PAX East 2015: IMPRESSIONS: Beyond Eyes

Friday, March 13th, 2015

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Beyond Eyes - Logo | oprainfall

Video games have been around a long time. Even so, they typically follow a certain formula. You can get a sense of what a platformer, first-person shooter, or role-playing game is just by their label. They’re all still fun, but it can get stale after a while. This is why I like to applaud developers who try to do something different, who make a game that follows its own rules and even pushes the boundaries of what a game actually is. Beyond Eyes is such a game.

The premise of Beyond Eyes is that you play as a young blind girl named Rae who is looking for her lost cat. Because the character can’t see what’s out ahead of her, neither can you. Off in the distance, all you see is white, like a blank canvas waiting to be painted on. And, as you walk around the area, Rae’s other senses — primarily touch and hearing — are used to discover the surrounding landscape, which is filled in as if someone is painting the area with watercolors. It’s really a surreal experience to wander around, know there’s a bridge in front of you because you can see the opening, but not be able to see the bridge itself until you walk on it.

Beyond Eyes | oprainfall

Every once in a while, you’ll hear a noise nearby coming from the missing cat — or, at least, what Rae perceives to be the cat, as once you arrive there is no cat in sight. Other noises in the distance can be heard too, such as a flock of birds flying out of a tree, or a church bell ringing in the distance. These loud, sudden noises have a tendency to frighten Rae, who moves slower in response. I had entered one area that seemed really creepy to me. I think there may have been a house nearby, but couldn’t be sure, and didn’t want to go check. There was a dark purple-esque aura to the area and Rae began to shudder. She crossed her arms and kept her head down as if she was scared of what’s around. I got the sense that this was not an area I should be in, so I turned around and headed away. As I put some distance between us and the creepy yard, Rae cheered up again.

The ambiance of the music meshes incredibly well with the atmosphere of the game. It’s almost unnoticeable, but at the same time helps to deliver a powerful experience, almost like something you’d expect from an ASMR recording.

While I certainly enjoyed the 20 minutes I spent with the demo, I know this isn’t a game for everyone. If you’re considering playing this game, “fun” probably isn’t the word you’re looking for. Instead, think of it as an experience. It’s a game of exploration and discovery. I can hear the people saying it’s not a game, but it is; it’s been Greenlit on Steam and is expected to be released this year by Team 17. If you are into these kinds of games, Beyond Eyes is one I’d suggest you look forward to.

About Eric Chetkauskas

Eric has been playing video games for longer than he can remember. His interests skew toward retro games with an emphasis on Japanese RPGs like Chrono Trigger and the Dragon Quest series.