There Came an Echo: Shut up and do it, WeSley

Successfully Kickstarter funded as of 21 March with $115,569 raised when there was only a goal of $90,000, this voice-controlled, squad-based bout of isometric tactical warfare is already looking mightily impressive for two key reasons. Firstly, it actually seems to function perfectly well and so units actually do what’s asked of them when instructions are given over a microphone. Secondly, thanks to the customisation options, it might well be the only game ever made in which you can instruct Wil Wheaton to “Man the f**k up!”

We’ve heard the Star Trek: The Next Generation legend in games before, of course. He played Robin in DC Universe Online, did some work on Rainbow Six: Lockdown and acted as an alien in Grand Theft Auto IV to name just a few titles that have featured someone who sounded a bit like an older version of Starfleet’s whiny teen heartthrob Wesley Crusher. In There Came An Echo he plays a cryptographer named Corrin and, while the game is about people with guns fighting other similarly armed people, he’s not playing someone with any real military experience. He’s playing a rookie and we’re really looking forward to ordering him to activate his personal shield by barking at him one of an infinite number of belittling commands we can create. It’s been a dream for a while.

Other famous names will also be featuring, but since Ashly Burch (Tiny Tina in Borderlands 2), Yuri Lowenthal (Ben 10 in Ben 10: Omniverse), Laura Bailey (a female voice for The President in Saints Row IV), Karen Strassman (the menu in Earth Defense Force 2017), Rachel Robinson (Oerba Yun Fang in Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII) and Cindy Robinson (Detective Anaya in Mass Effect 2) have never uttered the lines with the teenage intensity Wheaton managed when he explained “I’m with Starfleet.

We don’t lie,” in the eighth episode of TNG we’re not quite so eager to bark at them. Music will be provided by “YouTube star” Ronald Jenkees as well as Jimmy Henson, who has provided orchestrated sounds for Mass Effect 2 and COD: Black Ops II, and so sonically everything else is sounding sweet.

So far, however, only one mode has been shown in full voice-controlled action and so while we know that vocal inputs seem to provide a near effortless system with which to tell Corrin’s squad to engage set targets, move to position, split up, change weapons, and even wait to perform an action on your mark only when you later say “mark” we’ve only seen them used in a small room. “All units move to Alpha 4” is perfectly functional if there are only four places anyone can move to, so we’ll have to see how it all comes together when levels are larger and provide more places to duck behind.

Although There Came An Echo will work perfectly well with any form of microphone input, the Xbox One gets a special additional feature should it be connected to a Kinect. You’ve seen the scene that such union can provide before; a special agent is communicating remotely with another and for some reason can only do so by placing one hand to an ear, and that’s exactly how you tell Kinect that you’re giving an order to your troops.

The game will also work without that addition engaged, and can also be controlled by mouse and keyboard (for PCs) and pads (for consoles) but only the Xbox One will enable players to act like an agent of SHIELD. It’s certainly a cute extra, though we can already imagine toggling it off after a few orders go ignored or we eventually grow tired of making ourselves feel superior to Wil Wheaton. Which admittedly could take a while.

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