There is something sad about the Lone Echo II, and also its brilliant predecessor – if you ask me. This is the last Oculus-exclusive, Facebopok-funded high-budget game we will get, after this Zuckerberg & Co has decided not to invest this type of money in their own big games, and I think it feels depressing on several way than one. There is also something deeply sad about the fact that the developers of Ready at Dawn’s best games do not get a fraction of the attention that their worst (The Order 1886) received. Lone Eacho was and remains one of the best VR games released and together with, for example, Superhot VR, Half-Life: Alyx and to some extent also Beat Saber, it showed with great clarity how good modern virtual reality can really be, in game form , if things are done the right way.
Lone Echo II takes (unsurprisingly) exactly where the previous adventure ended and for those of you who enjoyed the predecessor, you will, like me, get into the right mindset and mood right away. Liv (Olivia Rhodes) and Jack (Echo One) wake up 400 years into the future on an alien ship and before they know it, the anti-secular matter they encountered has recently evolved into a massive galaxy destroyer named Ticks, which must now be stopped before it reaches the civilized world. The panic creeps in, but despite this the pace is even slower this time, which both freed me as a player during my six hours with Lone Echo II but at the same time sometimes bored me.
Ready at Dawn is based a little too often and a little too much on the basis that I as a player am completely fresh, 100% clueless and have no idea what is really going on. The tutorial part is spread out to hours of tragic moments where the game becomes so hopelessly overblown with exactly how to press a button, or examine a particular part of the spaceship and in the matingly slow way this is done, it is difficult to do not sigh deeply from boredom during certain moments. I’m not saying that the tempo must not be low and slow, because it was one of the parts of the predecessor that I really appreciated – But there are plenty of clarity here that writes me as a player on the snok both once and 700 times, and that together with a little well heavy exposure in the narrative, makes me prefer the first game when it comes to tempo variation, structure and above all the story that is painted.
Purely game mechanically, this is brilliant, though. Just like when it comes to the mood throughout the six-hour (short?) Adventure. Sure, there are a lot of “fetch quests” here, but the focus on pushing the story forward means that my concentration never fails and news such as Liv’s ability to control certain objects with the help of thinking power and a new, wrist-mounted small buffer, makes this feel like a natural development of the basic concept. Basically, these two games are based on puzzle solving in limited 3D spaces where you use zero gravity and some tools to puzzle and solve object-based puzzles in VR, and as I mentioned above, most things work really brilliantly. The story itself is exciting and well written and there is absolutely no doubt that the voice acting from Alice Coulthard (Liv) and Troy Baker (Jack) is spotless. Absolutely absolutely brilliant, straight through.
Brilliant voice acting, however, is not very much to hang in the tree and the script itself is rotten, which, as I said, is never a problem in this adventure, whose dialogues often enchant on the simplest of premises. I love sitting with the Qculus helmet rubbing my head and just drinking in the conversations between Echo One and Olivia and it’s great to see how much better Ready at Dawn has become in the script work itself if you put this game next to, for example, The Order 1886.
Even though the VR hysteria has really subsided in the last 18 months and even though this is the last Oculus-exclusive big game from Facebook, it is nevertheless sad that Ready at Dawn has not received more praise and especially attention for these two puzzle-based adventures . I like Lone Echo more than I like Lone Echo II but with that said, this is a nice, dignified sequel with great characters and wonderful atmosphere.