OPUS: Echo of Starsong Review
Game title: OPUS: Echo of Starsong
Game description: Opus: Echo of Starsong follows Eda and Jun, two star-crossed adventurers who team up to uncover the source of a mysterious outer space radiance known as the ‘Starsong’. Gameplay moves between visual novel style storytelling, puzzle-solving, galaxy charting, space navigating, and third person exploration, as Eda and Jun chart a course to the heart of the galaxy.
Author: Alex Gelinas
Embrace Yourself With All Your Flaws
It’s beyond impressive when a creative endeavour can take clear influence and inspiration from many sources, and leverage them with care and respect to forge their own wholly unique, distinct voice. Developers Sigono proudly pin many different inspirations—including such greats as FTL, Mass Effect, Star Trek, and far more—on their proverbial sleeves with OPUS: Echo of Starsong; and they do so all while weaving a tale, universe, and game which is entirely their own. While each individual component which makes up OPUS: Echo of Starsong is good-to-great in its own respect, they all coalesce into an end product which is exponentially greater than the sum of its parts. A hopeful yet melancholic tale of a future not yet written, occupying a world—nay, a galaxy—which feels significantly larger than it initially lets on will serenade you with a grand, beautifully composed soundtrack as you breathe in its stunning art. All of this is in service of propelling the central core of OPUS: Echo of Starsong—its fantastic space opera story.
The game’s story is one with an absolutely phenomenal amount of thoughtfully crafted, creative lore which makes the scope of the universe feel enormous—far bigger than what’s present in the game itself. The entirety of the game takes place in space, with your characters piloting a ship to various space stations, asteroids, and other celestial bodies as you chart a course through the stars to solve a bevy of mysteries. Each of which has its own history, and is possibly occupied by members of one of several factions (each with their own history with other factions, mythos, beliefs, and customs). It is a universe full of adventurers, swindlers, refugees displaced by wars and religious persecution, honest people trying to make ends meet, and far more. So what is your role in all of this?
You and your crew are adventurers; however, you have an advantage over most. You have the ability to interact with the “starsong.” What is the starsong? How does it manifest? What are the implications? Well, while I could explain it here, it’s far better to experience it for yourself. One of the most impressive aspects of OPUS: Echo of Starsong’s storytelling is that it introduces many concepts similarly unique as the starsongs themselves, and explains each of them in an intuitive, plausible way which is internally consistent with the enormous world they’ve built. Beyond the scope of this world being thoroughly impressive, the most important part of its story is the smaller-scope, more intimate tale it weaves about our intrepid adventurers.
At its core, OPUS: Echo of Starsong is a story about life—the value of a life, the impact another person can have on your own life, the far-reaching effects your life and decisions have on others, as well as what it means to truly and deeply care for someone. The story primarily follows two characters, Jun & Eda, both of whom come from disparate backgrounds, and whose paths cross coincidentally. Their arc together is multi-layered and complicated, balancing and celebrating their differences while they both deal with very real, very human problems. They deal with their own instances of loss and longing, they both struggle and hesitate to say what they mean, and sometimes they make decisions which they know will be right in the end, but hurt in the moment. They have their own goals, and sometimes these goals mean making sacrifices which affect one another. Sometimes they make sacrifices they previously never would have expected in order to help each other, even if it means setting back their own plans and goals. There’s a lot to talk about, but to truly do it justice would require diving into deep spoilers—perhaps we will have a spoilercast in the future to touch on these intricate details.
All of this has been said, and we haven’t even yet touched on the act of playing the game. Or the beautiful, colourful, vividly imaginative visuals. Or the wonderful marriage between gameplay and audio, which routinely weaves its soundtrack into the world itself. There’s a ton to unpack, but for the sake of not writing a 10 000 word review, I’ll summarize most of it. The gameplay itself is often varied—alternating between a fixed-camera, side-scrolling adventure/puzzle game; a space-faring, resource-managing and decision-making strategy game; and a visual novel with a blend between 3D models interacting in a 3D world, and painterly 2D art which often manifests as gorgeous CGs at major plot points. While none of these gameplay systems are show-stoppingly excellent on their own, they’re all fun for different reasons and do a wonderful job of ensuring there’s enough variety in your playthrough to keep forward momentum which consistently moves the plot forward. There’s also a ton of side content to do, all of which is entirely missable and failable! This aspect is a bold choice which I thoroughly appreciate.
For a game which includes the term “song” directly in the title, that may conjure some expectations for the soundtrack to have significance, and to be well-crafted. Thankfully it delivers on all fronts, and the game is made exponentially better by a beautiful soundtrack. In fact, I’ve had it playing in the background throughout writing this review (it is available on Steam and comes highly recommended). It is certainly excellent as a standalone listening experience, but is all-powerful when contextualized amongst intense, emotionally charged scenes. Or giving a gentle moment a pitch-perfect atmosphere which punctuates character moments with appropriate bravado. All-in-all, the music (and sound design) tie an already impressive experience together in a way which elevates it far beyond any potential I could have anticipated.
OPUS: Echo of Starsong is a triumph in all regards. It frequently punches above its weight, ambitiously growing the scale of its storytelling with each passing hour, and rarely (if ever) missing the mark. While there are certainly things which could be critiqued—occasional framerate dips, awkward animations at times, a few obtuse puzzles—they all pale in comparison to everything the game excels at. The layered story, the thorough lore, the carefully and thoughtfully constructed universe, the refreshing gameplay loops, the excellent characters, the gorgeous visuals, and the music which will stick with you hours beyond closing the game. It is a fantastic experience through-and-through, culminating in an astounding ending worthy of the journey. Thank you to the whole team at Sigono, you’ve crafted a fantastic experience and one of the best games of the year.
- Exceptional, Thoughtfully Crafted Story
- Diverse Gameplay Systems
- Distinct, Unique, High-Quality Audio & Visual Experience
- Great Bonus Features After Beating The Game
- Third Entry In The Series, But A Great Jumping-In Point
- Some Framerate Dips in Exploratory 3D Sections
- Some Animations Are Slightly Janky
- TBH Anything I Put Here Is Super Nit-Picky. You Should Play OPUS: Echo of Starsong