Skyler Johnson ‘22 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Itch.io has a plethora of free games to browse, it almost makes spending any money ridiculous. However, many of these games range in quality, from the internet sensation Doki Doki Literature Club to many broken demos. However, if you look long enough, you’ll find plenty of games that are worth your time. The perfect example is Echo Beach, a new text-based game from developer Tim Sheinman.
Essentially, music is banned and you are working for the government, tasked with finding musicians participating in an online forum. They use pseudonyms but you can find out their identities through different clues, all to have them arrested. Your reward is a vacation to Echo Beach.
The most intriguing aspect of this game is the writing. Told through blog posts, you receive an excellent narrative that both offers immense details on the characters and the world. The dialogue is neatly contained within the parameters of Internet conversation. Sheinman was very clear not to extend the game’s reach. Ultimately, this is about the internet, and about the many communities that tend to come, and as the game portrays, also tend to go. It is also a dismal game, one where you are forced to rip apart these people’s lives in heartbreaking ways. You destroy friendships and relationships just to get a nice vacation.
It plays similarly to Papers Please, with clues, machines to recognize them, and themes of governmental power dynamics. The difference is in the way that they engage with those they’re in control over. In Echo Beach you have a more intimate relationship with the targets, and get to see their lives, personalities, and interests.
The game also has an excellent soundtrack. You get to listen to the music your targets create, and the styles and ranges of this music differ greatly. Some of it even has clues in order to find targets. Either way, the actual quality of the music is really good, and the game’s Spotify playlist (which has all the songs) is recommended.
The one minor issue is the implementation of musical instruments. You get the ability to create music using sound equipment. It’s not required and doesn’t affect the story, which makes it confusing.
Overall, this is an excellent game that’ll have you thinking, feeling, and playing, for the entire game’s runtime. It’s definitely worth your time.