghosts that inhabit it hostile, and if they get near you for long enough, your heart rate will spike and you'll go into cardiac arrest.  This means two things: every encounter can be fatal fast, and your only options are to run away.  There's no camera to fight with, no proton packs, no nothing.  Instead, you have to sneak past them and pray one doesn't find you.

Also, the game's first person view really adds to the tension here, because these ghosts just have to be near you.  You don't have to see them, and likely you won't: as your heart rates goes up, your vision blacks out.  It can be a harrowing experience to enter a room with one and suddenly scramble for the door, only to realize you can hardly see where you're going.  And if you do see it, well...some of these things get downright creepy.

Still, ghosts register on film, so you can use the vast network of security cameras to watch their patterns and discover their routes, since most of them follow set paths.  Note I said most: there's one ghost in particular that will stalk you throughout the game, and he knows when you're using a security camera.  Whenever you look at him he's got a nasty habit of looking back at you.



And then there's the atmosphere: you'll spend a good chunk of the game wandering around with just a flashlight, though it's not as bad as when you wander outside in my opinion.  Once outside, there's little gravity so you jump really far, and the lighting gets a bit odd.  The first time outside, I nearly threw myself off a cliff into a crater.  To make matters worse, there are quite a few jumping puzzles while outside, and you do still have to look out for spirits.

The lack of action might bother some players, so this game definitely isn't meant for everyone.  But if you're a fan of the old point-and-click adventure gameplay or enjoyed titles like Penumbra or other first person horror games, such as Juggernaut, D, or Hellnight, this may be right up your alley.  And as an added bonus, it saw release in all three major regions, so getting it shouldn't be too difficult.  Just be aware that in Japan it's known as Nebula: Echo Night.



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