What seemed like a blink of an eye, Before Your Eyes game was over, measuring in at about an hour on the first playthrough, yet the feeling I took away from the experience was an eloquent bliss. There aren’t many games that compare, and if you’re short on time to read this Before Your Eyes review, please seek this out.
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Throughout this narrative-driven story that covers life and death, I was bewitched throughout. Despite usually taking a break here and there when reviewing a title, it was impossible with this game, from GoodbyeWorld Games and Skybound Games. Proof of how compelling it was, my three-year-old sat on my lap donning a second pair of headphones, and other than the odd ‘why?’ and innocent questions, she too was speechless.
Told from a first-person perspective, it appears that your soul has been selected, perhaps at random, by a wolf-like ferryman. Without any features or appendages other than a suggested eye, all you can do is blink to acknowledge your understanding.
He proceeds to inform you that you will be taken to the guardian, and pending you pass the test, will be accepted into her realm. But before this can happen, he wants to know more about you, and to do that, the story shifts to your experiences growing up, very much like your life flashing before your eyes.
But before describing the events, it’s essential to know how innovative Before Your Eyes is. The game is designed to be played with a webcam as it tracks your eye movements and blinking. You don’t need anything special as a standard setup should suffice, but rest assured you can play without one, which was my first experience, using a mouse.
The advantage with the mouse is the ability to linger around longer in a scene, as the characters in the game are just so wonderful to listen to, somewhat voyeuristic, but in a poetic sort of way.
This Before Your Eyes game is like a table read of skilled actors, producing a lucid clarity, but a spontaneity that is natural as honest dialogue. Conversations inform you of the key things you need to know, but hang around long enough, and you’ll pick up nuances as if the camera was left rolling. The ‘actors’ in the story fulfil their parts, almost ad-libbing in such believable rhetoric, it’s faultless as far as I’m concerned. The ferryman reeled me in immediately, but both Ben’s parents were superb.
I’m not the kind to give spoilers, but re-reading through my initial draft of this Before Your Eyes review, I felt there were a few hints where the story is going. Even if you end up reading another review or playthrough that shows the conclusion, you need to play it for yourself, without interruptions, if you can help it. In brief, the story relives pivotal moments of your life that defined you, focusing on photography, music and art.
An only child, your parents are your world, as well as your neighbour, Chloe, who is almost the polar opposite of Ben. Rebellious, but an innocent type who plays a part in his development. The story offers a linear approach, and if you were bored, you could predict the path it takes – only I found the story so spellbinding that I may as well have been one of the souls at the start of the game going with the flow and unassuming.
Throughout the Before Your Eyes journey, you will have the option to interact with a few outcomes, changing the gameplay slightly and unlocking achievements if you’re motivated in that way, but it does warrant repeat plays. Go with your instinct, then attempt to unlock everything later is my recommendation. Though the story has a defined arc, it doesn’t feel restrictive, and it’s a joy to be in each scene as if you were there.
Paired with a vibrant colour palette, the colour choices in Before Your Eyes are striking – especially when they pop straight out of a scene framed by a brush-like darkness, insinuating a little uncertainty in the recollections of memories. With music composition central to some of the memories, there are Beethoven and Bach pieces that you get to play in a ‘follow the light’ mechanic. However, it’s the original composition created by Ben’s mother that will stick with you.
Like a horoscope, you start picking out things that you think relate to you. I’m confident there will be parts of the story that you can personally identify with, know somebody with a related past, or perhaps you’ll empathise with the well-written dialogue.
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Before Your Eyes isn’t condescending, enforce any beliefs, nor does it focus on controversial or insensitive material for the sake of it. It’s not a dark story as such, but the themes covered are thought-provoking and will have you reflecting on your actions, even if it’s for a few minutes, though I’d wager more. Shortly after finishing, my little girl, who sat through about 90% of it, asked if we could immediately play again.
And that’s where we’ll wind this up. It’s a story that needs to be experienced, and I would recommend playing with the webcam as it’s even more immersive and the intention. While it’s a short playthrough each run, it’s engaging throughout and Before Your Eyes game is a title highly recommended if you’re one for heartfelt stories without being too bittersweet.
- A beautiful, touching story.
- Innovative gameplay.
- Thought-provoking after playing.
- Fantastic performances throughout.
- Lovely art style.
- Some of the characters can merge with the background.
- Could do with a few more interactions in some scenes.