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Freeware Garden: Echoes +

Asteroids Arena

I am certain I have run into quite a few commercial arena shooters that couldn't hold a candle to Echoes +. It might work as a replacement for Waves, which is an absolutely excellent game, but one that I've been playing for far too long. A new, tense, addictive, glowy shmup was something I needed.

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What's more, Echoes + does come complete with its own twist to the twin-stick arena shooter formula; it ads a bit of Asteroids to the proceedings in order to create a relatively fresh take on the genre. It's a successful addition, throwing in exploding asteroids that break into smaller asteroids when shot.

One of the game's six well thought out modes - each plays radically different to the other - is essentially an Asteroids clone/remake thingy. It's nothing spectacular, mind you, but it's that extra little something that one doesn't expect to find in a smaller game, and does help to show off the attention and care poured into it.

Then again, this emphatically shows in the way Echoes + plays. It is polished, frantic and smart and knows how to make taking in-game risks seem like a great idea while offering a truly unobtrusive interface. The more enemies you kill, the more multipliers will drop in a simple, effective risk/reward mechanic.

Add in a selection of difficulty settings and controller options, global leaderboards, pleasing neon graphics, a selection of power-ups, varied enemies and you've got an accomplished shmup that's a joy to play and a challenge to master. You might find it hard to tear yourself away.

Provided, that is, you do the sensible thing, grab Echoes + either via Steam or the dev's site and play it with a joypad. You'll be happy to know that you can also choose to play to the music of your choice.

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