Before the Echo [Sequence] - Rhythm Games and RPGs Mix

Jan 26, 2022 at 5:57 AM
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1 year and 9 months ago, I purchased a game called "Before the Echo" for around $5, which is still its full price, looking for a cool RPG to play (it being a rhythm game was a cool bonus.) I really liked this game and was also surprised to see its release date to have been in 2011.

Overview

Firstly, I should mention I like time sinking games, I like rpgs, and I like rhythm games. While the time sink of this game isn't terrible, definitely less than other games I've played previously, it does get repetitive after a while, but I don't mind that, so it didn't bother me.

Another thing: I played the steam version of this game, which means no, I don't know what it's like on Xbox.

When making a new save, you are presented with difficulty options: Easy, Medium, Hard, and Spasmodic.
This is changeable until beating Floor 3 of the game.

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The difficulties change how many notes come at you at once, and how difficult charts are in the mana field (and in bonus play.) We'll get to what the mana field is in a moment. Before the Echo's charting is...ok. However, it gets a bit messy when we talk about defense field (again, will get to that.) Charting in the attack field is an attempt at being to the song, and it works alright, but sometimes it's hard to follow.

Ok, yea, I can talk about all these "field" and stuff all I want, but what exactly do I mean by defense and mana field?

The games gameplay is divided into three parts: Fields, Spells, and Health.

Health is pretty self-explanatory; you and your enemy have a health orb that gets smaller as you take damage.

Spells are your attack/heal method (though I think healing is a waste of mana.) You craft scrolls as you progress through the floors, and each scroll has a "Power", "Cost", and "Time" value. These determine damage, mana cost, and how long it takes to attack. You can synth (the crafting method) more scrolls by progressing and using items from monsters you've killed.

Finally, the one we've all been waiting for, Fields. There are three Fields: Defense, Spell, and Mana. Defense is how you prevent yourself from taking damage, each note missed deals more or less damage based on: A. defense stat and B. color. The colors of the notes (or gems as the game calls them) deal more or less damage based on color, ranging from gray (weakest) to red (strongest). Each enemy has a different rate of these colors which you can
view on their stat page before fighting them (which is listed as their spectrum).

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Spell field is where you cast your spells via QTE or notes. Spell length and power can range from short and fast with low damage, to long patterns that have large gaps but deal high damage. Spells can each be clicked or activated by 1-6 keys. You start out with few slots but get more as you continue through the tower. There are many types of spells such as Direct Damage, Shield, Damage Over Time, Boost, and Siphon to name a few. These all do different things, but most of the should make sense from the name alone (gee I wonder what Direct Damage means). All of these spells cost different amounts of mana, which leads me into the last field...

Mana field is where you regain mana. There's not really much more to say about it honestly. The charting is the same as the bonus menu, which means its either a lot or a little based on your difficulty of choice.

Next up on the list is crafting.

As you progress through the game, you get recipes that can be crafted from enemies on that floor. These include weapons, armor, accessories, scrolls, along with a key and inhibitor for that floor. I've explained weapons, armor, etc., but what's up with the key? And what the hell is an inhibitor?

To progress through the tower, you must craft a key to unlock the door. Pretty simple. However, each floor has a guardian, which is essentially the boss of that floor. Each of these bosses has an ability that negatively impacts you in some way, so to prevent this, you craft an inhibitor which prevents them from effecting you until the boss fight itself, where the inhibitor doesn't work any longer.

The way you craft in this game is cool and yet painful. It's a percent chance. The only way to increase the chance is by using exp. That's right. To craft you use exp, and to increase the chance of crafting success (which goes up to 95%) you use exp which can cause you to level down. This is also how you learn spells via scrolls (scrolls cost very little exp to craft however).

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That's all there really is to crafting items though, it costs exp, and more if you don't want to risk failing a synth. A good number of items are stat increases, spells, or keys/inhibitors.

The final thing I think I really need to discuss is enemy/music variety. Enemies can range from being complete unique, to later be reskins of previous monsters (sometimes with different spectrums to match their colors). I don't really mind this. I am by no means an artist, and honestly, for $5, the amount of care already put into this is beautiful, but it still bothers me a little bit. Also speaking of art, holy, whoever made all of the art for this game is very talented, I really like the background art of this game.

Floor 1
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Floor 3
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The music variety also suffers from sameness. If you look closely at the two images in that spoiler, I sent just above this, you can see both of the songs are "Rapid Fire" by DJ Plaeskool (one of my favorites by the way). Mr. Plaeskool made most of the non-battle music for this game, however the man who made most of the music for battles is Ronald Jenkees (or ronaldjenkees... ronald jenkees?) This leads a lot of the music to sound similar, but that isn't my issue because these songs are incredible in my personal opinion. However, a lot of the songs are reused for enemies later in the game that are similar which really is me just being a nit-picking bitch, but hey, what can I say, I fit the role well.

I may have missed a few things worth mentioning, but the only thing that really comes to mind is item drop rates from monsters. But, like, I assume you understand, yes? Moving on we have the story!

Story

The story isn't really anything special to be honest, but I'll summarize it.

You are Ky. No, your character is not a knight in shining armor, actually he acts similarly to how a normal human would...sometimes at least. After waking up, Ky is told through a speaker to fight an enemy that is approaching where you learn the basics of the game. The character talking through these speakers is Naia, also known as the Shepard.

Naia guides you to a safe room, this is where you learn about the rest of the game's mechanics.

After a few floors of...interesting characters, you see a woman who quickly vanishes somewhere after being seen.

Shortly after, Ky and Naia get into a fight (I'm going to be honest I don't feel like replaying to that point to figure out why). This leads to her being more passive and ignoring most of what Ky says to her. On floor 4, you meet Jane, a military general, who upon defeating helps you through to get to where Naia is being kept, because Maia was kidnapped. Because of this Jane acts as your temporary Shepard, insisting this wasn't part of the "plan."

After another encounter with the mysterious woman where she teleports away, you arrive at floor 5.

Upon defeating that floors boss, you save Naia, and you both continue forward with Jane as your Shepard.

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After beating what appears to be the mysterious woman you've seen around, enter the 7th Floor. There isn't really much to discuss here.

The final boss after opening the 7th door and beating that boss does some big lore dump though, so even bigger spoilers.

After you have an encounter with that mysterious woman again, the real one this time, she is said to be a hacker trying to communicate to Ky and Naia to get out and that Aaron (floor 7 boss) is lying to them.
After beating the final boss, it's revealed that everything, even the stuff Jane claimed to be unintentional was all planned without them knowing it because they were AI. The entire tower and everything in it were a simulation designed to make Ky and Naia fall in love. Why? Because the master of the tower believes that in order to create a new generation or smart individuals and to not have them dragged down by those who are inferior, they must combine the genetic code of two smarter individuals.

In the post credits sequence, it's revealed that the hacker actually knows this master of the tower, and they were working together (though honestly since this is from memory, I am unsure.

But yea, that is basically Before the Echo. I'd like to say before posting this thread: I probably missed stuff, and if you want to buy the game, don't read the plot spoiler, because not only does it spoil a lot, but there is also a good chance I got some of it wrong.

Right now, I'm in the middle of my second playthrough on Spasmodic difficulty and am having a lot of fun doing it. If you want to play the game for yourself it can be found here. If you read to this point, thanks. This took me like 3-4 hours to make off of some random inspiration to talk about it.

Have a great rest of your day.
 
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