If you've ever wanted to experience what it's like to be unable to see then here's a game for you. Although it's an undeniably beautiful adventure, does it hold up as a game? Let's slowly walk through the woods and find out.
Beyond Eyes is an incredibly unique game where you control a little girl named Rae who loses her sight when playing with fireworks with her friends. Then, she meets a stray cat that she names Nani and spends the rest of the game trying to find him. It makes me wonder how awful Rae's parents are since they let her play with fireworks then she just strolls off facing many dangers while searching for her cat, but I digress. As you wander around looking for Nani, the world slowly renders according to Rae's other senses. Hearing a bird chirp in the distance will make it temporarily materialize while the smell of bread might have Rae imagine a basket full of loaves. It's an amazing concept that'll capture the heart of any gamer who has even the slightest bit of imagination. The graphics are outstanding as everything is illustrated like a faint water-colour painting come to life while the subtle music and sound effects provide a layer of gentleness. It truly is quite a remarkably crafted world.
When it comes to gameplay, there really isn't much to talk about. The majority of the adventure consists of just walking very slowly while discovering the world around you. You progress by reaching a point that carries you to the next chapter. In other words, all this game involves is making it from point A to point B. There are a handful of events that unfold throughout such as having to distract birds and dogs that stand in your way, retrieve another little girl's ball, and cross a street. Some of these events will make you nervous for Rae's safety because it would be devastating if anything were to happen to her, but knowing that nothing will transpire easily suppresses that feeling. A fascinating event develops when it rains since it disorients Rae so her memory of the ground that she's covered quickly dissipates. Although these occurrences are intriguing, there are far too few of them to keep things interesting.
Rae's extremely slow movement is charming at first, but it's hard not to get impatient as you progress. This is especially true when you're forced to backtrack either because you reached a dead-end or you've unblocked a path that allows you to move on from a previously visited location. Eventually, I had to put on a movie while I played to make it through the campaign as it was just too boring waiting for her to carefully place one foot in front of the other. In fact, from time to time I found myself playing by watching Rae in the corner of my eye which felt more like babysitting than fun. I don't mean to be negative since this is a wonderful experience, it's just that your patience will definitely wear thin after the novelty wears off (unless you're heavily medicated or something).
The entire journey is disappointingly brief. If Rae had the ability to run and you knew exactly where to go then I'd imagine that the whole game could be completed within minutes. However, it's much longer than that because she walks so slowly and you have no idea where you're going. You could probably finish it in well under an hour on your second playthrough since you'll know where to go. It's a rather uneventful journey as well considering most of the gameplay consists of aimlessly wandering around. The ending is satisfying, but everything that happens up to that point is insignificant as the small events that occur are nothing more than trivial. The most enjoyment I got during Rae's adventure was watching a perceived basket of fish turn into a sewer once she realised what it really was.
As an experience, Beyond Eyes is unmatched in its imaginative approach to crafting a breathtaking and heart-warming world. However, as a video game; it ends up feeling more like a tech demo than a full-fledged downloadable title.
- + Incredible concept will appeal to anyone with a heart and an appreciation for creativity
- + Amazing presentation complete with a gradually rendering world
- - Rae walks extremely slowly which makes backtracking a huge pain
- - The whole journey is exceptionally short
- - Nothing significant happens throughout