ECHO, a sci-fi stealth game with action elements, subtly encourages a pacifist playstyle as the enemy AI’s abilities widen depending on player actions.
Created by an eight-man team comprised of former Hitman developers, ECHO is a third-person sci-fi stealth action game where enemies’ abilities are strictly limited to the actions performed by the player character. Simple actions, from sneaking and opening doors to vaulting from obstacles and running, can be learned and forgotten by the enemy AI. The Palace (the main environment of the game) updates the Echoes (exact copies of the character) once in a while to reprogram their behavior based on main character En’s actions. Apparently, players can use the blackout cycle to their advantage to dumb down the AI.
Shown in developer Ultra Ultra’s ECHO gameplay commentary, the Echoes can become either aggressive or stupendously slow and incapable of performing basic tasks. Aside from refraining from opening doors and using lifts to limit Echoes in certain areas, abstaining from performing lethal actions makes Echoes ineffective in combat and only carry the knowledge of a counterable grapple move. Essentially, players must be conscious of the actions they perform.
ECHO is the complete opposite of stealth games such as Dishonored and Deus Ex, which have a breadth of special abilities, where performing a pacifist playthrough is the more difficult option. Additionally, En lacks versatility in combat prowess as her lethal moves consist of choking enemies, shooting guns, and throwing or bludgeoning NPCs with objects, which are all deadly when done to the player character. Echoes are also revived per blackout cycle, making it seemingly senseless for En to kill enemies.
ECHO launches on September 19, 2017 for PC and PS4. This is Denmark-based Ultra Ultra’s first game since the studio was founded in 2015.