| echochrome

Up is down and down is up in the world of echochrome. Nothing is what it seems and reality is all in what your eyes can perceive. The various optical illusions twisted into puzzles not only exude innovation but also the sort of intellectual gameplay that few games ever aim for, let alone achieve. While its universal appeal is questionable, there's no denying that echochrome is one of the PSP's finest puzzlers.

Echochrome brings interactivity to Escher-inspired illustrations. Your goal is to guide a marionette through each line-drawn puzzle by shifting the perspective. While you don't have direct control over the marionette, you do have the ability to manipulate the camera to create optical illusions that serve as paths through each puzzle. In short, moving the analogue stick about enables you to get your guy through the assembled stages via optical tricks.

Five laws govern the puzzles of echochrome, establishing a stable of optical illusions from which you can pull to solve each stage. First is Perspective Traveling. By adjusting the camera, you can connect two disparate paths. As long as it appears that the paths are joined, the game treats it as such. The same rule applies to Perspective Landing. Whenever your marionette falls, he'll land on whatever appears to below. Moving the camera to visually place a path underneath his descent is the same as if there actually was a path beneath him.

The third law, Perspective Existence, deals with making gaps disappear. By positioning the camera in such as way that a gap is blocked visually, the game treats it as though it doesn't exist. In other words, the gap isn't there and the path continues unabated. Similarly, Perspective Absence involves shifting the puzzle to make holes in the path disappear. The final law, perspective Jump, mirrors perspective landing. Whenever the marionette walks onto a jump pad, you can move the camera so that he jumps onto another path.

Using these five tricks, you solve puzzles. At first, they come in easy varieties that focus on one or perhaps two blatant solutions. Further into the game, however, the puzzles become increasingly difficult, with multiple obstacles, paths, and potential solutions. Echochrome achieves much of its challenge in the freedom it allows in solving its puzzles. While using Perspective Existence to cover up a gap in a path may serve as the obvious solution to a puzzle, you might be able to complete the same stage using a Perspective Jump. Choosing how to solve the puzzles is often as challenging as the puzzles themselves.

Different from the time-sensitive action of Tetris and plodding puzzle-solving of Picross, echochrome is distinctly cerebral. Time hardly plays a role in the game, which serves to extract any sense of completion anxiety. You're never under a time limit, although a completion time for each stage encourages you to improve your performance a second time around. A bit of patience is necessary to play echochrome, which will turn away those not interested in its intellectual puzzle-solving; but, its sophisticated design and simple presentation offer a fresh, innovative approach.

For a download-only title, echochrome packs in quite an impressive amount of content. A total of 56 puzzles come included with the base game, accessible individually via the game's atelier. And, you can always just jump right into play via free-form mode, which randomly selects a series of puzzles for you to complete.

New puzzles are available periodically from the PlayStation Store, which are stored in your portfolio in the atelier. Additionally, unique puzzles can be crafted using the Canvas mode and then saved to your portfolio. Building a puzzle requires patience and planning, though. The tricky optical illusions that characterise the game's puzzles are quite difficult to manufacture on your own. Thankfully the interface is as sleek and intuitive as the presentation. You ought to have no trouble at all navigating the canvas, even if coming up with a clever puzzle is a bit more challenging.

From our perspective, echochrome is easily the best downloadable game currently available for PSP. A brilliant core design joined by equally basic, stylish presentation make for a phenomenal game. On top of that, the puzzle editor adds immense value, ensuring that there's still plenty to play after you've exhausted the 50-plus pack-in puzzles. Without a doubt, a must-have.


There isn't any colour in its line-drawn puzzles, but that doesn't stop echochrome from being brilliant. Plenty of cerebral, challenging puzzles combined with a stylish presentation and full editor make it the best downloadable PSP game yet