Galactic Echoes, a puzzle game set in the depths of space, developed by Ikoniac. Ikoniac, based in Turku (Finland), create challenging puzzle games with deep stories. With a crew of 4 people they have created Galactic Echoes. A challenging puzzle game, where you play as a cryptoanalyst embarking on an epic journey to save mankind. The story can be unlocked by completing the puzzles and progressing through the game, the puzzles get harder as you progress (which is expected) and your reward is satisfaction and the journey.
First of all, the main menu gives an outer-space feel, with the background being what appears to be galaxies and the surface of planets. The background is slightly animated, with the moving objects, but it isn’t so clear that it distracts you or is in your face. The logo is clear at the top of the page, but all of the colours compliment each other so none of it is too ‘in your face’. The buttons to start the new game are clear compared to the background, the buttons are blue with white writing throughout and remind me of a futuristic feel. Before the main menu you are given a brief idea of the story, even though there is no clear plot introduced yet. All you know is that it is the year 2180 and mankind has started to journey across the solar system, you are heading towards Saturn’s moon Titan.
What I liked about the game was that before each stage you get some stats, the first one is about Titan, giving stats on the atmosphere and temperature. This is a good feature as it gives a more realistic feel to a far-fetched game, making it feel like you are about to venture onto this moon. When you start the first level, you are given instructions on the controls and it guides you across the paths to the objective, this was simple enough. Now the second mission was consuming, the game has left you with only the controls and you see a new level layout with colours and no direction on how it all works. So the best approach is just to go with which ever direction you want, after your first couple of moves you get the idea of what to do and you complete the level. However, I do believe that a hint or guide could have been useful or maybe just have the first level with the colour beams so the second level is less confusing. When you complete a level you are awarded with either 1,2 or 3 stars, to get all 3 stars you have to complete the level with the minimal amount of moves as possible.
The story is revealed throughout this 3 star system, if you get 3 stars on the levels within the stage you unlock the full story for the level. The story Is told through the perspective of your character, you are writing diary entries during this time. For me, a person who enjoys reading, I did find these diary entries too long. I understand that they are supposed to give as much information as possible but I felt like they were too long winded. I would get about halfway through the entries and lose interest and just skim throughout the text, even on the second diary entry with its talk of other life, didn’t compel me, which is a shame because I feel the story could be really good and interesting if it wasn’t done in this way. However, there should be an option for a voice over for the text which would be good, and also could be more immersive, or for the text to be shorter.
The game does have lots of features, you can sometimes move the tiles you are on which create a creative aspect of the game and provides a more challenging approach to the puzzles. The most interesting feature is the multiple charges that move at the same time, it is an extremely challenging concept of the game due to the fact it requires a more logical approach on how you have to complete the level. Unfortunately, I found the first level with the multiple moving charges too difficult, it was extremely challenging and for just being an introduction level to this feature, I would have expected either a guide on how to do it or a good idea if when a charge reaches its destination, it would stay there rather than being allowed to move back out. So I did find this part a let down to the game but it does make it more challenging, and frustrating.
Background music in this game does play a key part, it gives the feel of a retro game that has cheesy futuristic music. Which is great! The music really does make you feel like you are not on Earth, and with all the sound effects when you press everything it does give a strange feel to the game. It definitely does give the retro feel and I enjoy this, it does make it unique to have something like this in such a modern game. It is also calming and relaxing which is good while you’re concentrating on finishing a puzzle.
Overall, the game is good and the concept is new for puzzle games, solving the puzzles to help you unlock the story. However, I do feel the game lacks in hints and guides but if you are up for the challenge then it is defiantly there for you to give it a go. I feel the story as I said previously, could have been portrayed in a different way rather than having the long text even though the feature of using the 3 star system allowing you to unlock more parts of the story is great and other puzzle games should use this as it makes you want to get those 3 stars if you are reading the story. The music for the game is great and does provide a futuristic theme that I’m looking for in the game. Galactic Echoes is available on Android in some countries for soft release, I was lucky enough to play the Windows build of the game, which as far as I am aware is not available for the public yet.