Saturday, July 16, 2016

VGR Beyond Eyes

I really wanted to go back to reviewing some adventure games for a while, and I since I did an Hudson Soft title not long ago, I decided to have a look at a Team17 game this time (my two favorite developers from back in the 90s).

VGR: Beyond Eyes 
From Tiger & Squid/Team17 Digital Limited
Played on PC
Also available on PS4 & Xbox One

Type Adventure game
Year August 2015

Video games have come a long way since the old text-based PC adventure games and action titles in the arcades.

With the tools and the technology available nowadays, video games can finally be more mature and explore all sorts of themes and storytelling devices. We've come a long way since all gameplay could be summarized to killing enemies and jumping over stuff.

Here's a little title that intrigued me as soon as it was first announced.

Beyond Eyes is an adventure game co-developed by Tiger & Squid in collaboration with Team17.  The game was directed by Sherida Halatoe, and it was based some of her personal experiences wanting to explore something different through gaming.

The entire game was developed with the Unity tool.

Beyond Eyes follow a 10-year old girl named Rae.

Rae just lost her sight in an accident with fireworks.

At first she remains closed on herself. Traumatized by the events that caused her blindness, she don't ever want to leave her home anymore. She just sits in her garden.

But on a summer day a stray cat she calls Nani comes to her garden. The two quickly become friends.

Seasons pass. And one day, Nani just stops coming by...

Rae finally summons her courage and decides to ventures outside, looking for Nani.

The adventure begins...

The whole game is dedicated to the memory of Sherida Halatoe's parents, she named the characters after them Ray Halatoe and Nani Halatoe.

Like any good adventure game, gameplay takes the form of the storytelling. And in this game there's not even any dialogues!

You control Rae from a third person perspective. At first the world she navigates in is all white, like a blank open canvas. The nearby objects she can "sense" and what she touches gets highlighted with watercolors.

Using her sense of sound, touch, smell or even taste, Rae will picture the world around her inside her head.

There's no actual "interact" button! The game doesn't really have actual puzzles like other adventure games, nor a game over screen. It's all about exploration, just guiding Rae around a correct path, exploring this huge interactive blank canvas.

Elements will change as you get closer and clearly identify them. Sometimes Rae might misinterpret the scenery. Some piece of clothing might reveal itself to really be a scarecrow once you get closer to it!

There's not even a "run" button either in this game, and it really works in this game's favor to take things slow and try to adapt along with it.

Sometimes Rae might get frightened by things around, and go back to her scared closed state.

You have to understand if nearby "threats" block her path or if the sound of cars distant enough to cross the street.

When she gets in her scared posture colors get darker...

Originally Beyond Eyes was going to be a much more traditional game when it was started way back in 2011. Rae was then a 20-year old, and she wasn't looking for her cat but to the way back to the hospital. While the first part was more or less the same, the second act would have been after her receiving an operation, rediscovering to see the world and falling in love with someone (!).

I'm just glad this is how the game ended up like.

Sure, the game is not without big flaws. It's really, really short and pretty simple to navigate through. It only takes longer if, like me, you want to try exploring every single corner of the world. There's some interesting things to discover around (like the sound of a frog on a bridge, the smell of fresh bread on a window, smelly fish near the docks, etc.).

It's more about the experience of it than anything else, really.

But like any good piece of entertainment, in my eyes, be it a movie, a game or a book, it should always revolve around capturing time in a bottle will you get entertained. Putting you in another world while you live a unique experience. And that's where this game really shines through.

Beyond Eyes is game about loss. The universe is here literally an open canvas. Your senses start filling in the gaps. The sound of the wind making a tree crack starts injecting some color, some life on the big picture. Beyond Eyes is in a way about the purest form of exploration. In every direction are infinite possibilities in your landscape. This might not be how blind people actually "see" the world, but it certainly tries to feel close to their senses. Blindness is not darkness.

Overall, Beyond Eyes is a really great unique experience. A really original and different idea for an adventure game.

I expected a lot out of this game. And it actually came through.

The game is probably not to everyone's taste. (Then again, what game really is?) For some this might not even be enough for a game (but I wouldn't exactly call a lot of smartphone games "games" either). But I feel like you should at least give this one a look, if anything just for the sake of checking out something different.

Beyond Eyes comes Recommended! Give it a look if you like the genre or are looking for something different.

I give it:
2.5 / 3 Murrays!

No comments:

Post a Comment