The original Echo Night was released in 1998 at home, and in 1999 globally. It opens with Richard being called to the torched remains of his late father's house. While sorting through the rubble, he stumbles across a hidden room with a mysterious painting... which abruptly transports him onto the deck of the Orpheus, a ship whose passengers and crew met a mysterious end decades ago. All appear to him as mere shadows, bound to the ship by past regrets; as he helps them resolve these issues, he gains strange crystals called Astral Pieces. Of course, not all of the ghosts are patiently waiting to be freed, to say nothing of the mystery surrounding what happened to the Orpheus in the first place...
The second game in the series, Echo Night 2: The Lord of Nightmares, followed in 1999, but it never saw its planned English release. Richard's girlfriend Rebecca Morgan has vanished; his search for answers leads him to a beautiful-but-haunted mansion, and to pictures of a woman who looks exactly like Rebecca despite having lived ages ago.
The third instalment was released in 2004 as the series' only entry on the PS2, and it also jumps the series into the year 2044. Echo Night: Beyond sees Richard Osmond and his fiancee Claudia Selfer about to fulfill their dream of being married on the moon. But before landing, their shuttle takes severe damage, and Richard wakes up outside the station disoriented and alone.
The series provides examples of:
- Betting Mini Game: In Echo Night, Richard can play roulette, Blackjack and the slots.
- Completion Meter: The inventory screen in Echo Night keeps track of the game's percentage completion, complete with a grading for the player's performance so far (Good, Average, etc.).
- Creepy Child: Various ghost children; in the original game, the first "aggressive" ghost you have to deal with is a constantly giggling little girl named Claudia.
- Cute Ghost Girl: the first game's Claudia briefly becomes this after being reunited with her dolly.
- Darkness = Death: A gameplay mechanic of the first and second game, where ghosts will only attack you in dark rooms. The first course of action is always to find a light switch whenever possible.
- Feuding Families: The Rockwells and the Osmonds in Echo Night.
- Foreshadowing: The only character that seems alive is Kenneth. When you find he is a android, it hints on how you managed to still be alive as well.
- Flying Dutchman: The Orpheus.
- Downer Ending: Some of the multiple endings. Such as one ending in Beyond, in which Richard kills himself.
- Ghost Ship: The Orpheus from Echo Night. There's also in Beyond, where Richard wakes up in a crashed spacecraft—with a ghost one floor above him.
- Gotta Catch 'Em All: We know there are 26 Astral Pieces to collect in the first game, and that Beyond doesn't, but what about The Lord of Nightmares?
- Guide Dang It!: Some parts of Beyond give no explanation as to what has to be done, and to make things worse, certain objects that you examine cannot be examined a second time, meaning you can miss important information clicking around on the walls.
- Haunted House: The setting of The Lord of Nightmares.
- In-Universe Game Clock: The first game includes an Internal Game Clock, which is tied to certain puzzles. Also, the on-board casino closes at 6:00 AM, and Richard will get kicked out if he's still gambling at that time.
- Justified Save Point: Phones in Echo Night. This begs the question: Who's on the other side of the line when Richard calls to save the game...?
- Human Sacrifice: A key plot point in the games is the existence of a red stone, usually in the form of a knife, that grants wishes. As can be expected from a knife, there's only one thing that must be done first...
- Late to the Tragedy: A recurring theme in these games. Since they heavily revolve around you helping the ghosts in an area move on, there is always a tragedy that populated the area with so many ghosts to begin with.
- Life Meter: Represented in Beyond as an EKG readout, which starts out at 80 bpm; strange encounters can make it rise, and if it goes above 300+, Richard dies.
- Multiple Endings: All three games have four endings.
- Obviously Evil: The medium from Echo Night. Whatever his deal is.
- Ominous Fog: In Beyond, fog will actually make the shades more hostile, so Richard must find ways to clear away — or, if failing that, avoid — the fog.
- Our Ghosts Are Different: There are two kinds, with both usually requiring some trinket that will resolve their Unfinished Business.
- Aggressive ghosts appear when the lights are off and have ghoulish features.
- The other ghosts can only be seen when the lights are on and appear as featureless black shades.
- Pensieve Flashback: In the first two games, Richard can enter the flashback memories of various ghosts in order to learn how he can help resolve them. He can also carry items from these flashbacks to the present, and vice versa.
- Permanently Missable Content: Averted with the Astral Pieces in the first game — the whole ship can be explored any time to collect any missing Astral Pieces.
- Played straight in Lord of Nightmares. You need the oil lamp to find one ghost (that another ghost relies on), but you lose the oil lamp for good once you are imprisoned. If you don't find that ghost within that window you can never finish collecting the Astral Pieces.
- Plot Coupon: The Astral Pieces.
- Replacement Goldfish: In Beyond Richard is a robotic copy of the original made by Claudia.
- Robotic Reveal: In Beyond Kenneth and the player character, Richard, are both android copies of their human counterparts.
- Theme Naming: The ship in the first game is called Orpheus and the airship in the second game is called Eurydice. The story of Orpheus rescuing Eurydice from the underworld holds a lot of symbolic relevance to the games, especially to Lord of Nightmares, in which the main villain's motivation is to save his wife from death, but ultimately fails.
- Unfinished Business: You help every ghost fulfill their dying wish in exchange for glowing purple crystal spheres of unknown significance.