RPGs are a dime a dozen in the mobile market, with features ranging from complex combat systems to heart-string-tugging stories, or even a beautiful soundtrack. Yoozoo Games’ latest entry Echocalypse, which soft-launched recently in Australia and Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines, is looking to make its mark in the genre.
Echocalypse is an RPG with beautiful animations and a stellar Japanese voice cast. Unfortunately, these notable qualities are trapped inside underwhelming gameplay, which relies on risqué outfits and suggestive eye candy to create a memorable experience for the player.
▍A Great Beginning to a Story That Falls Flat
In Echocalypse, the player takes on the role of a civilian accompanied by his/her younger sister Rayna, where the duo excavates Echo Crystals in order to make a living in a post-apocalyptic world torn apart by foreseen calamities 50 years ago. On one such trip, the radical organization Rasparta attempts to kidnap Rayna in the belief that she is the Ancient One, who is believed to have brought Echo Crystals to the world and caused the calamities.
In the ensuing struggle, Rayna becomes completely fused inside Echo Crystals while the protagonist is forced to watch. With nowhere else left to turn to, the protagonist takes on the role of Awakener, teaming up with a group known as Teslovik so that they can obtain the Great Relic needed to free his/her sister from the crystalline prison.
Regardless of the gender selected for the main character, Echocalypse features voice acting for many story cutscenes, interactive CGs, and live 2D character sprites. The game’s story does an amazing job of capturing the chaos that comes from being suddenly ambushed by armed forces, and its voice acting and anime cutscene sets the tone for the chapter to come.
Sadly, Echocalypse wastes the tension built from the initial story beats with several consecutive levels dubbed ‘training sessions,’ which don’t provide any new information important to the story and act as a filler. While it isn’t difficult to progress through most of the early levels, it felt that my time was being wasted after experiencing an exciting introduction.
▍Little to No Control in Combat
The combat system of Echocalypse draws similarities to Princess Connect! Re: Dive, where each character, or Case in this particular game, builds up a gauge through their auto attacks. It will automatically cast a Skill when the gauge is filled to the maximum that features a quick anime cutscene.
Each battle is limited by the number of Rounds, or Turns, that a player can take; the battle is considered a loss if the player fails to defeat all enemy waves within the allotted Rounds given.
Boss Battles feature a special enemy that the player can preview before the battle begins, getting an idea of what kind of challenge the fight poses for the player’s Squad. This feature is a bit of a waste, given that you cannot preview the Boss’s skills once the fight begins, and the option to preview other enemies never comes up during gameplay.
Though the player is unable to control the actions of their Cases directly, they can instead utilize Artifacts to impact the battle. Doing so requires spending Fusion Points, where each point is gained per round, and each Artifact is unique in the effects they apply.
The core of Echocalypse’s strategy mostly boils down to the Cases that the player brings, instead of the gameplay itself, which may not be the same for everyone. The player can also unlock the ability to skip battles once they reach the 6th Combat Zone, yet doing so will still grant the player a 3-Star rating! The title’s combat system feels like an afterthought, as there are several different ways that players can avoid paying attention in battle even when Auto Mode is ignored.
▍Excessive Level Gating, Even in Settings
Most game features are locked behind player progression so as to not overwhelm beginners, but Echocalypse takes the concept a bit too far. Basic settings are considered staples in a majority of games, but locking the ability to disable Skill cutscenes behind a significant level cap (Lv.40 in this case) is unnecessary, as they prolong the time spent fighting and the novelty of each anime cutscene can easily wear out after a few times.
▍Assemble Your Dream Team with Beautiful Waifus!
As a typical anime gacha game, Echocalypse has many different cute or gorgeous-looking Cases in its roster that are sure to grab the attention of waifu collectors. The game’s Bio-chip system makes duplicates from gacha useful, powering up a character’s skills and stats. Bio-chips can also be used to unlock an R or SR rarity Case by completing the Regression game mode, which is unlocked early on.
To encourage players to collect many different Cases, the game also has a Link mechanic, which provides significant stat bonuses when specific characters are in the same party.
Echocalypse has decent gacha rates for SSR Cases at 3%, but players are guaranteed an SSR Case by their 51st pull with the game’s soft pity.
Another way in which Echocalypse works around this low gacha rate is with the First Appearance Draw system, which rewards player progression by allowing the user to roll three 10x draws, featuring a 10% SSR rate! From there, the player can view the results of their rolls, and pick the result to keep. Rerolling isn’t an option, however, as the game starts with the player with very little gacha currency.
▍The Training Aspect is the RPGs’ Usual Drill
Collecting high rarity characters isn’t enough in Echocalypse, as there are plenty of ways to empower Cases. Similar to most RPGs, players can level and upgrade the skills of their units using materials gathered from completing battles. One thing to keep in mind is that a Case’s level cannot exceed your own player level, so powerleveling a single character to get ahead isn’t an option.
By consuming a certain number of Bio-chips, the Case’s star rarity can also increase, up to a total of 7 Stars. Naturally, this is easier to reach using low rarity characters, making them decent slot-ins when a higher rarity character isn’t available.
A Case’s equipment also plays a role in the battle performance and can be farmed through exploring the Abyssal Depths. Thankfully, stamina isn’t a restriction in that mode as the number of Abyss points needed to obtain powerful equipment can take a while to gather if the player is unlucky with drops.
Echocalypse doesn’t do anything special with its character upgrade system, but using the Quick Clear, or even Skip Battle feature can save hours in farming the required materials for your Squad.
▍Hang Out Away From the Battlefield
You can also dispatch the girls outside of battle to passively farm materials while idle. Using higher rarity Cases increases the rewards obtained, but certain characters can also increase the reward output. As a bonus, the dispatched units appear in each room as cute chibi sprites.
In Echocalypse, players can raise their affinity with their characters by sending gifts. Raising a Case’s affinity will grant them higher stats, and can also unlock more information about her background. The gifts required to boost affinity are obtained as PVP rewards or by spending gacha currency in the shop, which can be a problem as the rate of obtaining Iridimorphite is slow outside of completing main story objectives and farming the PVP mode.
There is also a dormitory mode that players can decorate with furniture, but many of the more aesthetically pleasing pieces also cost gacha currency. Basic furniture is purchased using Decoration Points, but the mode to acquire this currency is unlocked much later after gaining access to the dormitory for the first time. The game doesn’t give any starter furniture either, so decorating your dorm can be a hassle.
▍Echocalypse Needs to Work Harder on Its Gameplay
Gameplay-wise, Echocalypse is nothing to write home about as its combat system is very basic and doesn’t require much strategy for most fights. The English translation is relatively accurate, but some dialogue and UI messages are worded weirdly or lack punctuation marks, like a period at the end of the sentence.
On the other hand, the title’s visual quality is impressive, showcasing plenty of detailed unit art and high-quality character graphics. The outfits of some of the Cases can be very suggestive and there is a lot of emphasis placed on a character’s ‘assets,’ for better or worse. Players who simply enjoy collecting different units should take a look at Echocalypse to see if the game fits their tastes, but Yoozoo Games’ recent addition is not for you if highly engaging or strategic gameplay is what you want.
In its current state, I would give Echocalypse a 2.5/5, as the game’s art style and popular voice acting are not enough to disregard other areas of the app that feel rushed or underutilized in comparison.