Before the Echo: If DDR was an RPG

You like to think that you’re hand-eye coordinated, but wait until you take this game out for a spin.

The game formerly known as Sequence

Join Ky on his ascent of a mysterious Tower, guided onward by a mysterious girl named Naia. Encounter deadly monsters and ridiculous characters, and discover the grand scheme behind Ky’s mysterious imprisonment…

Plot

Without giving too much away, Before the Echo had a quirky storyline with even quirkier characters. As the protagonist, Ky, you’re being led by a voice over the intercom who insists that you’ve no choice but to climb a tower filled with monsters. The problem is that Ky has absolutely no recollection of how he wound up in such a dangerous place. You’ll only get answers by believing in your disembodied benefactor.

Aesthetics

What the game lacks in strong voice acting is more than made up for in the striking visuals and beautiful backgrounds. Then again, some players might enjoy the over-the-top delivery of dialogue. Personally, I found it to have a certain charm.

The OST is where Before the Echo truly shines, though. Many of the game tracks were produced by Ronald Jenkees of the Youtube scene. One of my favorite tracks of his was “Throwing Fire” which certainly evokes a sense of nostalgia for those who began with Dance Dance Revolution.

Gameplay

Battles

Battles involve juggling between three different fields. The green one will be the one you utilize the most as it is where you conjure spells. In order to cast a spell, you first select it with number keys 1–6, which then sets a pre-determined pattern of arrows down the green field. Hitting all of them successfully activates the spell.

The red field is how the enemy harms you. Anytime you see arrows appearing on that field, you better hit those arrows or else you’ll take damage. Different colored arrows have different damage values associated with them, so while you can endure a few white arrows, you should watch out for red ones.

The blue field is your mana regen. As spells require mana to cast, you’ll be flipping to the blue field to bump up your pool.

Did we mention that battles are timed? You have until the end of the song to knock a foe down to zero health points, otherwise you fail, even if you still have some life left in you.

As a result, battles require players to think on their toes while switching between offense and defense.

Item Management

On every floor of the tower, Ky finds new item recipes. In order to forge these items — which range from equipment to a boss key — you have to sacrifice a set amount of experience. The more you sacrifice, the higher your chances of synthesizing the item.

This naturally prolongs the game and works as a slight deterrent to grinding. It can be a rather tedious process, though, especially when it comes to learning new spells. In order to master a new spell, you have to either clear a certain percentage of notes for an entire song (some of which reach four minutes in length), or hit a set number of notes without missing any.

Conclusion

Before the Echo was an indie sleeper-hit that definitely delivered on terms of solid gameplay. The plot, though somewhat predictable, added to the title more so than detracting from its overall value. If you have five bucks to spare on either Steam or your Xbox Live Arcade account, Before the Echo is a worthwhile purchase.

Am I a cool kid yet?

Ren is a freelance writer and indie game dev, as well as a software engineer based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Check out his content on Twitch, Youtube, and Twitter.

We’re making our first game.

I dabble in the humanities and technology. Documenting my experience with mental health is my way of giving back to the world.