Beyond Eyes - Xbox One Review

Beyond Eyes is not your typical game - in fact some might not be comfortable calling it a game at all. Certainly it is interactive as you control the protagonist Rae, but the puzzle elements are incredibly light. It probably falls most comfortably in the recent sub-genre of adventure games dubbed walking simulators. If you frame your expectations properly going in, odds are you will find Beyond Eyes a unique and almost enchanting experience. However, for those looking for more action and more varied gameplay elements, they will likely come away disappointed.

The entire premise exudes a sort of beauty and charm, due to the small girl we get to control, the beautifully painted world that while more colorful, readily reminds of The Unfinished Swan in how the mechanic reveals the world around the player slowly. The world has a gorgeous, painted aesthetic that makes uncovering it an absolute pleasure as you guide Rae through it. The reason that the world is slowly unveiled is due to Rae's blindness. This small girl leads an understandably sheltered life and her brief adventures in this game take her away from the confines of what she knows into a world she has never truly explored before.

The reason for this exploration is the loss of a cat named Nani she considers to be her one true friend. This cat has not returned, so Rae sets out to find her friend. It is an adorable premise that also reminds us of just how lonely the world can be for those who have a disability or are in some way different from 'the norm'. Rae makes for a sweet, enduring primary character, and exploring the world the development team was a process that I enjoyed more often than not.

However, I used the word 'slowly' previously, and this term can be used to describe much of the game. I suspect that the sluggish pace will not suit everyone - or even the majority of players. Rae's movements are slow and halting. These are not the tank-like controls of the horror games of yesteryear. This is a small girl who cannot see and she is slowly exploring an unfamiliar environment without help. Her movements should be measured and cautious. Does that always make for the most engaging gameplay? Probably not, but it suits the game's themes.

The puzzle elements are really quite simple, essentially amounting to fetch and return. Someone needs something (though admittedly why would you task a blind girl with finding anything is beyond me, that does feel a bit like a jerk move kid) and bringing it back. If you are thoroughly exploring Rae's environment, Beyond Eyes can last for a few hours. If you are just making a streamline trek through the game to reach the ending (which is a suitably satisfactory conclusion to the story that shows a lot of heart), Beyond Eyes can probably be beaten in about half of that time. This is not a title that has a great deal of replay value, and it is more of an experience than a game and its pace is absolutely a measured, almost plodding thing.

It is hard not to compare Beyond Eyes to The Unfinished Swan. Both games reveal a blank world to a child exploring it for the first time. The biggest difference is that Beyond Eyes uses a much more passive mechanic for revealing the world, whereas The Unfinished Swan makes you an active participant in doing so. There are more challenges in The Unfinished Swan as well. It was not a hard game by any means, but there was the sense that there was a bit more to do. That does not diminish the impact of what Beyond Eyes is attempting to do here, but I bring it up to illustrate that while the two games have a similar visual style, the way they play is actually quite different.

For those reasons just stated, I do not think Beyond Eyes will appeal to a vast majority of gamers. However, for those who like to experience a story or are looking for something new and different, Beyond Eyes delivers a unique experience that I found worth exploring personally. It made me think, it made me feel and in the end it created a memorable experience that will linger for me well beyond having completed the game.

Platform Xbox One

Developer(s) Tiger and Squid
Publisher(s) Team17 Digital Ltd
Genre(s) Adventure
Mode(s) Single Player
Other Platform(s) PC

Article by Nick

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