Echoes is Ravensburger's collection of audio mysteries. The Microchip isn’t a whodunnit mystery but rather an explorative science fiction narrative. As you listen to the clues you must uncover how modern society ceased to be and also decide if you would have made the same choice. At the end you can also view your stats; how long it took and number of wrong tries. So, if you do share this adventure with a friend you can create a sense of competition.
Organising The Clues
The setup to this mystery is quick and easy. In the box there are 24 cards. 6 of these are chapter cards and the rest are item cards. To begin, all chapter cards are laid out. Then 9 item cards are placed on the table leaving the rest, with a star symbol, in the box. If you want an added challenge, you can place all cards on the table at once. Otherwise, the 9 in the box will come into play once you have solved those on the table. This makes solving the first 3 chapters a little less overwhelming.
Next download the free Echoes companion app and select the game from the menu. Once downloaded, you won’t need the internet to play. Then you’re ready to jump straight into the story.
Echoes Of The Past
Your objective in Echoes is to match 3 items to each chapter and assemble them in the correct order. This means you have to listen to each audio clip and figure out which chapter they belong to and how they follow on from one another. You find audio clips by scanning each card with the app.
In isolation these clues can be difficult to decipher but once you have listened to a few you can begin to piece a story together. By listening to background noises such as footsteps, calls and computer voices you can find subtle patterns in the audio. It is worth noting that some clues have breaks in them, so they don’t always follow on from one another. When your confident, you can put the app into solve mode and see if your hunch is correct. When you have the right sequence, the chapter audio will play out and will include new dialogue, building a bigger picture of the mystery.
Once each chapter has been solved, players then have to put all the chapters in the right order. Once this is done, you will then listen to the full mystery from start to finish.
The game gives you the option to play in easy mode on the app. This option provides more audio clues. Furthermore, if you get the sequence wrong, the app will let you know how many cards are incorrect. It will also let you know if the cards are in the wrong chapter or just the incorrect order.
The Case Of Ramla Adan
The Microchip is your stereotypical apocalyptic storyline. Players take on the role of a person who currently lives in a tribe in a post-apocalyptic setting. After stumbling across a ruin they use their gift of being able to hear remnants of the past to discover how the end of modern society came about. Each item in the room relates to scientist, Ramla Adan, and adds a new piece to the narrative. There are a few twists and turns but nothing overly complex.
The voice acting throughout is solid, each character is easily distinguishable, and you can understand what is being said at all times. The background audio is clear, and you can listen to computers, sounds of the jungle, and you can hear pens being used on a whiteboard.
Each chapter and item card are well designed, and pictures match the era of the mystery. The visual element helps match up the audio and they provide their own set of clues. It’s a nice package of well created content.
Overall, I enjoyed my time solving The Microchip. After playing another in this series, The Cocktail, I was familiar with the format. I much preferred the story and themes in this Echoes game. I found it more engaging and I liked that it felt like an interactive story. Instead of a whodunnit we were presented with a philosophical dilemma which I thought was a fun twist and a good conversation starter, if playing with others. That being said, if you love science fiction stories, like I do, the story in The Microchip may seem generic and unsurprising.
Last time I played an Echoes game, I played it at the max player count. This time I tackled it alone. I much preferred the game in solo mode as I could concentrate on all the clues and work through it at my own pace. It was easier to match things up as I had control over all decisions and elements. It is fun to discuss the game’s theme as a group, but it was a more streamlined experience solo. The Microchip’s small box makes it easy to transport and its playable anywhere. I enjoyed this one on a lazy Sunday in bed with a cup of coffee and a croissant. It was relaxing to crack open a mystery and start the day. Even though the game is one use; you can pass it on to others and give it an extra lease of life. None of the components need to be damaged when playing so this is the perfect game to regift. The main drawback with The Microchip is its short runtime and lack of challenge. This game only took me 30 minutes and I chose to make it harder by having all the cards out at once. The challenge is minimal as all you need to do is put the audio files in the correct order. There are no other puzzles to solve or nuances to sink your teeth into.
Furthermore, the game doesn’t include subtitles, so it isn’t accessible for those hard of hearing. As the game requires a mobile device to play this can cause difficulties for those who don’t have specified devices.
Other than these small issues, the game is reasonably priced for what's on offer. It is a unique mystery experience which is fun to sit down and play. Anyone can pick this up and have a go at solving it. Listening to the story makes it feel less static as you can hear the people and places in the mystery. The puzzle elements are less dynamic than other packages out there, but The Microchip has everything you need to satiate that mystery craving.