Today is a special day. The hero of the story is about to participate in a coming-of-age ceremony, one that every young person of the village must undergo on their sixteenth birthday.
The hero sets off into the dark forest surrounding the village, battling the hordes of monsters that lurk there.
Finally, after defeating the last mighty beast, the hero steps into a clearing in the forest. A beautiful crystal floats in midair, and sitting on top of it is Sherlotta.
One thing is for sure, that this game has a long title so I will only write the subtitle from now on. That’s Echoes of Time, an action RPG with puzzle elements. It tries to be more Zelda than Final Fantasy, with a lot of the former, but the magic spells of the latter.
This game is not part of the main Final Fantasy series but forms part of the Crystal Chronicles sub-series. This series was mainly made up of less ambitious games developed for the Nintendo consoles whilst the main series was being expanded on the more powerful PlayStation platform.
So as I was saying, the similarities with the Final Fantasy games are minor. Visually with some of the clothing, aurally with the fantastic music, and well, there are crystals as the main theme of the story. Speaking about story, it’s the strong point of Echoes of Time and reserves some interesting plot twists for any intrepid adventurer.
The other strong point of the game is the various boss fights. They are big, they are mean, but all of them have a weak point. However, you need to set up a proper full party in order to take on these beasts. Inside Echoes of Time, you start by creating your main character and then you can add up to another three allies. The idea works well in a way, leaving you the choice to switch between characters and set the AI behaviour for the other characters during battle.
The puzzles involve mainly interaction with some mechanism in order to gain entry to the next room in each dungeon, rinse and repeat until the boss room. You have to use your brain in this game, as just relying on your controller dexterity will not cut it. The main problem, however, is not the puzzle difficulty, but the fixed camera. The game is rendered in pseudo 3D, which is mostly a forced-isometric view and the majority of the time I always misjudged the position of the objects around.
All in all, the game is still an enjoyable experience. It’s not too long either, but there’s no repetition of the same puzzles which is a good thing. The developers could have easily made the game longer by recycling the same stuff repeatedly. There are some problems, but they don’t really stop you from making progress in the game in little chunks at a time. There is also the possibility for other nearby players to connect and control one of the four characters, which I have not personally tried. In this case, it would also make Echoes of Time a good candidate for co-op gaming.