Look at the screen as you read this. Do you see what I see? You don’t have to. In fact, you shouldn’t. If you can’t see beyond the surface, you’re missing the point. The true soul of a game is in the depths, and to truly experience it you need to dive. Look away from the surface, and don’t come up until you’ve found what’s really there.
back in the day, there was an arcade in the town I lived in. I had been going to arcades since I was a kid, and I have fond memories of my time there: chasing down the elusive silverball in classic pinball games, or defeating the final boss of a run-and-gun platformer. And then there were those moments that stuck with me, the times when I stood still, my eyes fixated on the screen in front of me, my heart beating wildly in my chest as I waited for the next attack, or the bullets to fly to my screen.
When I sat down to write this review, I was completely speechless for the first time in my career. I started and stopped those first few sentences half a dozen times, and scrapped all attempts for this one because I didn’t know what to say or how to say it. Finally, I decided to use these specific words that you are reading now, which catalog my discomfort and anxiety after playing Before Your Eyes. I didn’t know how to justify it except to sit in it. A lengthy introduction to innovative game design or the unique qualities of interactive media seemed out of place as a starting point. It’s a game that deserves praise in those areas, and I’ll come back to that, but the lasting effect is overwhelming, and long after you hit the credits. Before Your Eyes is not a game like any other, so it’s no wonder it brought me to the brink of paralysis.
For your eyes Review: Don’t look back
Before Your Eyes’ The concept, and really the thesis, is summed up in the title. You know how they say your life can flash before your eyes? This experimental indie game from GoodbyeWorld Games attempts to do so in a playful way that no one has managed before. InBefore Your Eyes, players relive the life of a man named Benjamin Brynn. The game is played in the first person. The first moment, Ben finds himself aboard a ferry on his way to some sort of afterlife. The ship’s ferryman, an anthropomorphic wolf who dreams of being a star speaker, acts as your protector. It takes you to the gatekeeper who determines if your life has been exceptional enough to merit safe passage to the next. It’s like the place outside Purgatory is an exclusive club, and Ferryman helps you fill out the form. Then you tell your life story to the smuggler so he can consider it in a grand way. This is where the game’s unique core mechanics come into play. Using a webcam, Before Your Eyesfollows your face and pays particular attention to your blinking habits. In each scene, from childhood to the end of life, players must perceive as many moments in time as possible before they blink. Don’t blink and you’ll linger in the scene long enough to hear more conversations, maybe even all the scene has to offer. Blink before time and you lose part of the moment forever. Time jumps accompany every moment, so you never know if you’re being transported to the end of the day or the end of the decade. That doesn’t mean you should view every scene as an endurance test. On the contrary, there is something satisfying about blinking your eyes in the middle of a scene and losing some of your memories. In that sense, it is realistic. When we remember our fondest or perhaps most painful memories, we do not replay them one by one. They are vague, perhaps even dreamlike, more evocative than documentary. We fight to fill in the gaps we’ve forgotten. We act first and rationalize later. Over the years, this process penetrates deeper and deeper into our consciousness, and one day we get this story that looks like a storybook of our own lives, where every action has clear consequences and every decision is obvious as we make it, but it doesn’t really happen that way. InBefore Your Eyes , this is done beautifully: The player can subtly influence the story, but never sees where it is going. Benjamin, like the rest of us, forms a story in his head to explain his place on the ferry, but by the end of this 90-minute experience we realize that the universe is ruled by unpredictable chaos, not the order Ben has invented for himself. The use of a webcam is optional, andBefore Your Eyes is perfectly playable as a more traditional narrative adventure where clicking takes the place of winking. The game loses some of its magic if you play it this way, as several critical scenes where you’re not allowed to blink or the moment is reset use a cheat code that allows you to simply resist snipers instead of keeping your eyes open. But some of the game’s strongest moments require you to close your eyes, and I found them just as exciting without the camera, since I kept my eyes closed anyway. The acting is always at least very good, usually excellent, and the stylized images provide a picturesque backdrop that becomes increasingly important as little Benjamin begins to understand the world around him. As he grows up, you see his life behind the camera, at the piano and next to his best friend, each time through his trained eyes, which can make the game quite exploratory in terms of visuals. Each scene contains only what is important to remember, what is appropriate. No one can remember every tile, tree, car, or closet, even his happiest moment, so Ben remembers the important things, like how his mother dressed the day he had a piano audition or how his best friend’s hair was combed the night they sneaked off to sleep under the stars. Whether in front of or behind the camera, the images and sounds ofBefore Your Eyesare beautiful and often haunting. Every scene has a purpose, not a moment is wasted, and the small cast gives an intimate view of one man’s life and the people around him. Despite the supernatural introduction, this is a very down-to-earth, human story about a boy, a family, a neighbor, and what a life well lived can look like for those who leave it behind forever. Much of what makesBefore Your Eyes memorable has to do with spoilers that no one should ruin for themselves, but if you’re like me, the best praise you can give this game is the knowledge that it will break you. Without a doubt,Before Your Eyes is one of the most memorable and cathartic slams on video games. The unique use of lightning to develop the story is no gimmick either. It really enhances the game in a way that only video games can, by putting the player behind Ben’s eyes and not allowing him to look away if he wants to hold on to that moment a little longer. Just when I thought I hadBefore Your Eyes figured out, the proverbial rug was pulled out from under my feet and I was blown away. This happened so many times in 90 minutes that I could barely stay on my feet at the end. This is a game that knows exactly what it wants to do, and does it. Impressive enough even with modest objectives,Before Your Eyes dreams of more, introduces new mechanics, and tells a twisted story designed to hide the mage’s prestige until the right time. That’s exactly what happened to me, and I’d be surprised if anyone finds out before the game wants them to. This consistent excellence, especially in the final minutes of the game, makes this 90-minute experience my favorite game of 2021 and, in fact, one of my favorite games.
Before Your Eyes Review – The Conclusion of
- An unforgettable story about what makes life worth living.
- Beautiful images give the world an authentic and evocative tone.
- An inventive mechanism that uses your actual flashing light to play the game.
- Music that touches the heart, hits hard in the wallet
- He has something to say and does it eloquently.
- Leaving out the webcam game takes away some of the magic of the game.
Before Your Eyes is the kind of game you only come across once or twice a decade. Their revolutionary approach to the narrative adventure genre is brilliant and will likely never be repeated. It fits perfectly, but only here in Ben’s story. LikeEdith Finch andFirewatch , which told stories that only games can tell and used mechanics that will likely never be borrowed in other games,Before Your Eyes is both timeless and unique. [Note: Skybound Games provided a copy of Before Your Eyes, which was used for this review].