19th Entertainment Division Excellence Award
Jesse RINGROSE / Jason ENNIS [Canada]
Dark Echo is a minimalistic puzzle and horror game that leaves everything to the imagination. Trapped in darkness, a player must use visualized sound to guide their way through threatening environments. The sounds of the player’s footsteps are expressed as lines that bounce off obstacles to reveal the shape of the surrounding world. Although this is the only way for the player to sense through darkness, it also attracts a horrifying evil presence that devours both sound and souls. Evil draws closer with every step, making sounds that turn into red lines. Fighting against heart-racing fear, the player must survive through 80 stages. The foreboding soundscape amplifies the thrills of survival, and is best experienced with headphones. Dark Echo challenges the players to explore, solve puzzles, and stay alive in a world of darkness.
Reason for Award
The screen remains black. We see only footprints. This is a game where one must escape from darkness using footprints, sounds, and lines. There is no music, only ambient resonance. The player’s physical movements cause radiating lines that reveal the landscape. Sensing the sound of our feet splashing through water in a narrow path, we imagine being trapped in an underground waterway. The lines turn red. We hear muffled sounds, screams, burst of noise; Death. The screen shows nothing, not even the enemy, the landscape, or ourselves. The story is woven in darkness through simple and abstract expressions. The red lines are moving, growling. They’re alive.Even when playing on a smartphone under bright lights, we feel lost inside a dark maze. The stages are also designed to intensify fear. By investigating gameplay, the artists create abstract art that evokes primal fear. Dark Echo is a rigorously designed, powerfully entertaining work that inspires imagination. (YONEMITSU Kazunari)