August 31, 2017
Might and Delight
Might and Delight
Tiny Echo is a simple game set in a gorgeous world. It’s a game with a basic premise and a captivating style. It’s a game that wants to absorb you into its universe, engross you with its visual designs, and transport you to another place.
The game is the latest in Humble Bundle’s Originals program, a set of games made available to monthly subscribers. Tiny Echo may not be the most ambitious game in the Originals catalogue, but it’s definitely one of the more stylistically and visually compelling. It’s also a game developed by Might and Delight who previously created Meadow and the Shelter series. Those familiar with Might and Delight’s work will see recognisable traits in Tiny Echo: A captivating and unique visual style, a narrative told without words, and a game that’s more about exploration and interaction with your environment than gameplay, challenge or mechanics.
Tiny Echo is a point and click adventure game where you play as an adorable and almost humanoid courier, delivering mail to the spirits of the creatures around you. You explore a small but beautiful world made up of interconnected regions and encounter odd creatures and occasional puzzles to overcome. Your deliveries begin easy, but moving around the ethereal world becomes slightly more difficult due to the maze-like environments around you. Deliveries also get harder due to picky and demanding recipients who won’t take their mail simply, requiring you to figure out what else they need. The game never gets particularly challenging, but I was temporarily stumped on the odd occasion due to the complete lack of prompts, tips or dialogue from the game.
Artistically and stylistically the game strikes a chord. The scenery and character design is intriguing and beautiful. And the creatures you encounter are all uniquely odd but never too far-fetched that they didn’t fit the world. Tiny Echo’s visuals was reminiscent of a particularly well drawn children’s fantasy book – it just had that kind of imaginative wonder to it. A washed-out colour palette, odd and inspired creatures, and a subtle yet atmospheric musical score also helped to create the ethereal and slightly dark world around you. Whilst the game may be gorgeous, there’s definitely a sense of unease generated whilst you’re playing. And the first time a creature grabs your mail using only its shadow is genuinely unsettling.
Unfortunately the style and atmosphere doesn’t do quite enough to overcome what amounts to fairly dull gameplay. Mechanically speaking, the act of pointing and clicking has never been the most challenging or stimulating interaction in gaming (at least by today’s standards). Point and click adventure games are able to overcome this through clever and novel puzzles, or fantastic and hilarious writing, but Tiny Echo doesn’t strive for this.
“Tiny Echo created a memorable world but one that only allowed you to walk through it slowly, with the most minimal of interaction.”
The game’s puzzles are very simple, often amounting to clicking on something in the environment, and it has no writing whatsoever. It instead wants to stimulate its players through art, exploration, and assigning meaning to the game’s imagery. For some this may be enough, but for me it fell short. In this regard, the game’s lack of ambition to create a more elaborate experience was really its biggest undoing. Tiny Echo created a memorable world but one that only allowed you to walk through it slowly, with the most minimal of interaction.
Tiny Echo also employs the “narrative without words” angle by trying to communicate its story through visuals alone. This method is done well here, with little snippets of cutscene thrown in throughout the game. What we are shown is ambiguous and abstract, but it helps to set a mood and create a world that’s both mysterious and alluring.
- Stylistically and visually compelling
- Dark undertones that create a great atmosphere
- Imaginative and wondrous character design and world design
- Slow and dull progression
- A lack of meaningful interaction
- Not particularly ambitious or captivating gameplay
Tiny Echo doesn’t impress in every field. Whilst it may present a beautiful and wondrous world, it doesn’t manage to stimulate its player through either mechanical or intellectual proficiency. This is a real shame, particularly because there is a genuine charm and atmosphere to Tiny Echo that isn’t fully realised in a short experience. Players who enjoyed Might and Delight’s past work will most certainly enjoy Tiny Echo as well because the same things that captivated players previously are still present. But this won’t be a game for every gamer.