Horror games are often at their most frightening when it’s just the player listening to the ambient sounds in a dark room. The sound of distant footsteps, a strange crunching, or a steady drip in an empty room carries a promise of menace that makes the loneliness almost impossible to bear, making the player beg for the monster to appear to end the tension of waiting. RAC7 Games’ Dark Echo strips that experience down, leaving the player in absolute darkness with only sound to guide them.
Created by fleshing out a Ludum Dare entry based around the theme of “You Must Escape,” Dark Echo gets players to use sound waves to figure out the shape of the environment and how to get around it. Players can watch the sound of their footsteps pinging off of the walls in a minimalist visual style, learning the shape of the environment and what it contains with noise. The player isn’t alone in these halls, though, and the game colors the various other sounds, from drops of water to the snarling of the lurking creatures, in different shades to help tell them apart. The monsters are hunting for the player with the sounds as well, and every little line of noise that fires off from the player’s footsteps is another lure that’s drawing something right back to them. Players will need a fine tuned ear to guide them through the varied environments across eighty stages, working carefully to make sure the hidden horrors don’t catch the sound of them tiptoeing through the shadows.