Disclosure ‐ I backed this game on Kickstarter. I have minimised my exposure to this game prior to playing it for this review.
I am fortunate. I do not have a disability. My eyes are fine, my hearing works and my body parts all function as they should. However, as a web developer I have experience designing sites to work with text readers such as JAWS. Learning about this amazing piece of software really showed me how simple tasks can become so much more convoluted. This is why I am excited about ‘Beyond Eyes’.
Beyond Eyes is a walking simulator that follows a girl who recently lost her sight. Using beautiful water colour art it tells of her seclusion within a greater world. Initially the whole world is white. As you walk around you start revealing the stunning world around you. The surrounding environment is filled with life that makes sounds which reveal places areas further away than arms length. There is little by the way of gameplay , but the story this game tells is both sweet and simple.
This game is not about a fast based story with action and adventures. It is much more about showing how without vision; sound, smell and touch can provide someone with information about the world around them. It aims to show that to the inexperienced, one thing can sound or smell much like another. It looks at the emotional pressure that occurs as a result of these kind of injuries.
While the game is about the girl Rae, it is the cat who is the force driving the story (and feels) forward. After loosing her sight, Rae spends much of her time in her garden. She befriends a cat, but as the year passes the cat fails to return and Rae forces herself out of the walled garden and into the greater world. She wants to find her friend.
From the very start there are certain features in the world that Rea is able to interact with. These are not so important for progressing the story as they are for exploring the character of Rae. Each of these interactions is tied to an achievement, of which there are 10. The way these are scattered around the world players are encouraged to explore off the normal path.
As this game is driven by its story I do not want to go into too much detail on what progresses. However, I will state that the story tells far more than what is presented just in text. It is about how Rae comes to terms with her new handicap and starts reaching out to others. It presents the emotional journey that she must travel to start reaching out to others again.
If you just aim to speed walk through this game you will find that it will only cover you for about 2 hours. It is not long. However. In it’s defence, it is also not trying to sell itself as a long game. The art style is incredibly beautiful and the story is charming. Beyond Eyes aims to enable people to experience some of the things that blind people do. It aims to bring a new perspective. I am glad to say that it does so admirably.
I do have a hard time thinking about whether I can suggest that you spend money on it or not though. At $15 it is not cheap. It is only short. However, it is very well crafted, well written and extremely beautiful. I think that all of these make it worth the money, as long as you come into it expecting an experience, not a game.