Fulfill Your Commander Fantasies In ‘There Came An Echo’Filed inside: Games
As fun as it can be to be the one charging into combat with guns blazing, there’s something immensely satisfying about issuing orders to your minuscule little troops and crushing your foes with practiced precision.
Be it MOBA or RTS, there’s a reason that games of these sorts continue to dominate the eSports scene. Not only are they one of the game that most obviously reward raw skill, but also marry planning and execution in a way that few other genres can. However, this introduces a barrier that many gamers have trouble surmounting.
No matter your reasons for gaming, one cannot deny that to be “good” or at least “passable” at a game is an important component. While other games have more visible rewards for performance, it takes real dedication and research to improve at an RTS. It takes considerably more time and effort to get a return on that time investment, and finding players (if you don’t have friends that already play) that won’t absolutely stomp you becomes…tedious, at best.
So how does one solve these problems? These are games that absolutely lend themselves to competition, but prevent so many from enjoying the feeling that comes with executive tactics. The answer may just be an old gimmick that made a recent resurgence: voice controls. Enter There Came An Echo.
It’s an ambitious romp, especially from an indie studio that’s made only one other game thus far (Sequence), but the game dredged up more than enough attention back when it was seeking funds, breezing past its February 2013 Kickstarter goal of $90,000. While the game didn’t reach its top goals, it’s managed to buck a few of the trends that indie games follow these days, mainly due to the fact that you command your troops by speaking to them, rather than clicking on them with sticks and buttons.
It’s a remarkably simple concept, when you think about it. Certainly it won’t have the scope of your contemporary StarCraft game, but by trimming out the massive armies and enhancing their threat levels, Iridium Studios has managed to streamline commanding your squad.
Threats and key locations are given clear numbers and monikers, so navigation and assaults are easy to execute and adapt to. The game used a system to develop multiple commands but cut down on the number of separate words the game has to recognize, in order to cut down on misunderstood commands. The system also allows for more diverse commands than previous voice-based games, as well. Rather than issuing order to a single character or the full squad, you’re capable of saying things like “All units but Grace hold position”, to ensure that Grace maintains a previously standing order, while the others do not.
You’ll be making sure units focus on specific targets, keep their shields up, lay down cover for allies, or use more appropriate weapons for the encounters, all on the fly, and all without needing to navigate silly menus. Should you not like some of the commands, you can easily create custom voice commands to replace existing ones, so you can tell Grace to retreat by having her “back dat ass up”, should that be your desire.
Your squad isn’t just a batch of mute sponges, either, they survey the situations intelligently and will offer suggestions in real time, asking to support characters under fire or engage high value targets, which can be easily responded to with a mere “Affirmative” or “Negative”. It makes for much smarter and more responsive play than issuing basic patrol orders and having all your units immediately engage anything that enters range.
And unlike many other games that rely on more gimmicky elements like this, the game as a whole doesn’t seem to be resting on that crux so heavily that the rest of the game is too laughable. Well known YouTube composer Ronald Jenkees is providing the music, and some pretty major names in the nerd business are lending their voices and faces to the project, among them Ashley Burch (you might know her as Tiny Tina) and Wil Wheaton are both key players in the game.
The KickStarter prototype video was a simple thing, all lines and circles, but the presentation is a palatable isometric sci-fi view that isn’t all retro-inspired or pixellated for no specific reason. In fact, the color scheme is bright enough and cartoony enough to be interesting without appearing childish.
You haven’t too much time to wait, either. The game’s funding was put to good use and it would appear that we’re on track to get the game as a replacement for The Witcher III‘s old release date, February 24th for Xbox One and PlayStation 4. It’s also not terribly pricey, with pre-orders available for as little as $19.99 ($29.99 if you want a soundtrack, as well). Ready to try to play an RTS in a way you haven’t before? Maybe There Came An Echo will be your gateway.