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Echo: A Stealth Game Unlike Any Other?

These A.I Remember Everything…

Stealth is a tricky genre to master. Sometimes you get Metal Gear Solid, other times you get…well, everything else. But it seems the developers of Hitman are playing around with something new for their upcoming project Echo.

When we hear about improvements to A.I enemies in other games, most of the time it just means the difficulty spike has been raised slightly higher  and they can spot you far more easily. With Echo, it seems that the developers are pushing for something a little different; the A.I remember your every action.

According to an in-depth article on IGN

At first glance Echo, a third-person stealth game from some of the developers behind Hitman, seems straightforward enough: You sneak around choking out patrols while trying to covertly complete an objective. But when I asked game director Martin Emborg about why every enemy looks like you and what the deal with this beautiful white mansion we were sneaking around was, it became clear there’s more going on than just another stealth game.

The clearest twist from the classic Hitman formula shown so far is the way its enemies learn from your actions. Whenever you do anything – vaulting walls, killing guards, or even just stopping to eat a grape – it’s logged and remembered by the AI. After you do enough actions, the room goes dark, all the enemies are rebooted, and they learn know how to do whatever you’ve done since the last blackout.

It’s a clever mechanic that rewards cautious play. You don’t want to blow all your good moves (like an insta-kill pistol) in one go, because then your enemies will be just as strong as you were after the blackout. You can also prime the AI to be worse in whatever area of the level you know you’re heading to next – for example, avoiding water for a round will mean your enemies don’t know how to traverse it in the next one, which can be helpful to plan for in areas boxed in by pools.

It’s a very cool and interesting twist on stealth games, But Emborg tells me story – which we’ve so far seen very little of – is just as important as Echo’s tricky stealth mechanics. He told me that he thinks some games nowadays push players into their ‘core gameplay loop’ too quickly, not taking enough time to set up the world and ease players into the story.

It’s one thing to boast a deep and enriching story, but to also try to revolutionise the mechanics and the approach to stealth games at the same time is quite the claim. Here’s hoping we don’t have another Attack of the Clones on our hands…

You can check out the demo for Echo below.