Ceci n'est pas un pipe.
Preview by James Cunningham (Email)
July 27th 2007
Pretend for a moment that M. C. Escher focused exclusively on perspective tricks rather than amazing experiments in form, composition, and even light refraction to make up the bulk of his art. Now put him in charge of a designing a game with minimalist sensibilities, and you might end up with something like Echochrome. Possibly starring a lizard that metamorphoses into a bird instead of the artist's mannequin that actually traverses Echochrome's impossible pathways, but something similar nonetheless. The point is, Echochrome is going to hurt people's heads and warp their minds in the best possible way.
Echochrome is a game about guiding a mannequin (who could use a name, so I'll call him Manny from here on) through a 3D maze. Manny walks automatically, never stopping, but is smart enough not to throw himself over any edges he runs across. He can fall through holes or get thrown through the air by trampolines, and from what's been revealed of the gameplay so far, that looks to be basically it in terms of maze obstacles. The real challenge in Echochrome is in rotating the maze so that Manny can walk through optical illusions.
There might be a hole in the floor Manny will fall through, for example. Rotate the maze so that a convenient post is hiding the hole and, as far as you, Manny, and Echochrome are concerned, that hole doesn't exist. The player's perspective on the maze doesn't show the hole, so it's effectively gone until the maze is rotated to a different angle.
That's just the start of the way Echochrome plays with spatial perception. The mazes are viewed from an isometric angle, hanging in 3D space. Rotating the view so that two non-connecting paths look like they're intersecting will let Manny treat them as they appear. The maze isn't really 3D, it's a construct viewed on a 2D screen existing in computer memory, and getting over the perception of 3D is the only way to progress through Echochrome's puzzles. Want to use a trampoline to bounce Manny to a beam that looks to be 15 feet straight up, but a quick shift of viewing angle reveals it to be more like 20 feet up and 90 over? No problem! Both views are valid, so it's just a matter switching to the angle that gives the best advantage.
Echochrome is based on a bit of PC freeware called the OLE Coordinate System, or Object Locative Environment, created by Jun Fujiki. Though there doesn't seem to be a way to save any created mazes, it's still fun to mess around with. Check it out here and get ready for one of the stranger puzzlers ever to twist your views on 3D space.