Review: Beyond Eyes (PS4)

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Title: Beyond Eyes
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PlayStation Network Download (565 MB)
Release Date: September 8, 2015
Publisher: Team17 Software Ltd.
Developer: Tiger & Squid
Original MSRP: $14.99
ESRB Rating: E
Beyond Eyes is also available on Xbox One, PC, OS X, and Linux.
The PlayStation 4 download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Let’s get this out of the way before any reviewing starts. If you’re the type of person that doesn’t consider a title like Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture a “game”, you can save yourself a few minutes and stop reading here.

If, however, you played a game like Rapture and immersed yourself in the universe the developers created despite the lack of “pew pew” and slicing and dicing, then you might find this a very interesting experience.

Beyond Eyes is a minimalist game, telling the story of a young girl named Rae. During a celebration, she loses her site to a fireworks mishap. The game begins after she has recovered from her accident, minus the use of her eyes.

She spends a lot of time sitting on a bench in front of her cottage house. One day she receives a visit from a chubby cat that quickly becomes her friend. Rae looks forward to these encounters, and soon enough names the cat, Nani.

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Unfortunately, Nani’s visits become less and less frequent, and eventually cease altogether. Concerned for her feline companion, Rae embarks on a quest to find her.

Gameplay:
As I mentioned before, Beyond Eyes contains minimalist gameplay. Consider that you are “looking at the world” through the eyes of a blind child. That said, she once had eyesight, so she is familiar with how certain things look. This makes for game’s unique exploration technique.

Remember back in the original PlayStation days when games had that terrible draw distance? Well in Beyond Eyes the draw distance is worse, but this is by design and works well with the narrative.

Rae uses sound to navigate, so she can only perceive the things immediately around her. However, if she hears a bird or a bell in the distance, the object immediately appears in the distance, to exemplify how she envisions it.

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In addition to seeing the areas immediately surrounding you, Rae is able to remember places she’s been (to a degree). So if she’s walked around an area, you can look back and still see it for a few yards. This makes backtracking a bit easier.

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Rae walks slowly…. very slowly. If you thought Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture had a slow walk, then you would likely consider it a sprint compared to Rae’s trot.

However, it would absolutely break the narrative if this little girl was running through the environment without the use of her eyes. Also, the environments aren’t so large that the slow walk becomes unbearable, though I did sometimes wish she was a little faster.

… made me self-aware …
The goal of the game is to find your cat. You do so by being patient and listening to what’s around you. Sometimes, you might hear the cat, and as you rotate your camera, you might see a quick flash of him in the environment. Walking in that direction might reveal Nani or it might reveal something else.

One of the better experiences of this game was walking towards what I thought was a water fountain, only to find that my ears had deceived me, and I was really listening to something else. It made me self-aware, and opened my mind to the fact that some people actually experience this.

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Trophies are awarded for breaking away from the beaten path and trying new things.

Visuals:
The world of Beyond Eyes is revealed a step at a time. The screen is mostly white, with elements of the world materializing gradually as you take steps.

What we do see is pleasant to look at and serene. It’s a world I would love to see in its entirety, but its beauty also lies in what you can’t see. What we do see is presented in a storybook graphical style.

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Rae is a cute kid, and the way she walks around and interacts with the environment is adorable. And speaking of interacting with the environment, another interesting element of the way the world is revealed is the way she might envision a group of trees in front of her, only to realize that there is a wall between her and the trees. She realizes this as she reaches out to touch the walls.

For a game that is about not being able to see, Beyond Eyes looks great.

… an experience that you won’t soon forget …
Audio:
Audio probably plays a more important role here than anything we see. Dare I say that this game could potentially exist without the use of graphics.

Solving the game requires listening to what’s around you. You are, after all, looking for a cat, and Nani loves to “meow”. Playing this on the PlayStation 4 was excellent in that the DualShock speaker complemented the sound on the screen. My footsteps could be heard under me, truly driving home the notion that even the most rudimentary sounds were relevant here.

This image might seem like an upload error, but it represents the significant gameplay in Beyond Eyes.

This image might seem like an upload error, but it represents the significant gameplay in Beyond Eyes.

But again, some of the greatest moments in this game revolve around familiar sounds which paint an image on the screen that later proves to be something completely different once the source has been approached. There was an enlightenment playing this that I had never experienced in a video game.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is single-player only with no online component.

Conclusion:
I can’t caution gamers enough, that this is not a game for everyone. It has a $15 price tag and you will not being doing a lot of what you are accustomed to doing in a video game.

If you’re one of those gamers that loves titles like Flower, Journey, and Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, then Beyond Eyes is one of those games that might not make headlines, but it is an experience that you won’t soon forget.

Score:
8.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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