It's clever in more than one way: Sure, Dark Echo's perceived reliance on sound is a pretty unique — if not completely original — way to approach the horror game genre. This visually simple game is different from most of the other games you'll see on the App Store. But the game isn't something you should play just because it's all audio and no graphics — it's also a pretty challenging puzzle game.
The first challenge, of course, is navigating your way through space without being able to ever see a complete picture of the world you're in. You can see snapshots of where you're standing, thanks to your echolocation, but you can't see what's coming up or what's coming from behind. You're basically running blind through hallways with your arms out.
The second challenge, however, is figuring out how to solve puzzles while running blind through hallways with your arms out. For example, in one of the earlier levels you will find that water — blue lines — slows you down significantly. However, it doesn't slow down the evil things — red lines — that are chasing you. So in order to trudge your way successfully through a river (or something), you'll first need to distract the evil thing by getting it to chase you into a dark corner. Oh, by the way — in this game, you can tiptoe by quickly tapping the screen. Tiptoes let you pass evil things undetected, but they also don't give you a great picture of the world around you (because the sound you're producing is so small).
There are plenty of other challenges throughout the game's 80 levels, and you'll have plenty of close calls (and deaths) before you figure them all out.
It's irrationally scary: You wouldn't think that a game that never even gives you a hint of what the bad guy looks like could be scary. But you're wrong: Dark Echo is one of the creepiest games I've played, and I can't even tell you if the evil things chasing me are zombies or monsters or serial killers.
The game uses its soundtrack to thoroughly creep you out, and then relies on your imagination, which is far more creative than fancy graphics, to scare you the rest of the way. In a way, Dark Echo is all about imagination — after all, there are no actual walls in Dark Echo, and you're simply inferring them from the way your visual sound bounces around. Trust me, though, this game is dark (literally and figuratively).
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