Echochrome is a puzzle game available through the PlayStation Network where you toy with reality and attempt to navigate optical illusions that are reminiscent of the works of M. C. Escher. Your only influence on the environment takes place by manipulating the camera with the analog stick, which alters the layout of the level according to the current perspective. Regardless of whether you opt for the PlayStation 3 or the PSP version--each of which feature an exclusive set of 56 levels--there is nothing quite like echochrome, and its unique gameplay is well worth the experience.
The goal in each of echochrome's stages is to guide your mannequin through the environment, collecting four echoes scattered throughout the stage. If two distinct pathways appear to be touching when you rotate the camera angle, then they are, in fact, touching. If your mannequin falls through a hole, it will land on whatever appears beneath it. With three minutes to complete each level, echochrome's challenge lies not only in deducing the correct path for the mannequin to follow, but also in thinking and executing quickly. The mannequin never stops moving unless you press the triangle button to pause the action and think, but even then, the clock doesn't stop. To compensate for the fact that the camera angle doesn't turn as quickly as you'd like on some occasions, pressing the square button quickly aligns any adjacent paths so that pixel-perfect accuracy is not a necessity for success. Although the challenge can occasionally become frustrating, the short time requirements make echochrome ideal for quick play sessions.
One of echochrome's distinguishing features is its striking, minimalist visual style. Although simple black-and-white graphics certainly don't compare with most modern games that push the limits of their hardware, echochrome's perfunctory visuals are unique. They are also appropriate in a game that relies on your perception of distance and a constantly changing perspective. The game's music is similarly subdued, and sound effects are limited to the mannequin's footsteps along with a calm female voice that tells you when to begin each stage. The voice also lets out a conciliatory "uh oh" when the mannequin falls through a hole. It is this distinctive presentation that gives echochrome its charm.
The robust level creator extends echochrome's longevity beyond the included levels. In Canvas mode, you have access to the same tools used by the developer to create new levels or modify existing ones. Both the PSP and PS3 versions provide excellent tools to edit and share your creations. However, only the PS3 version lets you upload your levels to the PlayStation Network to share with friends, as well as developers, who may choose to include your stages in future free updates. Setting your preferences to download new stages as they become available automatically incorporates them into Freeform mode. You can also share your PSP levels with friends via a local ad hoc network, but the home-console options are clearly superior.
Echochrome is a unique experience that's easy to recommend. The PS3 game is superior by virtue of its additional online features and sharper visuals, but no matter which version you choose, you won't be disappointed.