There has been a revival of survival horror in the last couple of years, but very few games have mimicked the original controls and camera control (tank controls & fixed camera angles). MoonGlint with their game Echoes of the Living aims to change that, so let’s see how they managed so far in their demo.
Story-wise you are not presented with much. I picked the girl (Laurel) to play as, and the game starts with you laying prone on the sidewalk unarmed. And much like Resident Evil 2 & 3, you will have to run a gauntlet and dodge zombies, because the streets are absolutely littered with walking corpses that want to snack on your flesh. What strikes me at first is how much the game looks (in the case of the atmosphere) like the city parts of RE 2 & 3. The difference is much higher fidelity of course, and I have a feeling this is what an HD remake of those older survival horror games would look like.
However, this will be a common theme throughout the demo. Echoes of the Living seems to be its own game, with its own protagonists and story, as in outbreak (you find notes that explain some stuff), but it’s very similar to the classics in more than gameplay. One warehouse area even has the same layout as the one you stumbled upon early in Resident Evil 3.
While I appreciate the sentiment, and I did enjoy my time in the game until I got turned into zombie chow, I’m starting to think that many indie developers get a little too close to what inspires them. Which at least for me conveys a feeling of “been there, done that”. Sadly enough, it’s usually a worse experience than the original, which always gets me questioning myself as to why not just play that instead. And going by demo Echoes of the Living is no exception. Now, I’m not saying it’s all bad – like I said, I enjoyed my time with it, but I can’t deny the fact that this is nothing new under the sun, at least not completely, and I guess, it’s what you expected if you go by mechanics and gameplay. However, it’s more of a feeling and atmosphere, and setting. If you have played the original RE-games and played the demo of this game you will probably come to understand what I mean.
Echoes of the Living does what it sets out to do, though, it has fixed camera angles (for the most part), tank controls, limited inventory and some light puzzles to be solved. It works, except that the camera angles are not exactly smooth always, and it got me a bit disorientated when they changed while crossing a room or a street. The shooting part feels a lot like the older games, but it does not seem to have an aim lock on, which makes blind fire very risky since ammo is rare. To my disappointment corpses disappear, and I probably wouldn’t mind it too much if it didn’t happen right in front of my eyes. Pretty damn immersion shattering with temporal dimension-hopping dead bodies. The English used in the notes feels a little bit shaky, but that can be excused, and will probably be improved upon release.
Some good stuff is the visuals, sound, and music – it even got a nice safe room tune that had a calming effect on me. The city areas have an oppressive atmosphere typical of a heavy zombie infestation through sound and music. Lots of distant moaning and general unpleasantness that increase the melancholy of slowly trudging through a dead city. I didn’t remember hearing much music, beyond unnerving deep droning, but I think that it worked well considering how apocalyptic the setting feels. The graphics are crisp, and as mentioned it looks like an HD take on the RE-series. The only thing that I thought looked a bit off is the close-up of the main characters in the menus, but during gameplay, they look good, likewise for the animations. Overall, even if it feels like something that has been done before, it got potential, and I’m probably going to buy the game when it comes out. It doesn’t matter how you cut it, it will be a nice romp through something recognizable, even if I have my criticism, as I have laid out.
Thanks for reading.