Pale Echoes is an RPG that was created using RPG Maker VX Ace. The game uses a top down 2D pixel art style that has a similar feel to some of the games in the Final Fantasy series.
The game is about a character called Schori, who is the last human after an unknown disaster. She is with her friend Spinel, who is a magical and mysterious being known as a Saeri. Spinel is also the last person from her race. The world is baron and deserted, and Spinel is trying to restore it. There are beings known as Echoes that roam the land, which are tortured memories. There is only one way in which to take on these Echoes- other memories.
I was instantly drawn to the game. It reminded me of JRPGs that I used to play when I was younger. This game is an RPG, but its much more simplified and streamlined, which I enjoyed. The battles take place much like games like Final Fantasy 7, where you use a turn based battle system. The combat is all about planning and preparation. Each battle felt like a puzzle that needed to be solved in order to defeat your enemy. The combat felt very unique. You only get a limited amount of attacks against your enemies. For every three memories, you get one turn. You can also use abilities like weapons and geomancy to attack the Echoes. The weapons have direct damage, whereas geomancy allows you to increase combat effectiveness, or use it for healing. You have to be careful and plan attacks to use your abilities in the most effective way.
There are various ways in which to attack the Echoes. Fixed, Multi and Group attacks can be used to inflict damage. Fixed means you focus full damage onto one Echo. Group allows you to deal half damage to all of the Echoes and Multi deals 3 half damage strikes randomly. As you progress through the game, you will gain more attacks and abilities. In between battles, you will travel around various areas. Every new area you visit is actually 2 areas. ‘The End’ created an alternative world, which is a parallel universe. These worlds are connected via portals. During your quest you will slowly learn more about what happened. You will talk to people, who will give you more information. You can use memories of people you meet against the Dark Echoes. I really liked this approach to gameplay and thought it was a really unique idea that worked well. It’s important to mention that you don’t die if you lose a battle, you simply get to try again. As you gain more memories you can begin to use a wider variety of attacks and abilities.
The battle system may look simple, but requires thought, patience and practice to be successful. The combat takes a lot of trial and error, but I enjoyed it and it never felt punishing. Each time I lost a battle, I enjoyed having to think about what I could try next time to beat the enemy. The world you explore is set on a very linear story. The areas you visit are unique and interesting to explore and investigate. You will find yourself travelling back and forth between the two worlds, which I thought worked really well. The game does a good job of introducing game mechanics and allows you to explore the world. I really liked the story and thought it was one of the more unique twists on gameplay I have seen in a while. I liked the characters, world and way in which the narrative developed.
The conversations and memories give insight into what the world used to be like and what went wrong. There’s an encyclopedia, which you can read if you wish. The overall presentation is great, but nothing we haven’t seen before. The game clearly draws inspiration from the likes of Final Fantasy and other JRPGs. The game uses colour very well to represent the two worlds and I really enjoyed exploring them. The characters are genuinely interesting. The sound design is worth mentioning and suits the game. It gives the world a magical feeling that I enjoyed. There is New Game + Mode that I tried for a bit but didn’t finish. There’s also “Developer Commentary” mode that gives some interesting information about the game.
Overall, Pale Echoes isn’t anything incredible and isn’t massively long in terms of length, but it’s certainly a game that I enjoyed. The battle system is clever and makes you think carefully about each attack and move you make. The story is very interesting and genuinely kept me entertained throughout. I liked the overall design of the worlds and characters and I would certainly recommend this game if you like old-fashioned JRPGs or a game that requires a bit of thought and patience.
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