Echo Generation: Midnight Edition Review - Screenshot 1 of 4
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

Developer Cococucumber has established itself as a dependable indie studio over the past few years. Specialising in accessible throwbacks, it adds a fresh spin on old genre formats. Although its latest title Ravenlok is (pun intended) locked away behind Xbox exclusivity, Switch owners can finally try the second in the dev's self-styled ‘Voxel Trilogy’ - Echo Generation.

A nostalgic and charmingly funny adventure/RPG hybrid, it takes the beautiful voxel style of the developer's 2019 title Riverbond, and applies it to the bizarre summer holiday of a group of suburban kids. Tipping a hat to the point-and-click classics of Ron Gilbert and Tim Schafer, there's also more than a little reminder of EarthBound in its creepy view of suburbia.

Set during the '90s in the small town of Maple Valley and its surrounding environs, the story starts similar to a Pokémon title. Our protagonist (chosen from a collection of preset templates) emerges from a cluttered bedroom, greets their mother, and begins to investigate the neighbourhood. Picking up a task to grab a traffic cone for their precocious sister, they proceed to wander down a pretty normal street and…wait, did that dog just talk? Why am I being verbally abused by a group of raccoons?

Echo Generation: Midnight Edition Review - Screenshot 2 of 4
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

As you tick more tasks off your journal and push further into town, things get progressively weirder. Missing children, a serial killer on the loose, a crashed spaceship in a cornfield. The obvious comparison to make is Stranger Things, but a more apt description would be Amblin Entertainment via David Lynch. Writing is sharp and genuinely funny, the fantastical elements play well with the comedic banter of your party and the oddball characters they interact with.

As solid as the story is, it's the distinctive visual style that’s the big draw: voxel-powered environments that look like lovingly crafted dioramas; animations of blocky characters and enemies that look fluid in and out of battle. The frame rate is noticeably smoother when undocked, with the models looking more at home on a smaller screen. That said, despite a slight stutter, Maple Valley and its denizens still look good on a bigger canvas. This look isn't new, in fact, it's a common conceit in many indie titles nowadays, yet it still impresses as a canvas to paint some familiar genre motions on.

Echo Generation: Midnight Edition Review - Screenshot 3 of 4
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

Where Echo Generation falters is in its blend of adventure game mechanics and RPG elements. It doesn’t excel in either, sticking close to the formula rather than trying to be different. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s just that there are no motions here that you haven't been through countless times before.

Goals take the form of fetch quests, items to find and bring to a certain character to unlock another area and progress the story. This involves trudging back and forth between areas, your journey blighted by a broad collection of monsters and extraterrestrials. It’s never difficult to figure out where to go next, but nothing is engaging about the core loop.

Combat is turn-based, and will bring back fond memories of the Mario & Luigi series. Attack potency depends on the precise timing of a button prompt, with special skills throwing in further input variation. These range from easily timed presses, to wobbling target reticules and ranged meters. The more complex skills test your reactions under pressure, some of them frustratingly so. Defence can also be augmented with similar inputs, making for a battle system that, while simplistic, keeps you on your toes.

Echo Generation: Midnight Edition Review - Screenshot 4 of 4
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

Your party is made up of the protagonist and their sister, with a menagerie of critters to choose from, filling a third slot. There’s a decent enemy variety, with bad-mouthed raccoons escalating to status-effect-dealing alien robots, psychotic headmasters, and screen-filling bosses. Those bosses are intimidating nightmares that require you to master unique defence mechanics.

For a game that mostly plays like an entry-level RPG, there's a fair bit of grinding required. New areas, as well as those aforementioned boss fights, require you to repeat some battles to comfortably face the coming threats. This is compounded by the fact that the party's supporting companions often feel weak until they get some useful skills in the mid-late game. Meowsy the cat is the first to join the siblings, yet by the time he arrives we are facing enemies that could easily one-shot him.

Difficulty spikes and dull progression aside, Echo Generation goes a long way with its visuals and great atmosphere, and there's always something around the corner that derails the light-hearted tone in favor of abject horror. After arriving in the Downtown area, you’ll help an old lady across the road, visit a colourful video store and explore a trendy Boba Tea shop. Right after this, you sneak into the closed high school and have a terrifying boss encounter with the ‘Prom Queen’. The game is filled with standout, contrasting moments like this that elevate it above its mechanical shortcomings.


Echo Generation is a fun homage to several different flavours of genre greats. An exceptional aesthetic and sound design balances the eerie with the nostalgic well, and good writing goes some way to making up for dull mechanics and lacklustre progression.