From Software has had some major releases in the past decade, but many people haven’t had the chance to play some of their earlier titles from the PS1 and PS2 era. I was lucky enough to find these titles YEARS ago, so that my wallet isn’t hurting as I travel down From Software’s history on Sony systems.
Echo Night was released in the States in 1999 and from what I can see, it didn’t do too well financially. This game was hard for me to get about ten years ago, I only got the disc and the manual. Now it is an extremely high priced collectable, like its PlayStation 2 sequel Echo Night: Beyond.
To be honest, this story is a little difficult to follow. From Software likes to tell their stories very minimally and even in the beginning of their career they liked to do that. You play as a man named Richard who has just received a phone call from the police department regarding his father. Henry Osmond.
You arrive at your father’s house to see that it is crawling with the police. An officer allows you to look around and that’s where your sinister time traveling tale of adventure begins. You find your father’s diary and are suddenly transported to a train. In this train you see your father in his youth confronting another man. Demons and stones are mentioned, once you see the outcome you are thrust back into the present and continue to search the house more.
Items that your find and interact with in the house send you away to a luxury cruise ship called the Orpheus. This is where a big chunk of the “point and click” game takes place. You find continue to find out about the stones, this mystical world you’ve stumbled in and a creepy ghost girl. You have to play this title all the way through to the end to see which ending you get, and there are several.
I will admit, the controls for this game are hard to get use to, I’m very thankful that there is NO combat in this title. If there was you would die constantly because of how they assigned the controls. What I found weird was that they didn’t use the Right Thumbstick to control the camera. Instead they assigned those movements to the shoulder buttons and it takes some time to get use to that mechanic.
To strafe left and right you use the R1 and R2 triggers. Looking up and down you’ll have to press L1 and L2, this makes the very delicate environment interactions nigh impossible, especially if you’re in a hurry. Thankfully there isn’t any combat in this game, you just have to dodge and point and click to solve puzzles that help you figure out what is going on.
To navigate you use the left thumbstick. Square is inventory, in inventory Triangle is equip, out of inventory Triangle is interact and read while Cross is interact with doors and cabinets. They should have picked one button for interact, but I was looking for a clue then decided to hit all the buttons and Triangle allowed me to look at a painting I needed to, Cross didn’t. If you can get past the archaic controls, the story and atmosphere alone will keep you hooked.
From Software really hasn’t changed design wise in decades. Echo Night is as creepy and compelling as Demon Souls and Bloodborne. The developers really used the original PlayStation’s hardware as best as they could. The worlds that you explore are macabre and can give you gooseflesh at times.
The music also brings you into the world, I know that the heavy pixilation can be a turn off to some, but really beauty is on the inside and that’s how you have to look at Echo Night. It’s how you play the original Metal Gear Solid, you forget how gross it looks but enjoy the story and gameplay elements.
I really enjoyed my time with this title, I’m glad that I found a copy before I would have to sell an organ to purchase it. If you are a huge fan of From Software and want to see where they came from your best bet would probably be to emulate the title, unless it is available for the PS Vita, I know I snagged Shadow Tower on there because I refused to pay 100 dollars for a used game that I may not enjoy. Yes, Shadow Tower is another From Software game, for some reason their older titles are worth a King’s Ransom now!
Personally, I love playing older games from companies that are killing it now. I want to dive into Bioware’s older series MDK to see where they came from as well. It is such a blast for me to see that history. From Software fans should at least attempt to play these titles if you can find them. You can see all their ideas in low polygonal form and be amazed how far they’ve come.
You can see their where they molded the Souls series and Bloodborne from their earlier gothic work. I love to see it, and if you do as well, find this game. If you’re just a passing fan of the title maybe just watch a Let’s Play since that would be cheaper. I hope to play as many of these as I can before Elden Ring comes out!
From Software has a longer lineage than just as far back as Demon's Souls. Echo Night is one of their first titles on the PSX and it drips of their design.
- Story is engaging, but also confusing at times.
- From Software's classic macabre oozes out of this game.
- The 3D graphics are hard to look at, but you can see hints of current From Software in them.
- The controls are very hard to master.
- Very short game sadly.
- Very expensive to find in this hot Retro market now.