Base price: $10.
1 – 6 players.
Play time: ~60 minutes.
BGG | Board Game Atlas
Buy on Amazon (via What’s Eric Playing?)
Logged plays: 1
Full disclosure: A review copy of Echoes: The Cocktail was provided by Ravensburger.
As I’ve said elsewhere, it’s always fun to try out a new series. Currently, in an effort to recover some of my buffer, I’ve been fortunate enough to get some more of my mystery box / escape room games to the table to try them out. It’s been really nice! A few of those reviews will becoming in the next few weeks, with hopefully more in the near future. Some are a bit “Status Unknown”, as these things tend to be. Plus, expecting a few more games will arrive between now and Summer Con Season, so, get excited. In the meantime, let’s try out one of the first games in Ravensburger’s new Echoes series: The Cocktail!
In The Cocktail, the weirdest thing has just happened. A major raid was set to go down on an illegal bar, but everyone (including the bar’s enigmatic and mysterious leader) is gone! They had their inside source, they were all set, and then, unfortunately, it all fell apart. So they came to you. Your skill is being able to read the echoes of certain objects and hear what happened to them last. So they’ve come to you to decipher what happened and where they went so they can shut down this bar and its various criminals before it’s too late. Also, you’ll have to answer the ultimate question. Just who is their boss, Cruel Steve?
Not a whole lot going on, here. You can set out the Chapter Tiles in any order:
You can set aside the star-backed cards for later:
The other cards can be placed face-up in any order:
Once you’ve done that, make sure you’ve downloaded the Echoes app, and you should be ready to start! Download the app and start the prologue.
You’re here to solve a mystery! So your Whole Thing is that touching an object allows you to hear its echo, or a remnant of the sounds that were heard around that object earlier in time. Cool ability, perfect for solving crimes.
Your goal is to figure out what happened! You can do that by completing six key Chapters of the game. Each Chapter is represented by a set of cards, but the cards are all out of order! The only way to get them back together is to use your power. For you, the player, this means you can use … your phone! The Echoes app allows you to scan each Chapter Tile and card, and upon scanning them, they’ll play a short audio clip.
As you collect audio clips you’ll start to notice: they fit together! Each Chapter has precisely three cards that, when put in the correct order, complete it. When you’re ready to piece a Chapter together, use the “Solve” tab, rather than the “Listen” tab. If you’re right, you’ve completed the Chapter! After completing three Chapters, flip over the remaining cards and try to finish the story.
Once you’ve completed the story, listen to the whole thing, and then the epilogue!
Player Count Differences
Honestly, I’m a bit vexed by the 1 – 6 player count of this game. The game is, fundamentally, about listening to audio cues and trying to match them up, and you’re usually handling about twelve items, tops, organizing them together. You generally want players on the same side of the table so that they can see the phone and help manipulate stuff, and fewer players generally helps, since then you have less table noise to distract from the audio feeds. I’m really just not sure what there is to … do for players 3 / 4 / 5 / 6, in this. There just aren’t that many pieces to manipulate or audio feeds to solve. I suppose you could have multiple phones, but then the audio overlap would be awful. Like, awful to the point that I think that’s a bad idea. I’d probably recommend Echoes: The Cocktail with two players, maximum; honestly, I’d just as soon play it with one.
- Listen closely! It’s how you solve problems. Your goal is to identify where the different audio pieces hook together, so make sure you’re paying close attention.
- Try to identify audio bookends. There are going to be places where the recording drops off and the next one picks up. Try to listen for that connective tissue! It’ll help you identify what the correct ordering of the audio pieces is.
- Listen for context clues or speakers. One super helpful tip is to try and listen for objects being used (or broken) or speakers (or the people they’re talking to). Following the patterns and ordering of a conversation can help identify where everything fits together (and the overall direction of the narrative). Sometimes characters will explicitly name other characters they’re talking to, which helps a lot.
- Don’t necessarily rely on the items to be visually related to other items. The items are usually included in the scene, to some degree (occasionally less so for the chapter markers), but you shouldn’t necessarily determine that because X item and Y item are related, they must be part of the same chapter. It can kind of appear that way, granted, but make sure you’re listening fully to the audio clues!
- If you’re not sure, scan again! The audio can be tricky (and it is tricky on purpose, at times), so it’s best to get a good sense. You can even take notes if you want or discuss it with the other players, if you find that helpful. Having everyone listen and offer theories also ensures that everyone’s participating.
- There’s no penalty for being wrong, so don’t worry about using the “Solve” and not being right. I wouldn’t recommend using that to brute-force a solution (it takes a while to scan everything), but don’t worry about inputting something that ends up being wrong. It won’t count against you or anything; it’ll usually tell you how many of the clues actually belong to that Chapter.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- Very easy to set up, which is nice. You only need to lay out the Chapter Tiles and the nine non-starred cards and you’re ready to go! It’s super easy, and I appreciate that.
- I like that there are variable difficulty modes. You can go with the standard difficulty, as normal, you can lay out more (or all) of the cards to increase the difficulty (by adding more cards into the mix). If you want an easier game, you can set the app to Easy, which will give you more hints if you have trouble with the Solve. I like that these modes exist for players, especially given that the audio itself can be a bit challenging to track.
- I actually liked the story of this mystery game quite a bit! It was fun! A little crimey, but that’s Prohibition, for you. I thought it was a solid story, especially listening to it from beginning to end.
- I also like that, as you solve chapters, it lets you listen to the entire chapter plus some extra content. It helps evolve the story a good amount, and the extra context does a nice job of tying the chapter to the larger story as a whole. I really like that you can listen to the entire story before the Epilogue, when you solve the case.
- This is a really interesting concept. I mean, at its core, it’s a puzzle; it just happens to be a puzzle where the exact contours of the pieces are unknown. They’re defined by their audio components, rather than physical shapes, and you have to listen and re-listen to figure out how they piece together. It’s an auditory puzzle along a temporal axis, and that’s neat.
- Very portable little game, too. Probably works as a travel game. It doesn’t work incredibly as a travel game, since you really can only reliably play it once before you’ve kind of finished with it, but in concept, it can be taken with you.
- I like app-supported games quite a bit; I think they’re fun. Just a neat form of physical-digital interaction, and a fun way to expand beyond just traditional cards when it comes to solving mysteries. It’s kind of interesting that you don’t even really need to have, say, RFID or something to identify the cards. I wonder if that means my photos are scannable? Something to look into once I’ve taken them.
- I appreciate that this game is reusable. I always feel a bit bad getting rid of the single-play mystery games. Now, I can at least pass this one on to someone else who might enjoy it (or include it in the charity raffle). Always nice for a game to get a new loving home.
- It’s actually surprisingly difficult to keep distinct audio cues in your brain as like, puzzle memories. I suppose that’s part of the challenge, but it’s certainly interesting. I wouldn’t call it bad, in the slightest, but it’s an interesting puzzle. My brain doesn’t do a great job retaining the audio information between listens, which is kind of fun. I imagine it’s partially because I’ve never really tried this type of puzzle before, but still, I find it particularly vexing.
- The conceit of the game is a little goofy, but that makes me laugh. I guess you’re some kind of clairvoyant who can hear random echoes off of items you touch? My entire reaction is sure, I guess, but it’s kind of goofy.
- The obvious accessibility problems are there, but I’m surprised the app doesn’t at least have captions of some kind. I wonder if they felt that subtitles would give away the mystery or make it less fun? I’m not sure, but it does make the game kind of unplayable if you can’t hear the audio (which is a bit unsurprising). Having some subtitles would be nice.
Overall: 7.5 / 10
Overall, I liked Echoes: The Cocktail! I think the series is a really interesting one, just because it seems to combine those sorts of audio mystery puzzles that I remember my parents being into with a more app-supported card and tile-organizing game. It’s cool! The art style is also pretty nice; it’s a striking cover, to say the least, and the color scheme on the cards and tiles is pretty cool, too. The game plays at a pretty good place, though, frankly, I don’t really see this as usefully working at more than two players. One player needs to be holding the phone at any given time, and if you have an extra two players on top of that, I’m not really sure what the second does. I can’t really imagine playing this with six; I feel like the extra noise will actually make the puzzle harder to solve. But I liked Echoes: The Cocktail! It’s a neat and novel type of mystery game, and I’m looking forward to trying some of the other games in the series, eventually. If you enjoy a good mystery, want to solve an audio puzzle, or enjoy app-based games, you might enjoy Echoes: The Cocktail! I thought it was a good time.
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