Fossil Echo Is A Ghibli-Inspired Stunner

We’re a bit late to mention Fossil Echo [official site], as it actually came out in July, but it’s still summer outside so it’s still topical and we can still enjoy cooing at its sunny stylings. The platformer is replete with desert beaches, temple ruins reclaimed by deep jungle, icy stone towers, and dazzling midnight skies. Paired with an aching orchestral soundtrack that will do a number on your heartstrings, Fossil Echo looks like a challenging platformer with plenty of atmosphere.

Developer Awaceb says that they drew inspiration for the game from the likes of the Oddworld Series, Team Ico, and Studio Ghibli, and these influences certainly show through in the game’s whimsical, yet at times dark, hand-drawn setting. Fossil Echo tells the wordless story of a young boy who embarks on an adventure to climb a giant tower in the middle of the sea. It seems like most conflict is resolved peacefully, as he has little means of defending himself. We don’t know for sure why he’s decided to take on this endeavor, but we expect you’ll find out as you play.

At its core, Fossil Echo looks like a difficult platforming adventure with some stealth elements. Awaceb even accommodates for speedrunners, with in-game timers for players interested in taking on a challenge.

Fossil Echo was released earlier this summer. You can find it on Steam, GOG, and the Humble Store for £10.99/14,99€/$14.99.

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  1. UncleLou says:

    Very pretty. I can honestly say I’ve never heard of this. Nor did many other people, judging by the meagre number of Steam reviews.

    • Ashabel says:

      I religiously check the Steam release feed every day and also have never heard of it. A quick check of SteamSpy and SteamCharts indicates that the game was only bought by 500 people and has an all-time player peak of 6, which means Juju by Flying Hog Games has finally lost its dubious status as the worst-selling platformer on Steam.

      Releasing your game within 3 days of the Steam Summer Sale is suicide one way or another.

  2. Ashabel says:

    The art, the gameplay footage and the Steam page mention of it being “challenging” all remind of Teslagrad, which is not a good thing. That game was also pretty, but that prettiness could’ve been spent on another game with level and boss design that wasn’t outright cruel.

    I’ll likely grab this sometime in October, when my backlog is a bit less clogged. Hopefully it plays better than the trailer implies.

    • philcrifo says:

      Hey! (I’m one of the devs) :)

      The game goes for an ‘old school’ die & retry style gameplay, so you should know what you get into.

      It’s fair to compare it to Another World, Heart of Darkness and the first Oddworld games in termes of gameplay and pace. It requires good precision and timing, there are multiple solutions to most levels but the margin for error is thin and finishing a hard section is often very tense.

      It’s definitely a challenging game but according to player feedback, most tend to feel that the difficulty is fair, so dying is never “the game’s fault”.

      Cheers! :)

  3. Gilead says:

    Appears to be the product of a two man team, an artist and a programmer.

    Always suspicious of that kind of thing because you end up with one of the team saying ‘It’s fine, I can do all that game design and writing stuff, I have plenty of ideas’.

    If a writer said ‘it’s fine, I’ll do all the art’ the result would not normally be good, and because it’s visual it would be immediately obvious. When it’s the other way around for some reason people think it’s trivial to assume so much responsibility.

    An artist taking on all game design/writing responsibilities seems like a really bad idea unless they happen to be a multi-skilled genius, and there aren’t many of them around.

    • GameCat says:

      Yeah, most of time when a game story is written by programmer or other non-writer team member it doesn’t promise too much, but I disagree that you need to be a genius.

      • Gilead says:

        I may have exaggerated there, yes. I just think if you’re excellent at one thing it’s unlikely that you’ll also be excellent at another unrelated thing.

        It takes thousands of hours for someone to get really good at something, and for some of that time they’re not good enough to recognise their own shortcomings.

        Too many indie developers (and a disturbing number of AAA publishers) are happy to release products with first-draft/placeholder writing or narrative elements when they wouldn’t dream of releasing a game with placeholder art or sound.

        • Premium User Badge

          FhnuZoag says:

          Writing is good and important and everything, but I think you’re wrong to assume that bringing in more people correlates well to more of a focus being placed on an aspect of the work, much less a better work overall. There’s an aspect where splitting off roles can damage a project because you run into issues of communication and unity of vision, where everyone is doing their own thing without thinking about how it fits together. For a small scale project, it makes a lot of sense to keep the team small.

          There’s a general lack of people in the industry with thousands of hours of games writing experience, anyway. If they did have a dedicated writer, there’s no guarantee it’d be one of those.

        • noodlecake says:

          Spelunky is a great example of a game where the visuals AND programming AND narrative were done by one person and he nailed everything perfectly.

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        Angstsmurf says:

        No, but you would have to be able to come up with a reasonably interesting story and tell it reasonably well, which is a lot harder than you might think. And when you know that the general attitude of the industry and your intended audience is that the writing is the least important part of a game, you won’t spend a lot of time and energy on it. The old comparison to writing in porn movies is apt.

    • MajorLag says:

      Nobody has to be a genius. Hell, you don’t even really need to be all that competent most of the time. Game design is easy if you just do the same thing that’s been done a hundred times before, writing has never been that important to the medium when you get down to it, you can get by with programmer art if it good enough not to confuse or outright disgust the player (then again: Dwarf Fortress), and with the likes of Unity and Game Maker and whatnot being good at programming isn’t really important either.

      Which is not to say that producing a cohesive whole, that’s interesting and engaging enough to play, is easy by any means, just that there’s a certain threshold of “good enough” to any given discipline where it will not detract from the work.

      For example, look at a lot of Matt Thorson’s early work. Or Toby Fox and Undertale (admittedly he had some help with the art).

      And of course we’re all familiar with giant AAA teams made up of real serious professionals who’ve never the less managed to create a steaming pile.

    • philcrifo says:

      Hey! :) I’m the writer, designer & artist on the game.

      I definitely know what you mean that it can be tricky juggling several roles on a project. As far as I am concerned, I am used to making things on my own (I made a lot of short films myself or with tiny teams before) and to handle several aspects of production.

      If I had to choose, I’d say that I put writing & design above everything else, and I did the art basically because I could/had to. I don’t really consider myself a visual artist and I’d be glad to work with more talented artists in the future so I can delegate this part to them. The reality is that a small indie team doesn’t always have the resources to hire many people, so you have to adapt. :)


    • ashellinthepit says:

      Hi there, the core team actually consisted of a programmer & artist, but with an external composer and sound design team (I ran sound design).

      I work on a lot of games and can easily say this is one of the best, most careful and thorough titles I’ve worked on. There are absolutely no corners cut in this game.

  4. int says:

    So you’re a Double Fine Tintin killing ninjas who use shotguns?

  5. je1237321 says:

    Pokemon Go for Android is also available for Free Download from Play Store

  6. Matys says:

    Hmmm, kinda torn. I understand the niche market for the story platformer. A lot of money goes into visuals and music so it makes sense it costs 17$ but I just can’t justify that price for a game that lasts a handful of hours while I’m in school. Added to the wishlist for the future anyways. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Shadrach says:

    The visuals are right up my alley, it looks gorgeous. But I’ve been burned too many times from wonderful-looking art (Meat Boy, Guacamelee, Ori) turning into frustrating gameplay experiences because the devs want to capture that “80s feeling” and cater to the hardcore crowd.

    Gonna have a look at some gameplay videos but if I see insta-kill spikes it’s a no-no for me unfortunately…

    • Viper50BMG says:

      Hi Shadrach!
      There are no spikes and no fall damage (excepting falling off the screen), but there are an array of very keen-eyed enemies who will put you down quite quickly if given the chance. I’d liken it to a slightly more platforming-oriented and challenging Limbo or Inside, but with minimal punishment for failure (no lives, and a quick restart with no more than a few seconds of lost progress).
      (Disclaimer: I’m part of the dev team; I wrote the musical score.)

      • Shadrach says:

        Thanks for the reply, really helpful, and I loved Limbo, while it was a bit too easy… It’s not an easy balance for you devs :)

        On spikes, I generally loathe them, but for instance VVVVVV has tons of spikes but I still loved most of it, mostly because the exploration was more important than tackling constant spike-levels.

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