Before Your Eyes Review
Great games innovate and explore new avenues for the medium. Auteurs such as Sam Barlow and Josef Fares have pioneered radical philosophies to create masterpieces that alter the norm. Before Your Eyes aims to follow suit with its unique approach to storytelling through eye-tracking control. While the concept is alluring, can the game manage to deliver more than just an interesting gimmick?
You play as the recently deceased Benjamin who is on his way to meet the Gatekeeper. As you make your journey toward the powerful entity, you relive aspects of your life. The ferryman needs to collect this information as he will present your actions to the Gatekeeper who will determine your afterlife. Graham Parkes manages to interweave a number of weighty themes in a tactful and honest manner into the story. The game manages to deliver a somber yet touching and even enlightening experience. The story beats are creative in their implementation, which helps the narrative resonate. This is an emotionally charged story, in other words. Don’t be surprised if you shed a tear or two.
The Story of Life Is Quicker Than the Blink of an Eye
The innovation lies in how Before Your Eyes uses eye-tracking technology to control the game. You will notices prompts appear which indicate to blink. When you do, this will progress the narrative and jump forth an unspecified amount of time. It’s a simple but wonderful premise that allows you to hang on to moments of the past as you physically force yourself to keep your eyes open. Tragically, this is not possible and these snippets of time will fade into the ether and lead you to your next memory. You also use blinks to do other small gameplay elements such as playing the piano and general interaction. While the tasks are basic, they make you feel like part of the world.
As the protagonist is silent, the narrative is driven through its supporting cast. Each of the characters you meet feels unique and due to the strong voice acting, connections quickly form. As the game is quite short, it’s remarkable how much I grew to care about these characters in so little time. While you are left wanting to learn and see more, this feels purposeful and adds to the melancholy story at hand.
There are some narrative choices that you need to make, however, these have little effect on what follows. These decisions ultimately allow you to take a slightly different path to the same destination. While this adds some replayability as you may want to experience other routes, it does feel like a missed opportunity. If choices had a consequence, this would create anxiety over decisions and encourage you to replay the game to see the outcome of a different choice.
A Forgotten Time
The simplistic graphical style helps balance the bleak themes that the story tackles. It seamlessly shifts its color palette to evoke an emotion creating moments of nostalgia and then anguish. While objects lack nuances in design, there is detail in each area which helps to transport you to the location. You will notice items in the environment that help add character to the person within which then creates a wider picture of their personality.
The score is magnificent and is the perfect accompaniment for the gloomy tale. As you and your mother share a love for the piano, the music revolves around the instrument. How the audio is crafted is masterful. It takes you on a journey that leads you through several emotions and heightens the impact of narrative sequences.
Before Your Eyes is a unique game that deals with difficult themes. Its story is, at times, tough to digest and will keep you on the edge of tears throughout its short run time. How you interact with the game is both unique and clever. As a blink progresses the narrative, you feel part of the world and form strong connections with those who inhabit it. While the addition of choices feels like an afterthought, this is a special narrative-driven title that is a must for fans of the genre.
***PSVR 2 code provided by the publisher for review***
- Heartwrenching Story
- Innovative use of Eye-Tracking
- Wonderful Score
- Simplistic Art Style
- Meaningless Choices
- Short Experience