Back when I installed Revive to play Oculus exclusive games, I played Lone Echo and loved it. Ever since completing the first, I’ve waited for Lone Echo 2 to finish the story. It was still a very familiar experience, but added enough new content, good story and game mechanics to increase my enjoyment compared to the first game. I feel like the length, so far, hits the sweet spot compared to the first.
Lone Echo 2 Bigger Story and Better Graphics
The first game left off with quite the time travel cliffhanger, so I was really looking forward to continue the story. Both Lone Echo games introduce Jack as the Echo One android, player controlled, character. He’s fully voiced with dialog prompts that provide some agency of what he says. I’m not a fan of silent protagonist.
His loyal Captain, Olivia “Liv” Rhodes, also returns. Her facial animations were fantastic in Lone Echo and even better in this Lone Echo 2. Overall, the graphics are fantastic inside and outside of space facilities. I never tire of the particle effects of the airlocks and holographic displays.
I’m enjoying the new story with a great mix of time travel, Sci Fi research, alien infections, a disgruntled lab partner and a plan to save the universe. It was nice to meet new characters like Dr. Harlan and his holographic AI companion, Juno.
Dr. Harland is very grumpy and a little too soft spoken for my taste, but his character has an interesting backstory. Juno is almost like a super smart pet that talks. She definitely outshines Dr. Harland.
The first hour Lone Echo 2 of so was fairly closed off, but the anticipation added to the wow moment when I finally let loose in open space. Exploration is more enjoyable in this game and I really liked playing with all the prototypes in the Research facility. The game space felt larger and I was in awe at moments.
New Interactions and Game Mechanics
Some people complain about the simple mechanics in Lone Echo 2 (fetch this, press a button, pull a lever, etc.), but it’s magic in VR. Maybe I just enjoy the simple things, but I enjoy pressing buttons, pushing or pulling my way through zero G, pulling levers, using the cutting tool to open access panels, pushing a non existent button on my helmet to activate the headlamp, etc..
It’s hard to not feel part of a Sci Fi movie with all those tasks in VR. Those interactions add to the experience and immersion. The cutter and interface scanner return from the first Lone Echo, but upgrades are available to extend their reach. Along my journey, I picked up additional tools like a projection gun to push items at a distance (like radioactive warheads) and a tool to camouflage energy sources (including my own) from active Biomass.
To upgrade and acquire those tools, scanning is back, but a lot more fun than the first game. I truly hated hunting down Lone Echo’s cube sats. Lone Echo II offers more variety of things to scan and actual purpose behind them. The more out of the way and hidden items to scan is, the more data to unlock upgrades or help find a cure for the biomass.
All the new tools help get around the new biomass forms I encountered in Lone Echo 2. They add new challenges and puzzles. The new tools, scanning variety and biomass types add refreshing new content. It all adds to what feels like a more complete game than the first.
One Step Forward, Two Steps Back
Lone Echo 2 is a beautiful game with a good sci fi story. It’s a shame Oculus games won’t look this good again for awhile. It’s also quite possible I won’t be able to play another Oculus exclusive with Facebook’s (ugh Meta is somehow worse) move to Quest only games.
Since Lone Echo’s developer, Ready at Dawn, is now owned by Meta, there’s little change I’ll get to play any of their future games on a SteamVR headset.
For VR adoption rate, it’s great news future Oculus games are playable to the masses directly on a Quest headset, but the graphics are a step back compared to PCVR games. Sure freedom of movement is great and the low cost of entry, but the Half Life Alyx and Lone Echo 2 tier graphics are hard to beat.
Oculus dropped PCVR games, Facebook becomes Meta and even the Oculus name is going into the trash. Meta Quest might sound cool to a pasty white android like Mark Zuckerberg, but it’s not the same and I’m not even an Oculus fanboy.