'Echochrome' Hands-On -- Use The D-Pad, Grab The Aspirin

echochromeWe're capturing footage of the first several levels of "Echochrome," a game that has to be seen to really be understood. How many times can I try to tell people there's a game that crosses "Lemmings" with MC Escher before people stop looking at me funny?

Tilt the levels to make gaps disappear and a little mannequin guy can walk his way through a few ghosts and complete the level.


But here are some things for you to know about this game, things I learned from a hands-on with what seems to be a complete version of this May PS3 downloadable game.

echochromeComplex simplicity -- Three-dimensional game levels haven't looked this simple since I fired a Farsight in the first "Perfect Dark." Translation for you youngsters out there: activating the Farsight in that first-person shooter let you see through walls, but in the process, stripped almost all of the graphics from any of the game's levels. A complex military base suddenly appeared as a series of simply-drawn corridors hovering in empty space. That's how simple the pathways of "Echochrome" look. They might as well be walking along capital letters. The levels are just beams, staircases and, uh, more beams. But all tangled up. I looked at the harder sections in the completely unlocked version of the game Sony sent me: well, the second to last level has 28 staircases at least five pits, and dozens of beams connecting that stuff. Good luck to me!

D-Pad Rules -- There was a time when I thought "Echochrome" was going to be the definitive game for the Sixaxis controller. The gameplay only involved tilting and rotating the playing field to make the lead character traverse the optical illusion levels. How could it not use motion control? Then I learned last year that it doesn't. So I figured "Echochrome" would control well with the PS3 controller's analog sticks, and that's what I and two colleagues at the MTV offices first tried. But two of us (myself included) now believe the d-pad offers the greatest amount of control. Just tap-tap-tap the level into a new camera view, aligning beams so that they mesh as one, obscuring deadly pits and so forth. The d-pad enables more precise control, enabling you to move the level (or camera angle, depending on your perspective) bit by bit. It's the way to go.

Plan For A Headache -- What kind of madman plays PS3 games on a standard definition TV? I do. And the fine line-work of "Echochrome" may well be like the fine text of "Dead Rising" -- in other words, pretty fuzzy on standard TVs like mine. Staring at this game on my set may not be healthy. Hopefully that will be smoothed out in time for the game's release. And HD TV owners need not worry: also potentially head-ache inducing are the game's later levels. They are hard. That's the point, no? And who knows what monstrosities people will create in the user-generated part. I assume those levels will be swappable online, since the game prompted me to download extra levels when I booted it up.

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