Yes, I admit it. Even today, when I sit in front of the computer to program, I often play The Three ???, Five Friends, TKKG or the adventure series by Enid Blyton. Since my childhood, audio books accompany me through the day - they offer the possibility to dive into another world for a short time. With echoes, Ravensburger has now released the first episodes of a game series that the publisher calls an audio mystery game. In it, we act as investigators who have the ability to hear echoes of the past. Using various audio fragments, we try to sort out and solve the mysterious story. This mixture of board game and audio game wanted to be tested by me directly by me. Recommended are the three parts published so far in Germany for one to six players from fourteen years.
Start into the adventure
Each small box contains six thick chapter cards and eighteen object cards, in addition to the game instructions. Nine cards have a diamond-like marking on the back. These cards are set aside for the time being. All other cards are placed on the table in any order. After downloading the app and selecting the story, you're ready to go.
Ears pricked up
The prologue gives the players an atmospheric introduction to the adventure ahead. Now it's time to listen carefully, because the task is to assign three object cards to each of the object panels in the correct order. The chapter cards and object cards together form a chapter. By scanning the cards with the app, sometimes only a sound or a snippet of a conversation matching the illustration is played. The control via the app is very intuitive. There are only two options in the game:
- Listen - as soon as the players scan a card, the corresponding audio fragment is played.
- Solve - players must first scan the chapter card and then the three corresponding object cards in the correct order
If the wrong cards are scanned when trying to solve the problem, or if the cards are not in the right order, the app gives helpful suggestions on what could be changed. If in doubt, the cards and also solved chapters should be listened to again more closely.
Whenever a chapter has been solved successfully, it can be listened to completely. At this point, you will not only hear the beginning of the chapter and the three other objects, but also a part of the story that contains further clues to the other chapters. Once all the cards have been correctly assigned, the chapters have to be put in the right order once again. Thematically, the titles released so far take us into completely different worlds:
The first part of the series is about a Scottish country house that has been empty since 1928. Sandra and Harry Fincher bought the house. A few nights after moving in, they hear strange noises and music coming from a room and the attic. Is the house really haunted by the ghost of a young girl?
The second part takes us to New York at the time of Prohibition. An illegal bar has become the meeting place of the New York underworld. A bartender of the bar, who worked as an informant for the police, was found shot dead. Will we succeed in catching the notorious Mafia boss Steve Manchetti?
And ahead of us - the dystopia. The third part of the echoes series is set in a bleak future. While the world outside lies in ruins, we discovered a place by chance some time ago that gives us clues as to how the catastrophe that drove the world into darkness came about.
With echoes, Ravensburger Verlag has launched an interesting game series that manages to combine board or card game, app and audio game. Unlike many other games, the objects are not recognized via a QR code, but it works flawlessly (at least via the iPhone). Game material, app and audio sequences are produced in a very high quality and leave nothing to be desired. The individual audio sequences give players enough options to solve the case in the 60 minutes. If you want to start with a higher level of difficulty, you can lay out all the cards at the beginning. Thematically, the parts that have been released so far are completely different. Because of the mood and the story I liked the first part The Dancer best.
I found it a pity that there is no possibility to listen to the whole story in one piece. After you have found the solution, this should not be a problem technically. At this point the publisher should urgently improve. The individual stories were a bit too short for my taste - here you should not expect a complete radio play by far. The age limit of 14 years is quite justified. Not because the stories are too scary or brutal, but the attention span required tempts younger kids to just try the solutions without listening carefully to all the details of the individual cards. Another little tip: if you connect your smartphone to an external speaker, you'll get more out of the story and details like background noise won't be lost - especially if there are multiple players at the table.
Overall, the parts of the echoes series are entertaining but atmospheric puzzle fun that also works very well solo. The only question left is for the publisher: when will we hear new echoes?