There are some rather niche things a lot of people would love to see again - another proper Super Mario RPG, another Earthbound/Mother game, comedic point-and-click, and hey, what if more Stranger Things happened? Moreover over, what if you took all of those things and wrapped them in a lovely and charming voxel package. I recently got a chance to play an early build of Echo Generation during the Steam Game Festival 2021 and, by all considerations, this cornucopia of fun feels like all of those things put together and more.
The story of a voxel boy in town fighting raccoons & monsters
Echo Generation is a modern-styled RPG in which you play as Dylan, your everyday hockey-loving, D&D-playing suburban kid with dreams of making a movie with his friends. Dylan’s town has a few quirky characters and a feisty raccoon problem, but something more sinister is at work. After he and his sister discover a disturbing scene, it seems as though some alien or interdimensional invaders could be in play in their town’s backyard corn fields.
Developer Cococucumber's Echo Generation is a clear homage to a lot of things. Every bit of its story shows off a love of Spielberg and Stranger Things, but more than that, Echo Generation’s creators have a clear love of a lot of good gaming aesthetic that came before. The town has a string of quests that have you delivering items between characters like a Ron Gilbert point-and-click adventure, the modern motif features dogs, cats, and raccoons alongside humans with bizarre and wry senses of humor, and the foes you come across range from quirky and cute to downright creepy, well encapsulated in the game’s unique voxel art style. However, Echo Generation is more than a multi-page loveletter to pop culture and gaming nostalgia. It works functionally as well.
Time the attack for critical voxels
On the matter of functionality, let’s talk about the RPG elements of Echo Generation. When you get into a fight it becomes clear pretty fast how much this game is inspired like Paper Mario. Battles are a JRPG turn-based affair in which each of your characters can lob a regular attack, a special ability, or use an item. In terms of attacks or abilities, every attack has a special button press challenge during the action where you can make it stronger with the right timing. It ranges from hitting the button when a circle fills, to putting in a button combination as it appears, to stopping an arrow in a sweet spot on a bar. I always loved this stuff in the Paper Mario games because it keeps you engaged in the fight and Echo Generation uses it well for things like hockey shoulder checks or boxing glove jabs.
I also mentioned a little item fetch-questing in this game and that’s a big thing as well. Many of Echo Generation’s characters in the demo seemed to be looking for something or another which would help you. Sometimes it means moving the story forward, such as supplying a scary puppet with a doll friend from a creepy man’s home to get a key. Other times, it has more of a bonus implication, such as getting some Christmas lights so you can trade to get into your town’s secret treehouse shop. Either way, exploring your surroundings in Echo Generation looks like it’s going to pay off big time and open up more than a few quirky moments as you go.
A slice of life… and monsters and mayhem
Echo Generation threw a lot at me during my short time with it, but I was enthralled with what I saw. There’s a good sense of humor and charm in the demo, and underneath that is absolutely something more creepy and sinister. I don’t know what developer Cococucumber is up to with this one, but I know they’ve got their hooks in me and I absolutely want to see more. With the game set to arrive sometime in 2021, here’s hoping we won’t be waiting too long to find out more about this quirky voxel RPG adventure.
This preview is based on an early Steam demo build provided by the publisher. Echo Generation’s demo will be available in the Steam Game Festival 2021 and the game will launch in 2021 on Xbox One, Xbox Series X and S, and Steam on PC.
TJ Denzer posted a new article, Steam Game Festival 2021: Echo Generation hands-on preview
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