Many horror games rely on jump scares and creepy atmosphere, but the stealth/horror/puzzle hybrid Dark Echo takes a different approach, instead conjuring horror from the unknown and unseen, through minimalist visuals and immersive audio.
While other mobile games like Papa Sangre and The Nightjar have delivered gameplay through sound, Dark Echo melds visuals with sound; every level starts out with a black screen, your white footprints the only color amid the surrounding dark. Move forward and lines emanate in all directions, the sound of your footsteps visualized, bouncing off the walls and revealing the environment. Without sound, you are blind. Your goal is simply to find the exit. However, you are not alone in these passages. Things lurk in the darkness, drawn by the sound of your movement, hunting you.
With each step taken - either fast footfalls, light taps, or loud stomps - or stone thrown to distract the creatures stalking you, Dark Echo reveals itself to be a tense game of cat and mouse where sound is your only means of sight. Water that amplifies your footsteps and slows your movement, switches, crushing walls, deadly terrain, and more add to the challenge and complexity of later levels. The visuals - stark lines contrasting against black - are simplistic yet work surprisingly well in representig the world and its dangersz But it's the sound design that truly sells the game's atmosphere: your footsteps, hollow against stone and squishing against undergrowth; the guttural growls of unseen monsters. water splashing underfoot and dripping overhead, agitated flies, the groan of heavy doors.