Echo generation is a beautiful short game so I will do my best to keep this review short and sweet.
Echo Generation is a gorgeous pixelated adventure game with some of my favorite mechanics from RPG franchises of the past. Developed and published by Cococucumber, Echo Generation puts you in control of what I can only assume is a high school kid who is tasked with taking care of their little sister throughout a handful of days. The whole plan is to get your friends together to make a movie but things take a turn for the weird very quickly. Echo Generation follows similar foot prints of EarthBound (Mother) where a group of kids just get together and have to battle their way through enemies to save the day. There is a wonderful mix of exploring, puzzle solving, turn based combat (all I ever want in RPGs), boss battles and incredible interactions with friends and townsfolk.
I won’t go into spoiler territory because Echo Generation is free on GamePass and is absolutely worth the handful of hours to play through. Instead of doing a long in depth review I’ll highlight some minor dislikes and the long list of reasons why you should play this game.
Although I am a HUGE fan of turn based combat in my RPGs (every Final Fantasy up to 13) the combat system and leveling system in Echo generation takes a bit to get used to. Your party consists of you, your sister and one of the various pets you can befriend throughout the game each having 3 stat allocations, Health, Damage, and SP (special power/points I assume). Leveling up early comes quickly enough, but it isn’t made super clear which stats are important. Health is an absolute must since later on in the game enemies can one shot you even if you block successfully but haven’t increased your health. Once I felt comfortable where my health was I immediately dumped the rest of my levels into SP because the special moves in combat are 1000x more valuable and satisfying than normal attacks. You learn new special attacks by completing side missions and finding comic books and they are significantly more effective than just punching or stomping enemies. Each special attack has its own unique feel to it and the mini games you have to complete to get full damage are a great addition to the game, but the issue still lies in your stat allocations. If you get one shot because you have low health then you can soft lock yourself out of the game. If you don’t have enough SP then you can only do a couple special attacks then need to replenish your SP or just punch till the enemy dies. The damage stat in hindsight seems pretty throw away since the special attack damages can get pretty high towards the later half of the game and can inflict statuses like bleed or poison.
As you progress you can unlock new pets to join you, some being required for story progression. There are a few problems here. When you gain a new pet to your party they ALWAYS start at Level 1. They get 1 shot in every fight and their SP pool is so low it is actually a detriment in combat to use them if you don’t spend the time to level them. I also found 2 of the pets to just be way better than the others especially in a support/healing role. It would have been nice to have the new pets match the level you acquire them at or even a few levels below. I also would have loved for a more conventional 4 player party system in place of 3, but like I said its a small game that won me over regardless. One final point before I explain why Echo Generation is a must play experience of an indie game. There aren’t always clear signs as to what to do next. You have to remember a ton of items for a good number of townsfolk in order to progress and complete their side missions. Echo Generation comes with a fair amount of back tracking to remember who needs what, where you can find them and how to get it. So just try to keep mental notes of general locations for items to potentially be.
Echo Generation OOZES style. Imagine is the kids from Stranger Things were pixelated and in the small town of EarthBound. You have that early 90s aesthetic fueled by one of the best soundtracks I have ever heard in gaming (I am listening to it now on Spotify as I write this) and quite literally one of the most beautiful and unique art styles and color pallets I have ever seen in a videogame. I put the Echo Generation soundtrack right up there next to the Death’s Door soundtrack for my 2 favorite of 2021. Every environment is crafted perfectly, each feeling distinct from the last with its own thumming synth score behind it and color scheme. I shit you not I found myself in awe at some of the locations and just how gorgeous some of the environments were. Some standouts being the graveyard, the Wendageddon boss fight and the ridge overlook just before entering the junk yard. Even if you don’t plan on playing Echo Generation, which you should, go watch a walk through on Youtube and you will see first hand how absolutely stunning this game looks and how much work was done for a small pixelated indie game in Unity. It is a marvel to stare at and I applaud everyone who worked on this game. See for yourself how great it looks and hear the incredible soundtrack on Spotify.
Although I have some minor gripes with the combat system, once I had my handle on it I started to thoroughly enjoy the special moves and mini games that came along with them. It was a brilliant addition to separate itself from other traditional turn based combat RPGs. Every character, including your pets, has charming personalities that get you invested in them and the story unfolding around them. I’ve seen questions pop up online around whether or not the events taking place are really happening or if it is all a part of these kids’ imaginations, and honestly, I love the ambiguity. Are monsters, robots, and aliens really trying to take over this small town or are these video project kids just making this up in their heads? Every aspect of Echo Generation is wonderfully crafted and lures you in with its charm and I wish more games were like it. Light hearted with potential serious world implications that may or may not be the imaginations of a group of kids during their summer break.
Another huge highlight in Echo Generation are the boss fights. I’d argue there are just as many bosses as there are regular enemies and it gives a perfectly times pace to the progression. Not only are they all unique in combat, but they all look visually stunning. There is a ton of enemy variety and having such great variety shows how much care the team put into pacing the game so players don’t feel like they’re spending too much times fighting the same things over and over again.
Outside of some minor annoyances I had with the stats and combat systems, literally everything else for Echo Generation hits a perfect sweet spot. Combat is still great, I will 100% buy the soundtrack if it ever gets a vinyl printing, the art style is one of the most unique I have ever seen, the pacing is done well and nearly everything in Echo Generation just oozes early 90s style. This is a game I truly wish can be expanded upon at some point in the future. I would love to see more of THIS whether it be content updates being added, full DLC packages, or even sequels. Echo Generation is a beautifully crafted game that stands on its own, especially for an indie game in a year where gaming feels so stale. Echo Generation is currently free on Xbox GamePass is and absolutely with out a doubt worth picking up and experiencing.
Echo Generation Review
4.5 – Rapping Hat Wearing Raccoons – out of 5