Yesterday I got the chance to try the first ever playable demo of Lone Echo 2, the highly anticipated sequel to our 2017 Game of the Year winner, Lone Echo. In the series you play as Jack, a robotic ally to Liv, one of VR’s most emotive and well-developed NPC companions.
From what I saw during my demo, Lone Echo 2 is very much a bigger and better sequel. Rather than throwing out the entire design of the first game and starting from scratch, Ready at Dawn have taken a more iterative approach. Jack and Liv are still the center of the story, as is there constant struggle for survival in abandoned reaches of deep space, and you’ll still float around in zero gravity environments exploring, talking with Liv, and uncovering secrets. Taken at face value, it sounds awfully similar — but there’s more to it than that.
In the interview above you can see more details about the vision for this sequel, but specifically in my demo I spent about 20 minutes absolutely immersed and thrilled to be back in one of VR’s most beloved worlds.
Things started out simple enough: Liv tells me that we need to figure out how to get deeper into the ship we’re stranded on and figure out what’s going on more or less. After a bit of floating around and grappling on sections of the environment, we entered what looked like an atrium. Visually this area actually reminded me quite a bit of the main lobby area from recent sci-fi film Passengers or like some of the ships you see in BioWare’s Mass Effect games.
The first part of the demo was extremely familiar for anyone that’s played the original Lone Echo. Liv and I floated about rooms, she remarked on some objects in the world, I could ask her questions about things to get more insight, and eventually I triggered some dialog about another ship floating out in space. That’s when the Central Intelligence unit kicks on.
Having another character around really helps not only liven up moments of dialog, but it also brings out extra layers for both Liv and Jack as characters. Notably, Liv starts to sound more guarded and careful due to Central appearing as another artificial machine that’s far less warm and welcoming than Jack, whereas Jack seems less apprehensive towards Central and more open to hearing its ideas. Based on the dialog choices you have to make, you can lean into some of those new implications a bit.
Eventually I came across a room I needed to get into but the door is locked and the area is overran with biomass that’s pulsing and glowing, desperately trying to make contact with an energy source. At this point I’ve got to venture deeper into the ship to restore power to get into the room, but must be careful not to touch the biomass or else it could force Jack to reboot at a fabrication station, similar to the original game.
The first Lone Echo was notable for its slow pace and lack of physical enemies and combat and even though Lone Echo 2 mostly holds true to that same concept, it does have a bit more variety now. In particular, Ready at Dawn have done a good job of making enemies both parts of the puzzle solving and action scenes simultaneously.
Like most demos of this format, I just wanted to see more. I only got to just briefly interact with the biomass creatures before our demo time was over and I could honestly spend an entire day or more just hanging out with Liv, chatting. More than anything Lone Echo 2 is a world I want to spend more time in because despite the crippling loneliness of its setting, I can’t help but feel closer to Liv when she looks at me and smiles.
The fact that the Echo universe has expanded so dramatically to now include three total games (Lone Echo, Echo Arena, and Echo Combat) as well as the upcoming sequel is an excellent sign. Ready at Dawn have built a true universe with multi-franchise potential and Oculus appears to be all-in on supporting that vision.
Lone Echo 2 is slated for an early 2020 release on the Oculus Rift platform. Let us know what you think of what you’ve seen so far down in the comments below!