Pop Culture is filled with excellent games, shows, and movies that follow a group of kids in a small town biting off way more than they can chew in a big adventure. Some of the biggest examples that come to mind are Stranger Things, IT, and the Mother series. There's something anyone can relate to in these kinds of stories, bringing back memories of their own childhood adventures, or satisfying that leap from the ordinary into the extraordinary. Cococucumber is seeking to capture that sense of adventure with their upcoming pixel turn-based RPG Echo Generation.
Echo Generation follows a group of kids who have banded together to fight off strange creatures including aberrant horrors, creepy clowns, and rats of unusual size that begin appearing after a spaceship crashlands in a nearby field. Where the story begins though is with Dylan, a sci-fi film fan writing his own aliens screenplay, exploring the town in search of his lost cat. Echo Generation hits the ground running ensuring players know they're in for a strange adventure. You fight raccoons who were picking through trash, distract a law-abiding dog with illegal parking, and steal a puppet for a strange being trying to collect them to raise an army. Your first encounter with an enemy is a gang of talking raccoons digging through the trash. This is just the beginning of the crazy colorful characters that you'll meet in the starting town alone. In a world filled with so many weird sights, it makes story progression unpredictable and entertaining.
Just like any RPG world, Echo Generation is filled with a variety of characters each with their own needs. While the area of the demo isn't too large it's filled with people to talk to and items to collect. Players are rewarded by searching the extremities of the map and picking up items that can either help you in battle, or that can be used to trade for other items or access to new areas. Your first party member, your sister, wants a traffic cone for her room before she'll join the party. On the other side of town, there's a dog angry at a cone that has been incorrectly placed, by pointing out a car parked across lines you're able to take the dog's attention off the cone for long enough to grab it. Even the addition of a new party member opens up more of the world for you to explore.
These small quests and collectibles are also so frequent that it works well to keep you invested and aware of where you want to go next. "Oh, this person wants a puppet? I know where those might be." It's simple, but effective, and keeps even the most distracted player drawn in. When each next progress marker is a few minutes away everything seems more attainable.
Combat, while being turn-based, is very interactive. Even your basic punch and defending from an attack comes with a reaction command that you simply need to press when the icon appears. In the overworld collecting comics will give your characters special abilities each come with their own minigame including matching button presses and stopping a bar in the perfect spot. This combat will be familiar to fans of the original Paper Mario titles or the recently released Bug Fables. Even leveling your character is similar to Paper Mario, it isn't just a flat increase in stats. You'll be given the options to increase your health, attack power, or skill point maximum.
What's really standout about Echo Generation is the somewhat realistic 2D voxel style graphics. Borrowing the same art style as their own previous game, Riverbond, Cococucumber has created a really unique and recognizable game. If 8-bit and 16-bit graphical styles were to think what they hoped to become in the future Echo Generation shows that high-quality voxel art styles don't need to be clunky or non-descript. Characters' movement is extremely fluid and the game runs fantastically. Pairing with the fantastic visual aesthetic is the great soundtrack. Filled with chiptunes and heavy synth emphasis it does lean a bit more into the 80s style vs the early 90s that the game is set in, but does wonders immediately informing the players that the game is set in the past.
The Echo Generation demo was short but sweet. It should only take you 1-2 hours to get through depending on how thorough you are in exploring but it shows off everything that the game has to offer perfectly. Interesting puzzles and quests, fun and engaging turn-based combat, and a whole lot of weirdness in the characters and presentation of the world. The worst part about the demo is the scale of the cliffhanger it leaves you on, meaning to find out more we have to wait until 2021 and the full release of Echo Generation.
TechRaptor previewed Echo Generation on PC Via Steam with a code provided by the developers. This game will also be available on Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S