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"I knew you'd be back... [...] Even though you're here you're going to try and run again... Just stop... Because just like this town... You're only moving in circles..."
Excerpt from the novel's opening lines.
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/echo_crew_4.png
The Echo crew. Starting at the top left and going clockwise: Carl, TJ, Flynn, Chase, Leo, and Jenna.
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Echo is a Psychological Horror Furry Visual Novel being developed in Ren'Py by the Echo Project group,note  Echo follows Chase, a journalism student, on a reunion with his friends in the down-on-its-luck southwestern desert town Echo (based off the real life town of Echo, Utah). He is there to document the town's turbulent history for his college project over the spring break of 2015. At first, the otter is all too happy to reconnect with his old friends, but soon tensions rise as an incident from the past resurfaces and threatens to tear the group apart for good. Chase also comes to realize that Echo may not be all it seems, as unsettling phenomena reveal a more sinister side to the small town he's called home for most of his life.

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Following the prologue, Chase can spend the remainder of his week with one of five childhood friendsnote :

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The resulting plot events and relevant side characters will vary widely depending on which of the friends you choose, with the only real constant being that things will inevitably reach a breaking point.

This visual novel contains violence, sex, and disturbing imagery that is unsuitable for readers under 18.note 


This visual novel contains examples of:

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    General 
  • Abandoned Mine: A centrepiece of the story, being the origin point of the initial incident of mass hysteria within the town that Chase is investigating for his project.
  • Anyone Can Die: No character is safe from the possibility of death once the hysteria hits in a route.
  • Bi the Way: Chase can mention his bisexuality to Jenna at the fairgrounds if you choose to do so.
  • Bitter Sweet Ending: The best you can hope for in nearly all routes (and explicitly stated to be the intention by the author), provided you don't get the outright bad endings. In Carl's route everyone trapped in the mansion makes it out alive and all four become good friends... but Leo, TJ & Flynn's lives are implied to be ruined by their experiences with the hysteria and Carl breaks off your romantic relationship, in Leo's route Chase makes peace with his ex, finds new love and escapes the town with the rest of his friends... but is still plagued by nightmares while Leo's life remains stagnant in Echo and he chooses to cut off contact with Chase entirely, although he is at least recovering from his obsession with their relationship, and in TJ's route Chase kills Flynn in a tragic repeat of the past, it's ambiguous how TJ feels about him (and whatever it is, it's probably not romantic in any way) and the epilogue doesn't involve Chase or his friends at all, making his and the rest of the main gang's eventual fate ambiguous... aside from Flynn, who's implied to have become yet another one of the town's vengeful spirits, making the whole thing a full-on Downer Ending.
  • Cell Phones Are Useless: One of the first signs of the mass hysteria coming over the town is everyone simultaneously reporting a sudden loss of reception, although in this case it also involves landline phones and internet access going down as well.
  • Cassandra Truth: Much of the conflict between Flynn and TJ regarding Sydney's death revolves around Flynn's refusal to take TJ at his word regarding the matter. Subverted when it turns out midway through Flynn's route he was right and TJ was leaving out key details of his account (although ironically it was to prevent further occurrence of this trope); and even when TJ tells the group the whole truth of what he saw, it soon becomes clear to the others that his interpretation of events missed over a key detail.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: The object of the game in general, with Leo being a failed example for Chase previously. It never takes.
  • Color Motif: Red is traditionally associated with anger and passion, which are two important aspects to Leo’s character. Additionally, Jenna on her route describes seeing a red faceless monster that would appear in doorways or in closets whenever her Abusive Parents were having one of their "moments".
  • Country Music: Mentioned as being one of the only things that can be found on the local radio; Jenna in particular can't stand it, and during Route 65 Chase and Carl beg their bus driver to turn it off or to turn the station to something else.
  • Closed Circle: After the hysteria hits, the entire town becomes one of these.
  • Daylight Horror: While the hysteria incidents themselves appear to mostly take place at nighttime, just as much of the story's horror occurs during daylight hours.
  • Death of a Child: A source of trauma for the entire group is Sydney’s tragic drowning in Lake Emma.
  • Demonic Possession: A common occurrence throughout the story, although the specific ways that the possession is expressed often seems to differ between the person it afflicts.
  • Drone of Dread: A common sound cue used when supernatural happenings occur.
  • Downer Ending: Most (read: All) of the endings in Echo are either bittersweet or outright depressing.
  • Dysfunction Junction: If a character is, or has been, a resident of Echo, then chances are they've got some level of Dark and Troubled Past to go with it.
  • Eating the Eye Candy: Chase's inner narration has several moments of this.
  • Fat and Skinny: Commonly present between duos within the game; Carl & Flynn from within the main group, Brian & Duke who combine this with other tropes, as well as Cameron & Devon from the epilogue of TJ's route who form a romantic version together.
  • Gayborhood: A somewhat strange example in that the area is also your typical homophobic American small-town, yet most of the major characters we see seem to be at least partially attracted to men.
  • Greasy Spoon: The diner that appears across several of the routes, where the gang often used to meet up in the past.
  • Ghostly Gape: The bald, white monster that chases the protagonists when they attempt to leave town via vehicle in Leo and Flynn's routes is described this way, with Daxton likening it to a plug socket at one point when the gang discusses their previous sightings of it in Flynn's route.
  • Hate Plague: The mass-hysteria incident that previously came over the town, which Chase decided to do a college project on, involved this; as you'd expect, it soon transpires that the incident threatens to repeat itself in the modern day.
  • History Repeats: A common theme throughout the game, often expressed using the novel's Arc Words "You're only moving in circles".
  • Hillbilly Horrors: Mostly in Leo and Flynn's routes, where the townfolk's various disturbing reactions to the mass hysteria are given focal point when it hits.
  • Humanoid Abomination: The monster that chases after the cast during Leo and Flynn's routes is described in this way, complete with Undeathly Pallor and Creepily Long Arms.
  • Hunting "Accident": Sydney's father was apparently killed in one of these and while the adults of the town, and Chase himself, believed that this was under suspicious circumstances a flashback from Sydney's point of view reveals that his father's death was actually a suicide and that Sydney actually tried to stop him.
  • Indian Burial Ground: Subverted; the fact that Jenna's native heritage is a plot point implies this might be the case at first, but it's later stated that the Meseta tribe never made any claim to the land as having any significance and in fact seemed to have actively avoided it in the past due to its status as an Eldritch Location.
  • Insane Equals Violent: ZigZagged in that, for the most part violent impulses tend to be the result of Demonic Possession exacerbating their worst traits rather than any mental instability in itself, and it's Averted entirely by Carl, who suffers from clinical depression and lacks any kind of violent outbursts whatsoever aside from when Familial Body Snatcher comes into play, of course.
  • Make It Look Likean Accident: Flynn is convinced that Sydney's death was under suspicious circumstances and that TJ isn't telling them the whole truth about what happened when he died. He's right.
  • Mind Screw: Multiple times, although a commonly occuring (and somewhat subtle) example being that train horns are at some points described in the text as sounding in the distance, and are often played as a background sound effect during quiet moments... despite the fact that the town's local railway line being taken out of commision years ago is explicitly stated during the Prologue as a major contributor to its status as a Dying Town.
  • Multiple Endings: The ending is determined based on the friend you choose and the choices you make along their route. The exception being TJ's route which has only 1 ending.
  • Mundane Horror: Commonly combined with Mood Whiplash during otherwise innocuous scenes, particularly before the mass hysteria hits the town and fully introduces more conventional horror tropes.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: Occurs with a frightening regularity across all of the routes, although granted copious amounts of Demonic Possession are usually involved.
  • Nice Guy: Pretty much all of the route-specific side characters (except Micha) are this to some extent, particularly Raven (barring a few Innocently Insensitive moments).
  • Only Sane Man: The route-specific side characters are all non-native to Echo (again, except Micha) and as a result generally lack the same baggage as everyone else.
  • Player and Protagonist Integration: A combination of "Advisor" and "Controller" types, as Chase remains unaware that his choices are being influenced in most routes.
  • Playful Otter: Defied by Chase; apparently it's an in-universe species stereotype that he somewhat resents.
  • Playing the Player: During Flynn and TJ's routes especially, with the former revealing that the choices made throughout the game are actually the player controlling Chase through an entity possessing him and influencing his actions in-universe and the latter ending with the Chase undergoing Sanity Slippage and forgoing the usual "Good End/Bad End" structure and essentially Railroading the player into an ending where Chase murders one of his friends, in order to represent him being possessed by a different entity that even his usual possessing spirit fears during the events of this route.
  • Posthumous Character: Sydney. He is developed entirely using flashbacks and the group's personal accounts of him.
  • Psychological Horror: Using the psychology of its characters, Echo explores loneliness, guilt, obsession, and the stories people tell themselves to cope.
  • Regularly Scheduled Evil: Subverted in that the date itself is actually completely unimportant and it just happened to be coincidence that Chase and friends returned to Echo exactly 100 years after the previous mass hysteria incident; indeed, the epilogue for TJ's route reveals that, due to the events that occured, the hysteria incident did not occur during the present day for that route until 2 years later - which is implied to be the result of Chase making good on his promise to Leo earlier in the same route to return to the town one day to visit.
  • Ridiculous Procrastinator: Chase rarely, if ever, makes significant progress on his project throughout the entire game.
  • Shout-Out: Both the main game and Route 65 contain references to another furry visual novel Blackgate; at one point on Flynn's route Jenna mentions seeing a blog post about a Mothman driving a semi truck through the area, and during Route 65 the music choices for the radio are the same as the radio options during Blackgate's opening scene; earlier in the same route Daxton almost calls Carl "Sans" during their first meeting, and during Jenna's route Chase uses the line "black as a moonless eve at midnight" to refer to how he likes to take his coffee.
  • Spiders Are Scary: A common occurrence due to Chase's arachnophobia.
  • Surprise Party: The group will always throw a surprise party for Carl every Wednesday of every route, but the party will turn out differently depending on the route you choose.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Explored with Sydney. It seems most of the group either disliked or were afraid of Sydney, the notable exception being Flynn, his best friend.
  • The New '10s: The story is set during spring break of 2015, the same year that the novel first began development.
  • There Are No Therapists: Averted, as several characters mention having gone into therapy for their experiences in the past for all the good it did them.
  • Twisted Ankle: Both Carl and Leo's routes have this happen to Chase at some point. While in Leo's route he recovers after a while, it's Deconstructed in Carl's route as repeatedly breaking his ankle several times and being forced to walk on it the whole time they're trapped in the mansion leaves Chase walking with a limp for the rest of his life.
  • World of Jerkass: If a character in Echo isn't already a Jerkass of some description, then chances are the effects of the mass hysteria coming over the town will turn them into one. Pretty much the only characters immune to this are the route-specific side characters, who tend to lean more towards Nice Guy and Only Sane Man.

    Prologue 

    TJ's Route 
  • Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: Carl, when playing a Drinking Game version of "Never Have I Ever" with TJ & Chase (both choosing to use their fingers instead), begins seeing some of TJ's suggestions ("Never have I ever failed a test", "Never have I ever been in a car accident", etc) as deliberately personal slights against him and counters with "Never have I ever killed someone.", resulting in TJ giving him a surprisingly cold dressing-down before stomping out.
  • Children Are Innocent: Averted. Neither Chase nor Sydney are shown in a favorable light if you go by the flashbacks.
  • Demonic Head Shake: Chase describes the figure he sees in motel's bathroom mirrort mirror as shaking its head abnormally fast in this way.
  • Don't Go in the Woods: On the edge of the forest, Janice tells Chase and TJ a story about a couple who went into the forest and were then pursued by a static monster. Chase himself begins experiencing the worst of his possession after being left in the forest in a Heroid BSOD induced daze for some time, during which the voice in his head begins speaking directly to him and warning him of the danger he's in there.
  • Facial Horror: Occurs when Chase hallucinates the monster in his reflection early in the route and again when he sees it later on near the end, along with the ghost of Flynn described during the epilogue.
  • Hidden Disdain Reveal: Chase towards Flynn near the end of the route, although it's ambiguous as to how much of it is actually true and how much is just a facet of his increasing Sanity Slippage.
  • Irrational Hatred: Chase feels this towards Carl and Julian after a certain point, making uncharacteristic comments about them in his head. Flynn, however, gets a "The Reason You Suck" Speech along with a threat of facial disfigurement. Ouch.
  • Kick the Dog: Chase makes an uncharacteristically nasty comment claiming that Carl is faking an anxiety attack in an attempt to turn the group against him, which even the voice inside his head calls him out on.
  • The Mirror Shows Your True Self: Early on in the route Chase has a nasty experience with a mirror in the local diner's bathroom; near the end after his Sanity Slippage has reached breaking point, he finally speaks to the entity via the bathroom mirror in his motel room where it's revealed that the visions represent an entity in his head (separate to the one already possessing him) manipulating his thoughts and actions so as to become violently protective of TJ, and implied to have done so in the past.
  • Out of Focus: After Carl's party, Leo doesn't show up until near the end of the route, even though one of the clues the group finds during the treasure hunt explicitly tells them to bring Leo with them, which goes uncommented on by the other characters.
  • Paranormal Investigation: The epilogue has a couple of these as minor characters investigating the town shown from their point of view as they film at the lake, whereupon the more sceptical one of the two sees the ghost of Flynn floating on the lake out of the corner of his eye as they leave and freaks out.
  • Precision F-Strike: Narrowly averted at the beginning of the route during an outburst about Flynn's behaviour during the prologue, but played straight later on when he snaps and calls Carl an "ass" when the latter suddenly grabs him from behind and says "boo" to scare him during the group's Scavenger Hunt.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: The ending has Chase seemingly reconnect with TJ after their falling out following the incident in the woods, and the two of them drive off into the sunset together... at the cost of Flynn getting murdered by Chase and becoming another one of the town's vengeful ghosts, along with their friendship group having completely fallen apart by this point as a result of Chase's prior actions.
  • Reluctant Psycho: Chase seems to grow more and more aware of and conflicted about his actions as the route progresses, but to no avail.
  • Riddle for the Ages: It's never revealed who is truly responsible for leaving behind the treasure hunt clues the gang finds in seemingly impossible places . Chase believes that Flynn and Carl conspired together somehow, while TJ insists that it was Sydney; although given that TJ is seen under some kind of possession-induced trance by Chase at one point, seems to immediately pinpoint exactly where some of the clues are as they go along, and the real final clue is revealed to have been a childish scribble of Chase killing Sydney not dissimilar to the one TJ draws on the restaurant napkin early on, it's entirely possible that the true culprit was in fact TJ himself, consciously or otherwise.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The final scene has a first-person perspective of Chase holding Flynn under the water to drown, while the latter desperately struggles and wordlessly pleads for his life, set to calm, gentle piano music.
  • Scare Dare: In a flashback, in return for letting TJ swing, Chase dares him to sneak into the abandoned school. TJ promptly refuses.
  • Scavenger Hunt: Comes up during this route as a favourite pastime of Sydney's, and the main storyline of the route involves the group finding an old envelope containing the first clue for what seems to be the last one he made before dying only for the clues to begin addressing things that would only be possible for Sydney to know if they were written after he had died...
  • The Bully: Played straight with Sydney and played with for Chase. Sydney goes to dangerous levels while roughhousing with TJ so Chase attacks him on TJ’s behalf, and a younger Chase is shown lying to and manipulating his friends to get what he wants whether that be sleepovers or to get out of doing work.
  • The Ending Changes Everything: At the end of the route it's revealed that Chase himself was the one responsible for Sydney's death, which subsequently leads to him killing Flynn in the present day to keep him silent; something which causes various scenes throughout the rest of the novel to carry an entirely different meaning, leads to multiple examples of Harsher in Hindsight, and also fully confirms that Chase is an Unreliable Narrator.
  • The Unfettered: Chase, along with the entity manipulating his actions, is willing to hurt, manipulate, and deceive whoever they need to in order to protect TJ and make sure that his Dark Secret stays under wraps.
  • Tragic Mistake: At the end of the route Chase is manipulated into making the decision to drown Flynn to "protect" TJ from him, and also prevent his Dark Secret from getting out, during the course of which he has a few brief moments of lucidity where he says he wants to stop or even check Flynn's corpse to see if there's still a chance for him to be resuscitated once the deed is done, but a combination of Demonic Possession and feeling too far-gone to stop himself prevents him.
  • Where It All Began: Everything begins and ends at the lake where Sydney drowned.
  • You Monster!: Chase himself gets this from the voice in his head of all people, when he uses Air Quotes to mock Carl while the latter is having a panic attack.

    Flynn's Route 
  • Ambiguous Gender Identity: Casey, one of the regulars that Chase meets after following Flynn to The Smoke Room, is described with "they" pronouns in Chase's inner monologue due to this.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: A temporary example takes place during a Flashback and later on a more permanent example occurs when the spirit possessing Chase, and thus player point-of-view, shifts over from Chase to Flynn.
  • "Be Quiet!" Nudge: Chase gives one of these to Jenna when she tries to tell TJ about his brief fling with Flynn, by stomping on her foot hard enough that she has to limp over to a bench to sit down for the rest of the gang's barbecue.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Subverted; Flynn appears to be doing this at one point during his route, but he's actually addressing the spirit currently possessing Chase.
  • Death of Personality: After Chase's possession ends midway through the route, he describes the effects of what it was like for him as being similar to this.
  • Freaky Fashion, Mild Mind: Flynn's aunt seems to be this way at first, and likely as not would count under normal circumstances, but when the hysteria hits the town she joins the rest of the townsfolk in starting a lynch mob against Chase and accuses Flynn of being the one who's gone crazy when he steps in to stop her.
  • Clickbait Gag: During the gang's picnic, Carl makes an offhand joke that Chase should title his project "Top 10 Reasons Echo Depopulated from Evil Mine Murder - you won't believe reason #2" to keep up with the times.
  • Hell Is That Noise: Early in the route Chase describes hearing a noise "like an orchestra tuning up" on the inside of his head, with the same tone often used by the visual novel itself to underscore when a creepy supernatural occurance is taking place.
  • Homoerotic Dream: A humorous aside from when Daxton talks about a dream he had, where he mentions at one point being told by the Chase in his dream that another Daxton, Carl & Flynn were "jerking eachother off" outside, to the real-life Chase's amusement.
  • Insult of Endearment: Flynn has a tendency towards these, mostly with Carl or Chase (being particularly fond of referring to the latter as "muskshit").
  • Ladykiller in Love: It's implied that Flynn actually has genuine feelings for Chase, to the point where Carl gets a little jealous when telling the latter how Flynn was practically gushing over him while he and Carl were driving up to the reservation, and later on in the route Flynn is practically kicking himself for thinking about him nonstop "like a horny fourteen year old" in his inner monologue.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: First scene in the prologue with Flynn's comments towards Chase about the latter's Ridiculously Average Guy status and accusations of viewing the others as objects to be seduced through one by one, however during his own route he notices that Chase is acting "oddly" during points where the player is making choices, and at one point directly questions the spirit inhabiting Chase in a manner suspiciously similar to Addressing the Player.
  • Mad at a Dream: Discussed during an optional scene where Daxton tells Chase about a dream that he had with Chase in it, but ultimately Averted.
  • Manly Gay: Ryan, one of the regulars that Chase meets after following Flynn to The Smoke Room.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: While on a fishing trip with Flynn and Carl, Chase grabs a fish while swimming underwater without looking at it, before describing a sudden feeling of Being Watched while creepy music swells up; after taking a look at the fish in question he immediately releases it and bolts back onto dry land without a word, never mentioning the incident again or describing in his internal monologue what he saw that frightened him so badly.
  • Optional Sexual Encounter: While the first two sex scenes in Flynn's route are mandatory, the third after Chase follows him to The Smoke Room can be averted by simply making the choice to have Chase become uncomfortable and leave.
  • Psychic Dreams for Everyone: Daxton mentions in an optional scene as having a lot dreams lately that involve doing things and going to places that he'd never done before, yet which often foreshadow events and reveal things he should have no way of knowing about, such as one he tells Chase about involving the white-faced monster that several characters in the main group had previously seen visions of and that the gang witnesses chasing after them later on in the route and another that Chase cuts him off before fully describing is implied to be about the time that Sydney witnessed his father commit suicide, the latter of which Chase himself dreams about later on in the route.
  • Talking the Monster to Death: Shortly after the hysteria begins and much of the town is gathered outside the town hall, Daxton attempts this with Duke and the other townsfolk when talk begins of lynching Chase to try and end the hysteria if you choose to let him; it almost seems to work for a moment, before a member of the crowd butts in and the crowd shortly becomes hostile again.
  • Through His Stomach: The scene before Flynn's second sex scene involves him teaching Chase how to prepare a meal, implying an attempt at this.
  • Troubled Abuser: Sydney's father seems to go through a brief moment of lucidity after getting called out by them... unfortunately, it's what spurs him to commit suicide right in front of him.
  • Rabble Rouser: When the townsfolk are gathered outside of the town hall to discuss what's happening, Duke attempts to whip up a lynch mob to solve the problem. Unfortunately his solution involves scapegoating Chase, and while Daxton can do an admirable job almost calming the mob down using rational argument if you choose to let him, a different member of town calling for Chase's head from the back whips the mob back into a frenzy again anyways.
  • Tulpa: An optional conversation with Leo, about an Imaginary Friend version of Chase he created after they split up implies that this "imaginary" Chase may have physically manifested into the real world as one of these, with one route variation having it begin appearing in places where the rest of the group can see it as well.
  • Skinny Dipping: Chase does this early on in the route, leading to a brief moment between him and Flynn afterwards that serves as the first tip-off for Flynn that Chase is possessed.
  • Spared, but Not Forgiven: While Flynn clearly isn't happy about learning Chase was Sydney's killer, he also feels sick when the thought of being happy about him dying from being bitten by a horde of Black Widow spiders crosses his mind and actively opposes the townfolk when they propose lynching him, justifying it by saying that what he wanted was to hear the truth about what happened from him, not vengence.
  • The Rez: Mentioned a few times as a place Flynn used to go to buy cigarettes and in the present day buys a fancy lighter for Carl; much to the annoyance of Jenna, being an analogue to Native American herself.
  • Where Everybody Knows Your Flame: The Smoke Room is a darker example of this, functioning more as a sleazy hookup club for rural gays and drug addicts looking for a place to get a fix in exchange for sex acts than anything else.

    Jenna's Route 

    Leo's Route 
  • Accidental Murder: One bad end for the route has Leo accidentally drag Chase under the wheels of a running train trying to stop him from running away.
  • Agony of the Feet: At one point, Clint tells Chase the story of a man in the town's history who, while trainhopping in Echo, was pulled underneath and gruesomely lost his legs in the process. In one bad ending, Chase ends up suffering a similar fate.
  • Alien Abduction: According to Brian's backstory his father claimed that his Missing Mother was the result of this, possibly as a joke. While he realised later on in life that the story was (probably) untrue, he mentions that it still gave him night terrors of aliens, including one that looked like his mother, doing unspeakable things to him in the night.
  • Alone with the Psycho: After Chase gets kidnapped again by Brian, the latter takes him to the mines where he plans to execute him and then bury his body with those of his other victims.
  • Always a Bigger Fish: Brian's attempt to kill Chase and bury him in the mines with the rest of his victims is stopped only by a monster, implied to be one of the aliens from his dreams, suddenly appearing and doing something horrifying to him that Chase doesn't stick around to witness.
  • Amicable Exes: Despite the relationship ending under rather rocky circumstances, Leo and Chase still get along fairly well together and even entertain the idea of rekindling their relationship during the course of his route.
  • Ancient Evil: Late in the route it's implied that the evil inhabiting the town's mine predates civilisation itself, and according to Flynn's route may be related to the quartz deposits buried within.
  • Another Man's Terror: Occurs near the end of the route; during the scene where Chase is about to be executed by Brian in the mines, he relives the last moments of one of the bear's previous victims.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: A big theme is that Leo and Chase’s relationship falling apart was due to this, with Chase refusing to outright break things off with Leo to his face even when it became exceedingly clear to everyone else involved that he was no longer interested in the relationship; this becomes massively important later on in the route, where unless the choice is made to have Chase explicitly tell Leo "it's over", the latter's possession-induced obsession goes into overdrive and leads him to accidentally drag Chase under the wheels of a train in an attempt to stop him from leaving.
  • Car Fu: Attempted by Duke against Chase at one point in the route, after the hysteria hits.
  • Calling Your Bathroom Breaks: Occurs three times during the route, with all three times unwittingly resulting in a situation that leaves Chase alone in peril.
  • Erotic Asphyxiation: Performed by Brian, a drug dealer who often takes advantage of his "clients" by forcing them to take part in this in return for drugs; it's implied and later confirmed that he's killed at least one person this way and at one point he forces Chase himself to take part during a particularly gruesome sequence.
  • Exposition Victim: Chase himself when trapped in the mines with Brian near the end of the route, to the point where even the voice inside Chase's head berates him for continuing to ask questions instead of running away when Brian is literally digging his own grave right in front of him. Chase's justification is that he's asking questions to buy time before escaping, but it's implied he's simply too afraid to try and run away as Brian is blocking the exit, and has a weapon in his hand along with a demonstrated size and speed advantage.
  • Fantasy Keepsake: Played for horror; at one point during Leo's route Chase has a nightmare about being chased by a monster through the underbrush; when he wakes up, he's in bed next to Leo where he went to sleep... except right at the foot of the bed next to his feet is a leaf from one of the plants he was running through that wasn't there when he went to sleep.
  • Friendship Trinket: The anchor bracelet Leo always wears (which can also be seen in the game's logo on the title screen) is part of a pair that he and Chase bought as a symbol of their friendship back when they were dating, however Chase came to resent the anchor iconography and shoved his into the back of a drawer in his college dorm not too long after he and Leo broke up.
  • Glory Days: Leo definitely sees his high school days as this, judging by the conversation he has with Chase at the Payton high football field on his route.
  • Going in Circles: Fittingly, considering the story's Arc Words, the gang experiences this when attempting to escape the town in one of Carl's parents' vehicles, forcing them to hop onto a mysteriously appearing train that keeps passing through the town over and over to escape instead.
  • Ghost Train: Implied by the fact that train horns are regularly heard despite the local railway line being disused for years, and sure enough Clint describes seeing one running across the lines during the hysteria although this one is actually a Subversion; it later turns out that the railway was being used to move an old train from one town to another for a museum, which just so happened to be running through the town during the hysteria incident.
  • I'm Cold... So Cold...: During one of Leo's bad endings Chase's internal monologue mentions feeling cold across his body as he slowly dies from blood loss after his feet get cut off by a train.
  • Inner Monologue Conversation: Chase has one of these with the voice inside his head after being taken by Brian to the mines.
  • Interrupted Intimacy: At a few points in the route; examples include when Leo and Chase are inturrupted by Kudzu when making out near the abandoned train cars, and another time where Leo sees something in the mirror when the two are looking to get busy in the bathroom of his trailer home.
  • Masculine–Feminine Gay Couple: Deconstructed, as Leo's Stay in the Kitchen tendencies as a result of this trope is implied to be one of many reasons that his relationship with Chase didn't work out.
  • More Than Mind Control: How Leo describes his behaviour throughout the route during the epilogue, admitting that most of the worst qualities he showed while possessed were things that were there all along that the mass hysteria simply brought out of him. The effects of the hysteria are shown to work this way in other routes as well, with Chase himself behaving almost identically during TJ's route.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Leo shoots Kudzu in the face during during a bad ending after the latter jumps out of a train, badly hurting his leg in the process, to try and save Chase's life; it's implied he considers doing so in the good ending as well for a brief moment, however disregards the idea and instead finally lets things go after Chase stands in front of his gun to stop him.
  • Old Flame: Leo and Chase had been in a relationship for three years before Chase left to go to Pueblo for college. Leo still has some very strong feelings for the otter, while Chase is somewhat more conflicted. ironically, according to an optional scene in Flynn's route, Leo is the one who continued to sleep around with other guys a few times after they broke things off while Chase stayed entirely single.
  • Puppy-Dog Eyes: Leo pulls this during a scene in the library scene on his route, with Chase mentioning that he used to do it often while they were dating.
  • Quit Your Whining: Done to Chase by the voice inside of his head possessing him when he begins panicking after being kidnapped by Brian and brought to the mines to be killed.
  • The Cavalry Arrives Late: When Flynn arrives in the mines to save Chase after the latter gets kidnapped by Brian, he only arrives after the threat in question has already been taken out, although his presence does end up helping Chase out of a Heroic B So D.
  • Torture Cellar: Brian’s trailer essentially functions as a place where they can inflict sadistic tortures on whomever they please in peace.
  • Trapped in a Sinking Car: Occurs at one point near the end of the route, when a monster rams the car the group is attempting to escape the town in into the lake.

    Carl's Route 
  • A Glitch in the Matrix: Near the good end of the route, after somehow ending up in warped version of his university, Chase's inner monologue notes several inconsistencies in the environment around him that finally culminate in Carl pointing out that the curiously elongated "beds" in the warped version of the dorm room Chase thinks they're in are actually the tables in the local diner.
  • Agony of the Feet: The story has no qualms about letting us know just how much pain Chase’s twisted ankle is in.
  • Ambiguous Ending: Carl’s bad ending is ambiguous about whether Carl and Chase get out of Echo and what happens to the rest of the group.
  • Another Dimension: A Subversion; the twisted worlds that the group of four keeps finding themselves in turn out to actually be the real world as seen through a spirit-induced hallucination.
  • Chubby Chaser: Carl jokes about Chase being one of these on the balcony after the latter brings him some cake when they duck out of the Surprise Party, asking if he has some kind of feeder fetish.
  • Closed Circle: After the hysteria strikes Chase (along with Carl, Raven & Jenna) all become trapped within a twisted hallucination within the Hendricks mansion.
  • Country Matters: Played for drama; one of the indications that Carl is Not Himself if you choose to have Chase tell him to let James' spirit "help" the group is him referring to Jenna in this way.
  • Creepy Basement: The crawlspace in the Hendricks mansion functions similarly to one of these.
  • Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: Carl is shown feeling conflicted about not wanting to do anything in his life despite how much he wishes he could feel that. In his good ending, he decides to go back into college to be an Art Major, something that his parents had previously stopped him from doing.
  • Destroy the Evidence: Occurs in one of the bad endings, where James Hendricks decides that the best way to preserve his name is to Leave No Witnesses and set the mansion they're in on fire with all the evidence still in it.
  • Electromagnetic Ghosts: The voices that Chase hears when navigating his hallucination of Pueblo University are represented this way, described within the text as sounding like they're being played from an old radio with appropriate sound effects being played in the background, along with the text the lines are written in being fuzzy and out of focus.
  • Enclosed Space: The main four of Carl's route hallucinate the Hendricks mansion as one of these with the main crux of the route being their attempts to find a way to escape. Although in an ironic twist it turns out that, for the most part, being trapped inside meant they were kept relatively safe during the hysteria compared to what was going on everywhere else, with the greatest danger to the four of them coming from within the group itself.
  • Emotionless Girl: Played extremely straight with Jenna, who shows an almost comical level of nonchalance to the events that take place. Justified because of her ancestor John possessing her.
  • Epiphany Therapy: Carl's best ending has him finally come to terms with himself in a sudden moment of clarity (with the song that plays during the moment even being labelled "Epiphany" within the game's files); Subverted earlier on, however, during a scene at the lake where it seems that this is going to be the case for the gang as a whole regarding Sydney's death when Chase ditches the meeting to go for a swim and the others follow behind him, only for the moment to be ruined by him suddenly almost drowning, causing the others at the lake to all turn on eachother.
  • Fantastically Indifferent: Enforced when Chase begins to freak out about the situation they're in leading to a [[Railroading forced choice where the only option is "Everything is fine."]] in order to calm them down.
  • Familial Body Snatcher: Played with in that the spirits possessing Carl & Jenna are implied to be closer to "simulations" of the people they represent rather than their actual ghost, at least according to a line from Chase's own possessing spirit in Leo's route.
  • Foreshadowing: A few examples, such as Chase's seemingly throwaway comment regarding a movie he once saw about Demonic Possession foreshadowing both later events of Carl's route itself and that of other routes as well, along with the end-route reveal that the entire thing took place within a spirit-induced hallucination of real world events rather than an Alternate Universe being earlier implied when Chase describes feeling sand under his feet while walking through the snow in the fake Pueblo University, as well as in one of the bad endings where Chase is immediately returned to the "real" world after being accidentally stabbed to death by a possessed Jenna among other things.
  • Freudian Excuse: While nothing is really confirmed in terms of how much it actually contributed to him becoming a sociopathic pedophile Serial Killer, mention is made in some articles that Chase finds of James Hendricks' father being so violently abusive that he ended up beating one of James' siblings to death.
  • Happier Home Movie: Subverted; Carl and Chase watch a video of an old birthday which starts off like one of these, only for the good mood to take a sudden downturn when Sydney shows up, shutting it off completely after Carl's father holding the camera mutters about "the damn mormon kid" under his breath.
  • Haunted House: The Hendricks family mansion is this, according to Carl. He's right.
  • I Should Have Been Better: Leo expresses guilt over not being able to protect Sydney from drowning in the lake years ago, which leads him to arrange a meeting between the group to discuss it.
  • It Tastes Like Feet: Raven compares the taste of the grilled cheese sandwiches the cast makes to chalk. This turns out to be because the "sandwiches" were actually wall plaster that the group was hallucinating as food while trapped within the hysteria.
  • Mood Whiplash: During a scene where Carl and Chase are having a heart-to-heart about Carl's future, the conversation ends with Carl saying he's glad to have Chase around in what seems like a sweet moment... until he elaborates that it's also because "This house is fucking haunted" and the scene ends.
  • Now What?: Carl’s bad ending if you choose to have Chase tell Carl to let James' spirit "help" ends immediately after he and Carl, now implied to be a hollow shell post-possession, escape from the burning Hendricks mansion.
  • Not Helping Your Case: John Begay would probably have a somewhat easier time getting the group to help him to prevent James from disposing of evidence and getting away with his crimes if he wasn't blatantly possessing his descendant's body against their will and generally acting as suspiciously as possible. Somewhat Justified though, as not only does Leo's route imply that he's more of a "simulation" of the real John Begay than his actual ghost, but he and James are also being physically prevented from giving Chase and the others vital information by some other entity running the whole thing.
  • Not Right in the Bed: Carl ultimately breaks off the relationship with Chase out of fear of this trope, worrying that the recently developing romantic aspect between them was the result of James' possession.
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: Chase does this when seeing a spider in the basement, much to Carl's amusement.
  • Shattering the Illusion: Chase does this with a little help from Carl during the good end, after the latter had already done it for himself on his own.
  • Sinister Scraping Sound: At once point Carl and Chase hear a noise like this coming from somewhere inside of the former's Big Fancy House in the middle of the night they never do find out what it was, or if it was only just in their heads to begin with.
  • Slobs vs. Snobs: Carl's route begins with this dynamic between him and Jenna, the former being the "Slob" while the latter's open disdain for his habits puts her into the "Snob" role; interesting, the usual class element of this trope is reversed entirely, with Carl's family being extremely wealthy while Jenna grew up in a home that was dirt poor.
  • Stout Strength: Carl displays this trope much more openly than in other routes, likely as a result of his newfound confidence due to being in the early stages of Demonic Possession.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Subverted in one of the bad endings, where James Hendricks' spirit almost achieves this, but while the evidence of his misdeeds was likely destroyed in the mansion fire James himself is pulled out of Carl's body and back into the inferno by his previous victims.
  • The Sociopath: James Hendricks fits the trope to a tee. He shows absolutely no concern or remorse for his actions, threw away his lover John the moment it became beneficial to him, was apparently well-known for being manipulative among the townsfolk at the time and his sole motivation is to preserve his name by covering up any potential evidence of his crimes, never once considering his own actions (past or present) to be wrong in any way. Pretty much the only decent thing we hear of him doing is an article that Chase finds early on in the route that mentions he regularly sent money to his sister and her family just as he promised her he would.
  • Things That Go "Bump" in the Night: Carl and Chase hear noises in the middle of the night, which Carl mentions having heard himself on previous occasions, only to find an empty basement when they go investigate.
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: Carl is described as being left with a blank and faraway look after the events of one of the bad endings.
  • Tongue-Tied: As it turns out, both James Hendricks and John Begay are suffering from this trope, hence their general Be as Unhelpful as Possible attitude regarding the whole thing. Of course, in James' case, he'd probably do the same regardless of this trope.
  • Undead Child: During one of the bad endings the ghosts of the Meseta tribe boys that were murdered by James Hendricks years ago help Chase to escape and drag James' spirit out of Carl's body and back into the raging inferno, after the latter sets the mansion on fire to destroy all evidence of his crimes.

    Short Stories 
A folder for tropes relating to the Patron-only short stories, whose plot elements are often referred to in passing during the novel itself. Tropes relating to Route 65 or Benefits also go here.
  • Caught with Your Pants Down: While not shown onscreen, Chase being caught masterbating to gay porn by his parents kicks off the events of the plot of Route 65.
  • Coming-Out Story: The plot of Route 65 revolves around which one of his friends Chase chooses to come out to before coming out to Leo as well later on. According to the devs, canon is that the same person Chase chooses to come out to is the one he chooses to follow at the lake in ''Echo'' itself.
  • Gayngst: Chase gets a lot of this during Route 65, much moreso than during the main story.
  • Girly Run: While it's unknown whether he still does it, Jenna describes this -along with a prominent lisp- as being one of the reasons she'd already figured Chase was gay for some time now if he comes out to her in Route 65.
  • Irony: Picking Carl as the one to come out to in Route 65 has the Stinger show an old social media profile of Carl's from when they were kids, followed by Sydney's. At the bottom of the page is shown the account's Top 4 Friends, with Sydney's 1st being Flynn as you'd expect... followed by Jenna and Chase, aka the person who said she was glad that he died and the person who killed him in the first place.
  • Love Confession: Route 65 revolves around Leo's original confession to Chase, which marked the beginning of their relationship prior to the game.
  • Mating Dance: The short story Lights features a girl doing this with TJ during a youth dance in their church, who ends up with a Raging Stiffie as a result.
  • Shout-Out: At one point during Route 65 Carl quotes the lyrics to Benny Benassi's "Satisfaction", and the Metaphor side-story has Flynn putting a cigarette between his teeth but not smoking it as a reference to a memetic scene in The Fault in Our Stars, citing an in-universe film with a similar scene as his inspiration for quitting to begin with.
  • The Runaway: As the story's name suggests, Runaway centers around Jenna's successful attempt at escaping from her Dysfunctional Family.
  • The Stinger: Each one of the individual "routes" of Route 65 has one of these, usually taking something mentioned earlier on in the route and giving it an unnerving spin, such as Chase's online personal ad for a gay hookup getting sent Leviticus 20:13note  by the site's admin account after TJ's route, in a callback to TJ sending a much more supportive bible quote using a similar format earlier on.
  • The Voice: Flynn in Route 65, who is only conversed with via text messages and never actually shows up in person.
  • Transparent Closet: Chase was this before coming out, at least according to Jenna if you choose her to come out to in Route 65.
  • Your Favorite: Subverted in Runaway, when Chase reveals he only got Jenna a strawberry popsicle because it was the only flavor left in the convenience store.

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