Lone Echo 2: the review of the virtual reality adventure in zero gravity signed Ready at Dawn



Four years after the original, Ready at Dawn launches Lone Echo 2, the new sci-fi adventure for virtual reality. Here’s our review.

The first Lone Echo, released in the now distant summer of 2017, marked Ready at Dawn’s debut in the virtual reality market after the developer had made a name for itself, willy-nilly, with The Order: 1886, the controversial PlayStation 4 exclusive. In the case of the VR game, however, critics and audiences have found themselves united in judging the title very positively: a sci-fi adventure full of puzzles and exploration, tackled through a first-person view with a mobility made famous by the movements in zero gravity. So famous that the software house built around this type of movement a sort of spin-off exclusively multiplayer: Echo Combat.

Now, 4 years later, Ready at Dawn is finally ready to release on the market an official sequel to its solo adventure: Lone Echo 2, a successor that is configured in all respects as a more of the same familiar and reassuring; perfect for those who have completed the original title at the time, but that could also be attractive to those who have only recently entered the VR market and want to focus on what’s new before recovering the best games of the past.

We will try to explain in the review of Lone Echo 2 what are the strengths and weaknesses of this new chapter that, we remind you, at the moment is only available on PC and only for all owners of a viewer weblog Oculus, being an exclusive produced by Oculus Studios Ready at Dawn which is now part of more than a year.

The story of Lone Echo 2

In Lone Echo 2 there are some flashbacks in which we'll be accompanied by other robots

As we said at the beginning of the review, Lone Echo 2 is a direct sequel to the original title: the adventure starts exactly where we left off in the first chapter, with the robot Jack and the astronaut Liv catapulted 400 years into the future due to a space anomaly, and now busy finding a way to return home, before discovering that the biomass that had haunted them centuries before, has taken over in the solar system, has evolved and is now a threat even worse than in the past.

Through a couple of narrative tricks, the developer has tried to meet those who approach the series for the first time with this episode, offering both a sort of summary of events directly integrated into the narrative, and a particularly clever and well thought-out tutorial that allows the novice player to discover all the functions of Jack, the robot impersonated, but that can be easily circumvented in case the memories are still nice and fresh, having perhaps recently faced the first Lone Echo.

In any case, the events are narrated in a manner extremely similar to what we saw in the original chapter: the backbone of the narrative is composed of long dialogues between our alter ego Jack and the astronaut to whom we are strongly linked Liv. In the course of the adventure we will also interface with other characters, in particular another human survivor and a series of artificial intelligence, but the juice does not change: Lone Echo 2, at various junctures, is more of an interactive visual novel that an action adventure since there will be long sequences in which we will have to limit ourselves to listen for minutes and minutes the stories of our fellow travelers, or we will sorbirci logorrheic explanations regarding the elements of the scenario with which we must interact.

In the title of Ready at Dawn in fact, the analysis of the environment and sometimes the interaction with the points of interest is subject to a dialogue with some co-protagonist that will be heard before you can actually act, generating “interruptions” to the normal flow of exploration. To be clear, in some occasions it will not be possible to open a door or explore a certain room if we haven’t spoken with the appropriate person, generating limiting situations, since the point of interaction will unlock only after completing that dialogue. Often forcing us to remain stunned for a long time waiting for the chat to end.

In addition to the main plot, undoubtedly fascinating and emotionally charged in some passages, Lone Echo 2 offers a handful of side activities that we could almost consider quests: basic exploratory activities and some very basic environmental puzzles. Consider that in our review session it took us a little over 12 hours to complete the story by devoting several hours to these ancillary stages.

But what kind of game is Lone Echo 2?

The selection of the gadget to be

It may still not be perfectly clear so we will try, in this paragraph, to go into detail about the gameplay of Lone Echo 2. The game Ready at Dawn is configured as an adventure exploration exclusively single player and first-person view, full of puzzle elements and with some sporadic sequence slightly more action. The title also can only be experienced in virtual reality. We played it with a visor Oculus Quest 2 connected via Air Link to the PC, then wirelessly, but can be approached with any helmet produced by the company of Meta, formerly Facebook, being an exclusive produced by Oculus Studio.

The peculiarity of this product, which is then the element that made the original chapter famous and that we find here further enhanced, is the movement in zero gravity on which is based all the interaction with the game world. In the shoes of Jack we will have to constantly and literally cling to the surfaces, in order to move using an incredibly realistic physics that is based on the absence of a force of attraction and then the interaction between bodies with different weights and resistances.

Most of the displays and computers only serve to make Lone Echo 2's environments more believable

Open a drawer or a hatch, as well as throw an object or use certain gadgets that provide a recoil, will always be properly studied and evaluated taking into account the absence of friction and this will force us to properly manage the various support surfaces. In fact we will have available from the beginning 2 small jetpack wrist that will allow us to make small corrections of up and move very slowly in the environments, without having to continually rely on the scenario, while later in the game our robot will also be equipped with more powerful thrusters that can make us move with greater speed and also slow us down to a complete stop.

The gameplay, however, is not resolved around a loop made of movements, explorations and very long dialogues, but the focus of Lone Echo 2, just like its predecessor, is the resolution of a whole series of elementary environmental puzzles, but still very satisfying thanks to the immersion in the VR environment and the great precision with which we will use the controllers, or our virtual hands. Jack will immediately have a plasma blowtorch to open emergency ducts and electrical panels, but soon we can equip scanners to analyze objects and drones, pulse beams to move small debris and objects from a distance, but also more advanced tools with which to harness and inhibit energy sources and biomass that returns in this sequel as the only threat to our free movement in the scenario.

A puzzle that involves interaction with a special type of biomass: the spider web

In Lone Echo 2 we’ll have to deal with a single enemy: a substance that feeds on any source of artificial and organic energy and that will lead to our death in case of prolonged contact. Compared to the original title, the biomass now presents more threatening forms due to the evolution that took place in the 400 years that divide the 2 episodes: it will not only cover the walls but will also be present in the form of tentacular spheres, the Tick, able to move in the environment and attach to a neighboring energy source. Later we will meet other mutations of biomass that will force us to properly manage the new gadgets or interact in a new way with the environment but, basically, the enemy always involves a single loop of gameplay: you analyze the environment and look for the point of interaction essential to the resolution of the puzzle in order to move forward, being careful not to touch or not to get too close to biomass.

There’s never a real sense of progression in this challenge, nor are there any enemies capable of dealing with us intelligently or forcing us to escape or to a more frenetic action: Lone Echo 2 is a thoughtful and ingenious adventure that presents a variety of puzzles quite small and tend to be repetitive. Despite the fact that in some places the game conveys a sense of unease or a great sense of loneliness during the walks in the vastness of space, there are no phases where aim and speed of execution count, except for a couple of very brief passages near the epilogue.

Graphically impeccable

The vastness of the scenarios in Lone Echo 2 is phantasmagorical

From a purely technical point of view, Lone Echo 2 is simply amazing, especially when compared to other experiences that you can live in VR. Probably along with Half-Life Alyx is the best that virtual reality can offer today, especially if you take into account the quality of the characters recreated on screen, their animations and the vastness of the scenarios.

The phases in which you find yourself moving freely between the various structures that make up Saturn’s orbital station will leave you breathless in terms of credibility and sense of identification. Floating through the dust that makes up the rings of the planet floating in a vacuum in a pure inertia that would make us continue virtually indefinitely, is an experience that definitely deserves to be tried.

All this is then adequately supported by an excellent audio sector with very little background music and an excellent acoustic rendering of voices and sounds that are spread taking into account the shape of the scenario while taking due artistic freedom as a function of a greater degree of identification. Beware though: Lone Echo 2 is exclusively in English, including subtitles, and this could be a great limitation if you do not chew the language of Albion considered the enormous focus of the game on the narrative.

Liv precedes us during an exploratory phase full of dialogues

There are, however, several problems in the management of streaming textures that are particularly noticeable in the most airy sequences and, sometimes, even within small scenarios with annoying phenomena of mismanagement of the level of detail: it will happen very often to see very low resolution textures on many elements of the scenario that, suddenly, change quality regardless of our distance. There is also a lot of aliasing and while moving in open space you may also run into very fast loading probably related to the need to place in memory some sections to try to keep at bay, not always adequately, the pop up of the elements on the screen.

Lone Echo 2 doesn’t require a lot of space around it to be played and can also be played in the stationary mode, while seated. In the latter case, however, it is preferable to have a swivel chair, since the 360-degree movement is an integral part of the gaming experience.

PC System Requirements

Test Configuration

  • Processor: AMD Ryzen 5800X
  • Video card: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080
  • RAM: 32 GB
  • Operating System: Windows 11

Minimum Requirements

  • Processor: Intel i7-6000 or equivalent
  • Video card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 or equivalent
  • RAM: 16 GB
  • Disk space: 21 GB
  • Operating System: Windows 10
  • Oculus/Meta viewer required

Comment

Ready at Dawn wanted to stay within its comfort zone with Lone Echo 2: in terms of innovations and introductions this game can be considered more an expansion of the first title that a real sequel. Those who loved the original game will be able to play it safe by buying the new episode, but those who will approach the franchise for the first time with the successor will have to take into account the pace of its narrative, at times too long-winded, and a certain lack of progression in the challenge proposed to the player. Once you have accepted this necessary warning and taken into account the absence of Italian among the languages supported, you will find yourself in front of an adventure involving and technically splendid.

PRO

  • Technically one of the best experiences playable in VR
  • The sense of immersion in space is truly incredible
  • Physics management is simply perfect
  • Too often we are left motionless to listen to very long dialogues
  • Lacking a real enemy, there is no sense of progression
  • Obvious problems with texture level of detail management
  • Have you noticed any errors?
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