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ECHO: Secrets of the Lost Cavern

Score: 80%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: The Adventure Company
Developer: Kheops
Media: CD/2
Players: 1
Genre: Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

ECHO: Secrets of the Lost Cavern takes the standard problem-solving adventure and puts an interesting twist on things, but ultimately it doesn't stray very far from the standard problem-solver.

The visuals of ECHO are among the game's best attributes. The authentic looking cave paintings, wild animals and even the way shadows play off of the wall when there is a fire lit all help to pull you into the game's prehistoric backdrop. The first-person angle with free pivot/rotating capabilities almost reminded me of playing games like Myst III, which works, it just seems a bit outdated at this point. The cutscenese are beautiful and are stunning pieces of work in themselves -- unfortunately there were plenty of times when I would get a lag or other frame-rate issues while watching them. This is a bit disheartening since my Radeon 9800 Pro should be well within the specified requirements.

The game's music and sound effects also lent themselves well to the game's setting. The background music was a mix of percussions and earthy-wind instruments giving the game a very tribal feel, while the sound effects like the crackle of the fire or growl of an animal also seemed dead on.

Where the visual surroundings and secondary sounds really help to draw you into the Paleolithic Era, the voice acting (or maybe just the script) yanks you back out. It isn't that the voice acting is bad, though it is a bit stiff at times, it's that the words and phrases they are saying make the characters seem a bit too... educated. The characters just seemed less like cavemen and more like modern people who like to run around in animal skins and live in the mountains and woods.


ECHO: Secrets of the Lost Cavern gives you control of Arok, a young ancestor of ours on a quest to find an old teacher of his that will allow him to hone his cave painting skills. Klem, the Paleolithic Michelangelo, once visited our hero when the character was a boy. Arok wanted to go with Klem when the painter left the village, but Arok said it wasn't his time to leave.

Fast forward a few years and Arok finds himself in a cave that his former mentor had passed through on his way to "The Lost Cavern". While looking at the teacher's art, he finds that the Spirits of the Walls allow him to interact and manipulate the paintings. It is then that he decides to follow his master's footsteps and look for the cavern (and Klem).

Besides the standard gathering and using of items strewn about the environment, ECHO also makes you manipulate (or occasionally create) cave painting frescoes left behind by Klem. These wall paintings have one of two effects on the game-world. One effect is that it can give Arok an idea on what he needs in order to get past his current obstacle, the other is the painting changing the environment itself.

For example, in an early puzzle, you see a painting of a bison and three stick figures. Depending on whether you click on the bison or the group of people, there are different reactions. Eventually, Arok will figure out the solution to the problem based on these reactions.

An example of a puzzle that actually changes the world is when (later on) you need to get past a sleeping bear and you find a cave painting of the exact same situation. Through trial-and-error you find a way past the bear (all acted out through the painting) and this will also happen in Arok's situation as well.

While The Lost Cavern has the potential to be a long game with tons of puzzles (after all, Arok is supposed to be on a long and dangerous quest), the game will last only about 10-12 hours. This makes it a bit short and leaves you wanting more.


In general, ECHO: Secrets of the Lost Cavern has a steady pace to it. Each of the major puzzles take a bit of time and thought before you can move on, while the more minor problem-solving aspects are fairly quick and let you go to the juicy, tougher parts.

There were quite a few puzzles in Lost Cavern that kept me stumped for a while and it wasn't until I put the game away for a bit and came back to it that I was able to find the solution. I found this to be a good strategy on several occasions. Mind you, it wasn't that I got so frustrated with ECHO that I had to turn the PC off, I just had to go and do something else and when I got back the (almost too simple) solution slapped me in the face.

Game Mechanics:

ECHO: Secrets of the Lost Cavern's main game mechanic oddities come directly from the game's time period and situation. Because you are a young caveman, you have to perform tasks that you wouldn't in other games. Granted, a game like Return to Mysterious Island might have you collect some supplies and build a fire, I don't recall it going into quite the depth that this game did. Other unusual goals involve collecting pigment for your paintings and prepping them (like mixing them with water).

Though ECHO has a few interesting gimmicks that really help to make it stand out (conceptually anyway), in the end, it is just another adventure title ... and a short one at that. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. I have been a long-time adventure gamer, and I really enjoy seeing unique puzzles, or old puzzles presented in different ways. Because of this, Secrets of the Lost Cavern's atypical setup makes it something most problem-solving gamers will want to try their hand at.

The moving frescoes and how they either manipulate the world or give your character ideas is an unusual twist that should make most of this game's target audience take notice. I wouldn't necessarily recommend this game to someone who isn't into this genre a whole lot -- but for the hard-core adventure gamers out there, it's worth it.

-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

Minimum System Requirements:

Windows 98SE/ME/2000/XP, 800 MHz Pentium III, 64 MB RAM, 1.2 GB Hard Drive Space, 16x Speed CD/DVD-ROM, 64 MB DirectX 9 Compliant Video Card, DirectX9 Compatible Audio Device, keyboard and mouse

Test System:

Windows XP Professional Ed., AMD Athlon XP 2400+ 2GHz, 2 GB RAM, DVD-RW, Radeon 9800 Pro, DirectX 9.0c

Sony PlayStation 2 Makai Kingdom Sony PlayStation 2 Graffiti Kingdom

Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated