Beyond Eyes PS4 Review
Publisher: Team17 Developer: Tiger & Squid Genre: Adventure
Players: 1 Age Rating: 3+ Other console/handheld formats: Xbox One
For a game about blindness, Beyond Eyes is surprisingly vibrant. Taking control of a 10-year-old blind girl called Rae, the colourful world forms around you as you walk through it and, if anything, the game must be credited for bringing to light the heartbreaking and life changing disability that is sudden blindness.
Rae was blinded due to a fireworks accident, and not only does she lose her sight, but she also loses her confidence, causing her to fear loud noises and public places and leaving her as a virtual recluse. In this way, the game also shows the mental scars that can linger once losing one of your most important senses and, again, the game must be praised for this.
At the start of the game, Rae befriends a cat called Nani, and it’s this cat that gives her the confidence to leave her home. When Nani goes missing, Rae tasks herself with finding her feline companion, and has to muster up the courage to face the dangers of the dark world around her.
As Rae is meant to be completely blind, she is forced to visualise the world around her as she expects it to be. Making use of her remaining senses, hearing, touch and smell, the delightfully placid countryside shapes around you as you explore it, forming into view from white nothingness in a similar way that The Unfinished Swan’s world does. The game also looks very attractive thanks to the vivid colours and watercolour look, giving the game a believable and childlike definition of beauty. The visuals are accompanied by sound effects such as birds tweeting merrily and a rather haunting soundtrack. Beyond Eyes is undoubtedly a very beautiful and artistic game.
As Rae has lost her sight, the developer Tiger & Squid has also factored it into Beyond Eyes as a disability, but as the game couldn’t entirely depict blindness to a player with sight, there’s a feeling that we are accompanying Rae in her tale as opposed to completely being in her boots. With that said, while the world does form around you, things often turn out to be not what Rae expects them to be. Rather than you remaining oblivious in the way that Rae is to these events, you are always eventually told, however, when one of her remaining scents betrays her, with a car transforming into a lawnmower for example. This depicts Rae’s struggle with her disability to you, and how she can only visualise so much without her true visual sense and, if anything, the game is successful in making one grateful of still having their sight.
The problem with Beyond Eyes is that there really isn’t much to the two to three hour experience that it presents to you. Rae walks really slowly through the environments, and while she has such sluggish movements for obvious reasons, it does make the game feel drawn out and more boring than it could have been, and that’s not a good sign when taking into consideration the brevity of the game. Rarely getting away from the gameplay mechanic of walking and mentally creating the environments around you, the lack of variety is also irksome, and while the minimalistic story can be heart-warming at times, it can hardly be called a major driving point. The likes of Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture was much more successful at telling its tale, and as beautiful as it is, Beyond Eyes unfortunately isn’t quite as successful at telling a visual story as the likes of Journey and Flower were either.
Beyond Eyes is a beautiful walking simulator with a worthy message, although it’s just a shame that the game built around it couldn’t have been a better one. It’s a decent enough and relaxing experience while it lasts, but with little substance in the game or its story, it’s disappointing that the rest of the experience couldn’t have matched up to its powerful and meaningful message, and it’s a message that the game otherwise tries so hard to get across to you.