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Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Chained Echoes

Have you ever seen an obnoxious movie or stage show where every conversation sounds like one person arguing with themselves, using the exact same limited vocabulary and speech patterns and cutesy turns of phrase for the entire runtime because it's painfully clear it's written by a single smug douchebag who thinks they're some kind of genius?  That's this game.  It's not any fun to play either, just lifting design elements from games like Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy 6 and Xenogears while sparing no thought for their writing quality, mechanical cohesiveness or pacing whatsoever.  There are tons of time wasting click-on-everything-to-find-the-plot-flag segments, obnoxiously boring and drawn-out dungeons and combat that moves fast yet still feels like it stretches out forever, with your actions constantly restricted at the whim of an arbitrary meter and every single enemy being a damage sponge that takes dozens of special move hits to kill, which is clearly by design since you get healed to full between fights.  Basically, Chained Echoes is yet another bland "homage game" that just uses that label as free license to steal ideas and pad itself out with dated design tropes and retread story beats while contributing nothing worthwhile of its own.  And that's the key word - steal.  There's no fresh twist on any of its plot devices, gameplay elements or characterizations, and none of them are done in any sort of self-aware, trope savvy fashion; it's just theft, perpetrated not out of any genuine reverence for classic RPGs, but solely to skim a quick buck off gamers nostalgic for an earlier era of role playing games while propping up the author's own lackluster writing skills in the process.  So instead of rewarding yet more plagiarism with a topping of personal vanity, just save your money for a few of the games it's blatantly lifting ideas from; nearly all of which are available today for well under this game's $30 price point.  Or if you want some fun, strongly written, well-paced indie RPGs that pay tribute to the classics while setting themselves apart too, play Hades, Symphony of War, Ikenfell, Deltarune or Horizon's Gate instead.  But hey, at least the title is apt for a game with design sensibilities chained in the most terribly dated parts of the past and a plot that's a faint echo of several much better games.

Developer: Matthias Linda
Publisher: Deck13 Spotlight
Platform: PS4, PS5, PC, Linux, Max OS, XBox One, XBox Series, Switch
Released: 2022