September 20, 2007 // 8:33 pm
- One of the more unique games that we got to play for the first time at this year's Tokyo Game Show was Echochrome, the PSN puzzler that uses optical illusions as its gameplay foundation. Making use of really simple visuals -- black outlines on a white background, or vice versa -- the game has you rotating the environment in order to see your character progress through various optical challenges. See a gap between two ledges? Rotate the screen so that a column obstructs your view -- now that gap is gone.
The first thing the game teaches you are its five basic laws.
1. Subjective Translation: Changing your perspective can connect paths.
2. Subjective Landing: If an object looks to be below you, your character can land on it.
3. Subjective Existence: If you can't see a gap because it's obstructed, a path exists.
4. Subjective Absence: If you obstruct a hole from your vision, it no longer exists.
5. Subjective Jump: By rotating your perspective you can jump to new areas.
Using these laws, you're then tasked with making it through an example stage that presents a challenge for each one. You control a white faceless dummy that's supposed to follow a black one. The dummies walk on their own -- your only interaction with them is by manipulating the environment.
See the pillar right in front of the white dummy? That's actually obstructing the view of a gap in that ledge; with it there, the white dummy can now reach the black one. Ah, but you see the hole in the ledge up ahead of the black dummy? Unless you do something, your dummy will fall through it. So you need to rotate the environment clockwise so that the pillar will obstruct your vision of the hole, thus following the rule of Subjective Absence. Alternatively, though, see how -- in this perspective, at least -- the ledge on the bottom of the screen appears directly below the two holes above? You could fall through the hole and make it to the ledge below -- as long as you wouldn't rotate the environment enough to show that the ledge is, in fact, not below it in a 3D space.
And that's how Echochrome works. It involves a great amount of thinking and experimenting, as there are potentially several ways to solve the challenges. Although the TGS demo was basically just an intro to the game's concepts, we're already incredibly excited about it thanks to the taste we were given. The M.C. Escher style optical illusions provide a perfect canvas for puzzle gameplay, and Echochrome challenged us in ways videogames rarely do. It's definitely one we're looking forward to seeing a lot more of in the future.