Echoes from the Dark – The Atmosphere of Dark Aether
If there is one thing Metroid Prime 2 does well it’s scare the living beejeezus out of you. The story behind Echoes was basic enough, its your traditional good vs evil/light vs dark conflict, but why was if effective? I can’t speak for others, but whenever I had to travel to Aether’s dark side I tried my best to get out of there as soon as possible. I tend to take my time exploring the environments or worlds in Metroid games, but dark Aether was an exception. In fact it is this exception which makes the world a suitable environment for the less virtuous.
The very atmosphere of Dark Aether is caustic, and the safety of the light crystals are fleeting at best. This presents you with a significant reason to move quickly through the world, however, in spite of this Retro Studios still took great care in the design. It also helps that many of the enemies in Dark Aether are stronger than their light counter parts (at least until you obtain the light beam). Looking for the sky temple keys in Torvus Bog was a bit of an adventure within itself thanks to the adrenaline rush I got every time I ran into a Dark Grenchler.
The Ing are particular in that a vast majority of them phase in and out of solid physical form and can posses other creatures. By far one of the most intense moments I have had in a Metroid game was discovering the galactic federation squad and as if that wasn’t harrowing enough the ing posses the soldiers and turn them into lifeless zombie like creatures.
Echoes is also quite a bit more difficult than the other Prime games. I’m still haunted by the number of retries necessary to defeat the boost ball guardian on hard mode. In addition the spider guardian and Emperor Ing are also far from pushovers.
Sometimes you just have to swallow your fear and take the time to enjoy the experience. While Echoes is a bit of a far cry from actually being horrifying, the game does an exceptionally good job of giving the player a reason to fear what lurks in the dark.