In Beyond Eyes you play the part Rae, a blind girl that has lost her cat. For anyone who’s lost a cat, this isn’t the easiest of tasks at the best of times, but to make matters worse, Rae is blind, and therefore the player can’t see either. Somewhat reminiscent of The Unfinished Swan, the screen is a completely blank sheet of white. Rae uses her remaining senses to find her way around the world. The chirp of a bird or the scent of a flower, ‘paints’ in a section of the landscape. It’s rather beautiful to see the colours of familiar objects re imagined in the game’s signature pastel watercolor art work.
However, the beauty of it all is overshadowed by the disorienting bleakness of having no sight. As the player, the clever mechanic makes you reflect upon the impact that losing a sense would have.
The objective of the game is literally just to find her ginger cat. The fact that such a simple storyline fills the entire game is a purposeful skew by the creator to illustrate how complex a task can be without sight. The entire cat chase takes around 2 hours to complete.
A lot of that time is spent just waiting for a sign that you’re doing something right, leading to concerns that you’ve missed something along the way. Every so often Rae will shout her cat’s name to let you know you’re on the right track, or you’ll hit a loading page as the next chapter buffers in. I was almost relieved to reach them at times as it gave me hope that a little more interaction was ahead, maybe some growth of some form, alas it never happened.
There were numerous times when I thought something a little more sinister lay ahead. Because the visuals are just what Rae imagines them to be, sometimes things aren’t as they seem and I wish that had been explored more a bit more. Each time a little tension and mystery was built it would be entirely demolished within seconds. What she first imagined to be something ominous was just an everyday item, although it did make me appreciate how terrifying the world must be without such a necessary sense, and even more so to a young child.
Towards the end, things start to get more challenging when heavy rain forms a blanket of noise, making it hard for Rae to decipher her surroundings. I thought that the game was finally stepping up a gear, only for the clouds to clear and the sun to come out again. There are fleeting glimpses of potential like this peppered throughout the gameplay, and yet I didn’t feel that it was ever explored enough.
I finished the game feeling like it could have been much much more. I can certainly see the messages that the creator intended the game to carry and I’m sure they’re satisfied with that. It’s thought provoking and you do feel empathy for the character. The problem is that beyond that there’s not much in it for the player. For a narrative game, there isn’t much narrative at all.
The mechanics and concept of this game are amazing; team that with a solid storyline and it would have been an unforgettable experience. It’s almost heartbreaking to think how good this could have been, and part of me hopes a sequel is made that builds on what’s already been laid out and adds a more captivating story.
Despite my criticism, it was a relaxing way to spend two hours and quite refreshing to see such an abstract concept come together for the visuals. If you find yourself drawn to games for beautiful artwork and enjoy the emerging genre of ‘walking simulator‘ , Beyond Eyes may be for you.
Midlife Gamer Rating: 5/10 Format: Xbox One Release Date: Out Now
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a copy of Beyond Eyes by the publisher for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of one week. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.