Review: Beyond Eyes (Xbox One)
One of the first things that drew me to Beyond Eyes was its art style. Watercolor is all the rage now so I am thrilled to see it come through in many things, especially in electronic media like video games.
In Beyond Eyes, you play Rae, a 10-year-old girl who loses her sight in a freak fireworks accident. Traumatized, she now spends her days alone in the comfort of her special garden. Everything there is beautiful, safe, and comfortable. One day, she is visited by a stray orange tabby cat named Nani. Nani would come and visit her every day and continued to do so for some time. One day, Nani did not return. Worried, Rae takes matters into her own hands and leaves the comfort of her garden in search of her friend.
The game puts the player in control of Rae and since she is blind, you sort of are as well. The game uses a third person view so you see Rae and a small area around her while the rest of the screen is white. As you explore, these new areas are revealed to you in a beautiful and lush watercolor wash. Sounds like water falling and birds chirping give indications as to what direction those items are coming from. As you get closer to them, you (and Rae) may discover, that not all in the world is as it seems. Rae is only familiar with her garden surroundings so she assumes the sound of water falling is a beautiful fountain, when in reality, it may be water draining from a sewage pipe.
The game play is pretty simple, you walk around and discover stuff. The game controls well but Rae is slow, like a character that is over encumbered, which can be quite frustrating for some people. I had a really tough time with it but it’s consistent with her character and the story so you just deal. When Rae is scared, she withdraws and shivers. The music becomes dark and foreboding and the area is shrouded in a dark purple wash or a black fog-like watercolor wash. In some cases she will refuse to go near something because she is so scared so you must find ways to get around obstacles. Navigating can get difficult at times because previously discovered portions of the world will go away and it’s very easy to get lost or turned around. A portion of the game takes place in the rain and that further disoriented Rae and the player. But, like Rae, you do your best to follow the subtle clues the game gives you.
Without revealing too much about the story, I do want to say that I had quite a deep emotional connection to this game. So deep, that when the game ended, I was sobbing. The release date of this game was the same day that my cat, Rusty, passed away. She was with me for over 20 years and it was really hard even though I was sort of prepared for it. So Rae’s journey became my personal journey to help her find Nani and reunite them.
Beyond Eyes is a short game - you can finish it in under 2 hours if you don’t explore too much of the world around you. There is some replay value if you want to unlock all the achievements and explore more of the world. You can load the game from different chapters that you have passed and just do portions at a time. I definitely recommend playing the game although I know this game will not appeal to the masses. The game costs $14.99, which a bit of a hefty price tag for a game this short. Beyond Eyes isn't an action packed game, but it really does hit you in the feels.
Beyond Eyes is available on Xbox One, Windows, Playstation 4. It is slated to be released for OS X and Linux later this year.
- Beautiful graphic style and music
- Story provokes emotion
- Very short game for the price
- Game play can be frustrating for some players
Even though Beyond Eyes is a short game and the game play can be a little frustrating, games like it are few and far between. Games that are able to tap into and provoke emotion from the player are rare and I hope continue to be explored.
FINAL GRADE: 8 (out of 10)