Be your own worst enemy in Echo on September 19th

Echo [official site], a new sneak-o-shooter from a small team formed mostly of folks who worked at Hitman studio IO Interactive, now has a release date of September 19th. It’s a third-person action game set inside an alien palace with a twist: its weird world is guarded by copies of you, which copy your playstyle and try to counter you. It is a pretty palace too, as this new trailer shows:

The story is that we play En, someone who went into stasis for the long journey to this unlikely palace. Developers Ultra Ultra say En “hopes to bring back a life that should not have been lost” but the point is: you get to murder yourself a lot. Ultra Ultra explain how it all works:

“A character-driven story of introspection and discovery, ECHO quickly develops into something much more unsettling. Stepping into the shoes of En, it becomes clear that The Palace itself studies everything you are, everything that you do; in order to use it against you.

“The Palace creates ‘Echoes’, with the sole purpose of destroying you. The game will shift and change as you do, constantly evolving its Echoes based your actions – If you sneak, they will get stealthier. If you shoot, they will start to shoot back.

“Your only respite lies in the sanctuary of a Blackout. As The Palace shuts down in order to update its deadly copies of En, you have a small window of opportunity to act without consequence. But beware, when The Palace comes back online, your pursuers will now be even more relentless.”

That sounds fun, that. I liked how soldiers in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain would react to my playstyle, doling out armour, flashlights, mines, and so on to foil my sneaking. When so many stealth games come down to figuring out a way which works then repeating that, it’s good to get uncomfortable every now and then. I do also like the idea of a blackout period where I can do whatever I please.

September 19th isn’t long to wait.

16 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    DelrueOfDetroit says:

    Well that’s a clever way of lowering your character model budget.

    • TΛPETRVE says:

      Was just gonna say. That’s one way to get away with a single character model.

      • April March says:

        I was gonna make that joke as well.

        Though I must say – it does look genuinely upsetting.

    • trollomat says:

      Also a clever name for the main character.

  2. Erinduck says:

    I had an idea similar to this a good long while ago but as a beginner solo dev I wasn’t able to overcome the technical hurdles of more advanced AI so I had to shelve it. Seeing a similar idea coming from IO Interactive of all people is rad as hell, seeing as the latest Hitman became my favourite in the entire series.

    • TechnicalBen says:

      If it is any condolence I seriously doubt they have, or anyone can, get over the obstacle that is advanced/hard AI.

      So they probably just use cheap tricks as all “AI” systems do (yes, all of them!).

      • Erinduck says:

        Oh, all gamedev is just smoke and mirrors, I’m well aware of that. It’s just that even rudimentary AI was well beyond the skill level I had at the time. Beginner overestimation of skill and all that.

  3. kaer says:

    The protagonist is going to need a lot of psychological help after going through this. Probably won’t be able to have mirrors in the house anymore.

  4. Nibblet says:

    The advanced ai that is supposedly mimicing your playstyle appear to be walking around in standard patrol patterns, so i am not sure how lifelike they will actually be.
    Also, wallhacking as a feature is always a bad sign.

  5. maninahat says:

    It is a shame that games don’t properly insert stealthy enemies. At best, they have a type of enemy that goes invisible, tries to flank you, and then charges at you whilst making a tremendous racket. I imagine it would be difficult to institute, but an enemy who knows how to shut the hell up, keep out of your line of sight, and follow you at a safe distance until it has you in a decent ambush spot would make for a really unnerving experience.

    • Zenicetus says:

      I think the reason we don’t see this in games is because the proper conclusion wouldn’t be allowed: a stealth kill on the player. You wouldn’t see it coming, so it wouldn’t be “fair,” like walking into a room and being head-shot killed by a hidden sniper.

      Of course we’re allowed to kill or choke-stun NPC’s this way because it’s fun. It’s not fun when you’re on the receiving end. So games generally avoid too many hidden trap-style dangers the player can’t see, predict, and avoid.

    • Massenstein says:

      Aw yeah I would love to see this. Only thing remotely like this that comes to mind are those black ops soldiers in first Half-Life. They would run around a corner and then jump somewhere before I reached them. Back then that seemed super impressive enemy behavior.

      And in MGS Snake Eater you had The End boss fight – he would lie hiding somewhere and only engage you from afar. If you found him, he threw a flashbang and attempted to run away.

      Why haven’t we seen more sneaky-stealthy enemies indeed? It could add so much to various styles of games, from action to horror. Something similar to Assassin’s Greed’s multiplayer mode’s mechanics could also be made into AI enemy.

  6. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    Seems interesting I guess. But I’ve got serious doubts about its ability to ‘copy’ a playstyle. Especially given that my playstyle in these things is almost always “whatever looks easiest”.

    • April March says:

      I think likewise, but would love to be proven wrong. Most likely they’re just gung-ho and well armed if you charge in shooting and more attentive if you sneak.

  7. Ben King says:

    This reminds me of how little fun I was having with MGS5 because I just went puttering along with the basic kit of a silenced AK and tranq gun for the LONGEST TIME simply because I hated seeing the monetary value of extra grenades, mines and gizmos eating away at my reward. Took a lot to undo that thought line, and I’m not sure I would be able to trick myself into having fun with this one. I might end up stealthing horribly the whole way and just be bitter. Regardless, it looks really nice and the enemy unlocking concept seems like it could be a lot of fun/pain.

  8. Premium User Badge

    MajorLag says:

    “you get to murder yourself a lot.”

    Sounds therapeutic.