echro1.pngThis is 'ECHRO One' of lifeless: ECHRO, the first major game by Cellusious, a respected pixel artist known for his minimalist style and creative use of limited color palettes (full disclosure: I use his art for my blog's background and header). lifeless: ECHRO is an arena-based, single-player bash'em up that boasts a unique control scheme. It's a single-level brawler now, but the game will eventually include roguelike and metroidvania elements. Each arena is randomly populated with enemies, and you have to kill them all to clear the level. If you die, you have to restart. This game is hard, and there's even a mode that starts you with 1 hit point if it's not hard enough for you.

ECHRO revolves around a completely new (as far as I know) game mechanic. This is both an innovative feature and a bit of a hurdle to those approaching the game for the first time. So, as simple as it is to grasp, it might take some getting used to before it's comfortable and effective, especially with a bunch of things attacking you. You control your avatar solely with the mouse. Left click to burst forward, which doubles as both move and attack. Right click to jump backwards and become invincible for an instant.

Your enemies have the same method of moving and attacking, so combat plays out like roguelike bumper cars or a really violent mosh pit. Timing is the key to survival. To aid you in timing your charges and retreats, a thin circle surrounds you and each of your foes. This circle expands and contracts, and when the circle is at its biggest size, attacks are at their most powerful.

lifeless: ECHRO is still in development, but the basic gameplay is complete. What comes next are bells and whistles, embellishments and additional content: levels, items, enemies, effects, and even a bit of plot. The developer is open to suggestions and feedback, which you can leave here.

You can always download the latest build of ECHRO from the game's homepage (currently only for Windows). Cellusious plans on uploading weekly updates, but has actually posted them more frequently than that so far.