Sometimes video games offer a lot in concept and then it all leads to very little in execution; unfortunately this is the case with Beyond Eyes. Since it was announced at E3 2015, Beyond Eyes immediately grabbed my attention with its beautiful, water painting esque artsyle. The idea of controlling a character that was blind as she began a journey to locate a lost friend in an unseen world sounded genuinely unique, what went wrong?
Beyond Eyes has a simple narrative, you play as a young girl named Rae who sadly lost her ability to see after an accident involving fireworks. Rae slowly and I mean slowly makes her way around the world in an attempt to find her lost cat, Nani. The simple storyline alone is guaranteed to get some kind of emotional reaction out of players and I do feel it succeeds quite well in that department. While the storyline is simple and not to mention extremely short, I found myself engaged enough to finish the game and reach its sad conclusion.
The world around Rae initially appears completely white like a blank canvas. As she moves around, further details appear in bright, vivid colours; it’s undeniably beautiful. Rae is on a mission to locate Nani and does this by using her ability to hear and smell, it’s an interesting game mechanic but one that I feel is underutilized and could have been expanded on much more.
One of the biggest complaints about the game is how slowly Rae moves around the world and I completely understand the frustration. While it makes complete sense for her character to move at this pace, it just isn’t fun to crawl around a landscape that is already hard enough to navigate. It’s easy to get lost but you’ll find your way quick enough due to most of the world being blocked off by walls and fences. The amount of times I must have walked into a wall, if the idea of the game was to put the players in Rae’s shoes and make them feel what she does then I can’t really complain.
Throughout the restrictive world, there are a number of “truths” to be discovered. These are particular things that will appear in way that Rae would imagine them when they are revealed to be something entirely different. The sound of water trickling makes Rae imagine a beautiful fountain when in truth it’s simply a sewer pipe, it’s clever but these moments are few. The world may be pretty to look at but there just isn’t very much to discover within it.
Another criticism is the length of the game, it can easily be completed within an hour and that’s even with some exploration. A game like this couldn’t have gone on much longer so I appreciate the developers understood that but it’s painfully short for anyone who paid full price.
Well, there really isn’t much more that can be said about Beyond Eyes sadly. I’m not sure why but I expected more and instead I feel it will end up being very forgettable. It is beautiful and the story is sweet but as a game it doesn’t deliver much other than frustration and even boredom at times.
Beyond Eyes has a solid, creative concept that is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before in this medium but it delivers an experience that only very few will enjoy. Maybe beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder….