I had seen videos and articles on Beyond Eyes a few years back and had always meant to look into it so a few weeks ago I took the plunge and finally bought it for £3 something on the PlayStation store. However, it wasn’t exactly what I expected…
SPOILER ALERT, I have to talk about the ending of this game so read ahead at your own risk.
In Beyond Eyes, you play as 10-year-old Rae who due to an accident involving fireworks, is blind. The accident causes her to feel isolated and alone however one day she makes a new friend; a cat that she names Nani! Seasons pass and Nani is a regular in Rae’s garden except one day, Nani stops coming to visit; It’s now your job as Rae to go and find Nani.
As soon as the game begins the entire screen is white apart from Rae, once you start walking however your surroundings start appearing in the same way that watercolour paints blend and bleed onto paper, this is to demonstrate how Rae – a blind child – would take in her surroundings using sound, smell and touch and this is basically the entire game, as Rae you walk around this blank canvas until you; the player can start to piece together her environment to figure out which way Nani might have gone. Sounds simple enough, right? WRONG, Rae will be confronted with obstacles throughout for instance; trees, bushes, fences, etc. aren’t visible until Rae touches them meaning you could see what you believe to be an empty field for you to walk through until you walk straight into a fence and have to somehow find your way around it whilst every fence panel appears one at a time, you never know where it started or ends! Rae will also encounter things that she’s afraid of, we will see a Crow or a Dog however she can only hear them so is too afraid to walk too close to them, meaning you have to give them a wide birth which just adds time onto your journey, it can be a little frustrating.
I did find some faults with this game though, I’m not sure what I was expecting as I believe it has a run time of around 2 hours (depending on who’s playing) but it was very slow, Rae has the smallest, slowest steps ever (which I guess is understandable seeing as she can’t see where she’s going, of course she’s going to be cautious!) but this meant it took you ages to uncover all of the environment that she was in, meaning it took you ages to find which way to go in order to progress. The reaction time was pretty slow too, if you relaxed your thumb on the analogue stick even the tiniest bit whilst Rae was walking, she would stop, meaning you would have to start her off walking again which had a 1 second delay before she actually took a step, I mean this isn’t a big problem, it’s just an added frustration when you’ve been walking around in circles for 45 minutes. The last slow problem I’ll mention is the loading screens, they honestly took around a minute to load each new location or cutscene but you know, I’ll give the studio the benefit of the doubt, I believe it’s a fairly small company that made this game.
Some positive things about this game, firstly it’s incredibly sweet! I’m a sucker for any story that involves a child and an animal friendship and visually; It’s so stunning, everything is shown in pale watercolours and I believe it’s set in (what I assume is) the English countryside so there’s fields, lakes, farm animals, cottages and small towns to pass by, it’s all very lovely to look at.
So this isn’t the most action-packed game in the world, there isn’t really too much to it as far as I knew, I did check the trophies in this game however and found out that there were mini tasks for you to do like sit on the swing or pet the dog but they don’t tell you this in the game! There aren’t any instructions, as far as I knew you just walked until you found the cat which I did… kind of.
Now stop reading now if you don’t want any story spoilers.
The last thing I will say about this game, the one thing that the developers did which was unforgivable, let me set the scenario for you; you’ve put a solid 2 hours of gameplay into this game; walking around, getting lost, crossing a busy road literally blindly, to try and find your only friend: Nani the cat, you’ve seen him around and every time you think you’ve found him, he runs off again. You do all of this only to realise that Nani the cat hasn’t been visiting lately because Nani the cat had DIED. That’s right, Rae the blind, lonely child who only has one friend in the world, sets off on a journey that’s clearly very difficult for her, only to not find her buddy in the end. That my friends is when I decided that this game - although very pretty and challenging - was a giant waste of my time. I do not however regret spending £3 on it so, you know; swings and roundabouts.
Give it a go, even if you just want an English countryside walking simulator!