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Lost and Found - KickBack Studios Shines a Light on Lost Echo

Posted by Rob Rich on August 5th, 2013

The semi-futuristic story of Greg's search for his missing girlfriend Chloe has been a long time coming, but after two years in the making Lost Echo is finally on its way to the App Store. Soon players will be able to lead Greg through a number of different 3D environments as he tries to figure out where Chloe disappeared to, and why no one else seems to think she ever existed. We asked Nick Konstantoglou and Vagelis Antonopoulos of KickBack Studios to tell us a little bit more about their long-running (and intriguing) project.

148Apps: Lost Echo looks quite striking. What were some of your inspirations for its visual style?
Nick Konstantoglou and Vagelis Antonopoulos (NK/VA): Thank you! We have a background in Architectural Visualization, so we knew we would put emphasis on lighting. That's central to the style. We might have broken some kind of record for the amount of time we spent baking and tweaking lightmaps for an iOS game. We also researched a lot of modern architecture. For example the park (which is featured a lot in the trailer) is partly inspired by the HighLine park in New York. We went through quite a few iterations until we recognized the elements that fit the world we imagined. We wanted a world that looked slightly futuristic but realistic enough that it's believable. There are also some shapes that are repeated throughout the game for story reasons (although it's quite subtle).

148Apps: I also noticed that Lost Echo is supposed to work with older iOS devices, going all the way back to the iPhone 3GS. How in the heck did you manage that?
NK/VA: We started making the game 2 years ago. Supporting 3GS back then was normal and expected. But since this is our first game, we failed where all new developers fail. Planning! This was supposed to be a smaller project, but we started adding features and then it became something more ambitious. All rookie mistakes, we know how to plan things better now. Although since we didn't give up and actually finished the game it was probably a good thing! So we kept the 3gs support in. We added a bit more to the graphics later on as time went by and we considered dropping the support for older devices at some point, but then we found that keeping it wasn't that hard. After we had written the shaders to perform within our expectation and with some self control with the polycounts, getting it to run nicely on older devices was not that hard. Unity being a great engine helps as well.

148Apps: Were there any particular point-and-click games or series that you were keeping in mind while you were developing Lost Echo?
NK/VA: Well, not really. We love all the classics, for example Monkey Island. They are parts of our childhood and they are great games. They also have some elements that are very outdated now. But there is some of that old-school adventure spirit in our game. More recently we played a lot of Phoenix Wright. We can't say we kept it in mind during development, but we did note how the dialogue presentation was great for smaller screens, very readable, and the variable text speeds gave it a lot of character.

148Apps: Should players expect traditional, item-centric puzzles (i.e. Monkey Island) or more self-contained head scratchers (i.e. Myst)? Possibly some sort of combination of the two?
NK/VA: A combination. There are item puzzles, dialogue based puzzles, and self contained puzzles/minigames. We wanted variation in our game and there are slight shifts in style throughout the game, to keep things interesting.

148Apps: Is Lost Echo going to be a self-contained adventure or were you thinking of adding episodes/chapters later on?
NK/VA: We are... not sure. There is definitely room for more stories, but the story arc that starts with this game, ends with this game. You have to understand, this is our first game and we didn't (well, still don't) know what kind of reception we would get, so we didn't want to plan to make, say, 3 episodes/games and then be unable to make more than one. It's also a pretty big game, much larger than the average episodic game and it took us a long time to develop. We'll say this though, we would love to add a bit more to this game. We do have a small story that serves as a prequel to the game that we would love to add it to the game. But to be able to do that it will mean that the game will sell "well enough".

We really appreciate Nick and Vagelis taking the time to answer our questions, and we're looking forward to figuring out what happened to Chloe ourselves. Adventure game fans and lovers of psychological thrillers can check out Lost Echo when it's released later this month for $2.99

Prince of Persia The Shadow and the Flame Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Rob Rich on July 29th, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: SEQUELICIOUS
The Prince of Persia series gets yet another modernized port, and the App Store is all the better for it.
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A Ride into the Mountains Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Rob Rich on July 26th, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: A LONELY
As understated as just about every aspect of A Ride into the Mountains might be, everything comes together to craft a truly impressive experience.
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BLOODMASQUE Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Rob Rich on July 25th, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: A VAMPIRIC FACE-OFF
The option to add a custom photo face to the main character in BLOODMASQUE is a total gimmick, but the game said gimmick is attached to is actually pretty cool.
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Leisure Suit Larry: Reloaded Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Rob Rich on July 19th, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: LOUNGE AGAINST THE MACHINE
Larry Laffer's innuendo-laden exploits haven't been worth talking about for years, but Replay Games is about to change that.
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Deus Ex: The Fall Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Rob Rich on July 15th, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: GIVE ME DEUS EX
Deus Ex: The Fall goes to great lengths to lovingly recreate the same cybernetic corporate espionage experience of the console original, however it doesn't entirely shake that mobile game feeling.
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Tiny Thief Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Rob Rich on July 11th, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: STEALS THE SHOW
There's a lot to love in this clever and adorable point-and-click puzzler.
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Layton Brothers Mystery Room Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Rob Rich on July 1st, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: A DETECTIVE PAR EXCELLENCE
Level-5's newest Layton adventure is a bit of a departure from the norm but it's still pretty darn cool.
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Hero of Many Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Rob Rich on June 26th, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: SWIM TOWARDS THE LIGHT
Guide a tiny school of fish to safety in this beautiful and surreal adventure.
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Home Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Rob Rich on June 24th, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: BROKEN HOME
Home is a deeply disturbing horror game that, unfortunately, loses a lot of its momentum due to some pretty severe bugs.
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Ace Attorney: Phoenix Wright Trilogy HD Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Rob Rich on June 3rd, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: TAKE THAT!
The first three Phoenix Wright games have made their way to iOS with sharper visuals and a reworked UI. No more excuses.
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Emily in Darkness Review

iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
By Rob Rich on May 6th, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: A LITTLE DIM
Emily in Darkness looks like a dark and disturbing adventure, but some bad translation ruins a lot of the mystique.
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Random Heroes 2 Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Rob Rich on May 3rd, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: WHAT A DIFFERENCE AN AIM MAKES
Random Heroes 2 includes more weapons, more levels, and otherwise trumps the original in every conceivable way.
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SurvivalCraft Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Rob Rich on May 3rd, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: YES AND NO
This open world sandbox crafting game with obvious inspirations doesn't win any awards for originality, but it still manages to incorporate features that are missing from the original.
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City of Secrets 2 Episode 1 Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
By Rob Rich on May 1st, 2013
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: SWEET BUT TOO SHORT
City of Secrets 2 Episode 1 is quite the enjoyable adventure but it's over before it really gets started.
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