Up To Eleven: Dark Echo Makes Audio Into Gameplay

Dark Echo [official website] is one of the most interesting examples of audio-as-gameplay that I’ve come across. In fact, if you’re not playing with headphones then you’re doing it wrong.

The idea is that you’re trapped in darkness and can use only sound to guide yourself through the environment. The result is an incredibly weird, minimalist project made up of footsteps, echo-location and abstract geometry of echoing sound, and couched in a plotline about a horrifying evil that devours sound and souls.

Dark Echo is out on Steam with a launch price of £1.33.

Ludum Dare fans might recognise it by its earlier incarnation, a little game made in 48 hours called You Must Escape which at the time got to second place of 1600 entries. Dark Echo is a much heftier game, however. The entire thing is 80-levels big, puzzle-heavy and exploration-friendly. It released on mobile a couple of months back, and has only just launched on Steam, and it’s a beaut’. Have a look at the trailer:

9 Comments

  1. Oakreef says:

    I’ve yet to see a game that talks about navigating by “audio” that actually does that instead of doing some sort of visual representation of echolocation. I imagine if you were able to do accurate sound simulation you could so some interesting stuff with a good pair of headphones and head tracking device (like a VR headset) but no visuals.

    • Baines says:

      Wasn’t there some indie game/project that was shown off where the gimmick was that the player wore some kind of hood and had to avoid a monster by sound?

    • Bugamn says:

      Have you seen Blind Monk’s Society? link to moddb.com

      It is a mod for Half Life 2 that had no graphics, only sound. I never managed to go far in it.

      • TheSplund says:

        ta – saved me a desperate search on Google! I must re-install that (haven’t played it since it’s release)

    • SimonPetrikov says:

      ta-da

      link to itunes.apple.com

      • SimonPetrikov says:

        link got abbreviated;

        it’s an iOS game series called Papa Sangre which basically is precisely what you were describing

  2. fahrenheit451 says:

    I feel like something like this would play really well on occulous rift. Obviously the selling point of the device wouldn’t be too useful but imagine what positional head tracking and thier new 3D sound whats-it could add to a sound-only game

    • theblindswordsman says:

      fahrenheit451 – I have made an audio-only game with head tracking and the new Oculus Audio SDK for positional audio for the Mobile VR Jam. It’s only for the GearVR at the moment but I might port it to the Rift in the future. Here it is if you want to check it out – link to vrjam.challengepost.com

      You play a blind swordsman in a dojo, and you have to determine the position of your enemies only from their footsteps and other sounds, and kill them before they kill you.

  3. blind_boy_grunt says:

    for some reason i got a bit obsessed about this: link to youtube.com (i mean i still know the name 3 years after it was made as a 7dfps entry, most of the time i can’t remember what i played an hour ago).
    I think what i liked most was that shooting became such a dangerous thing, it was so loud that you were disoriented for a time after each shot.
    Also trying to make sense of what you see was hard, Dark Echo is a bit too easy to “grasp” (at least the ludum dare prototype).