It's Mental Health Awareness Week here in the UK, so I thought I'd tell you about Echoes [official site] - a newly announced episodic exploration puzzle game that explores themes of psychology, mental health and the relationship between the two. I'm a sucker for games that strive to generate wider and nuanced conversation around sensitive issues. Echoes appears to be one such game AND it looks really pretty into the bargain. See:
Not too much to go on just yet, however episode one is named Diagnosis and will study the beginnings of the protagonist. The world you see up there apparently depicts sections of the character's dreams, which is where the opening chapter introduces "mind break" - a unique mechanic that helps players overcome "challenging and alien" parts of said dreams.
Here's the official word from Echoes developers Thermo-Dynamic Games:
"Echoes is an episodic game which explores psychology and mental health, it ties exploration gameplay with puzzles and features two distinctive visual styles based on the core narrative themes.
"The Narrative follows a patient’s journey through counselling and overcoming their mental issues. The story, unique blend of visuals and challenging gameplay will come together to create an unforgettable experience."
I think this sounds really interesting and although not particularly keen on the episodic release model myself, the process of seeking help regarding mental health issues does tend to be one done in stages. Without sounding overly profound, this could in turn work well here, as the player attempts to uncover the protagonist's story while exploring the key themes at the same time.
In any event, its creators promise more news next month, a full release of episode one later this year, and early access "soon" via Itch's recently revealed Refinery programme.
More information on Echoes can be found this-a-way.