Whilst it’s great to take in the hustle and bustle of the Xbox One’s AAA titles, fast racers and even faster run and gunners, every now and then it’s good to sit back, controller in hand, taking in a story and vision that is a world away from the norm.
Beyond Eyes gives you the chance to do just that.
After losing her sight in a fireworks accident, Rae, a young traumatised blind girl who rarely leaves the house, finds comfort in her special garden, filled with smells, pleasantries and a ginger tom whom she befriends. However, when Nani the cat goes missing, Rae needs to confront her fears to leave the garden in search of her feline soulmate.
Set as a third person viewpoint, she’ll need to venture through all four seasons, with wind and rain pummeling down as she utilises her full range of senses to overcome the one thing that she really misses; her sight. With the world covered in a white mist, it is up to you to help Rae find Nani, helping navigate her through the unfamiliar sights and smells that encompass the outside world. But not all is as it initially seems, with waterfalls turning into old sewage pipes, and cat bells turning out to be nothing more than disappointment.
And if I’m honest, disappointment is the overruling factor with Beyond Eyes.
Visually and audibly, there is no doubt that it’s a bit of a stunner. The beautifully worked water-coloured world unfolds lovingly before you, with the uncovering of Rae’s surroundings popping up at just the right pace. With a swirl of the brush, a house will appear, a river will wind its way through the town and the aggressively barking dog will appear not before it’s too late. With Rae’s hearing becoming more and more prominent as she progresses in her search for not just Nani but indeed her inner self, you’ll not only need to keep an eye out for the popping visuals but also a keen ear to entice you further in.
Thankfully the sounds that frequent Rae’s world are both delightful and prominent, with cheeping birds helping you pick out the route to success, clattering gates causing havoc with Rae’s senses and the occasional meow from a cat picking up the enthusiasm when all seems lost.
But beauty and delights don’t always make an enthralling game and Beyond Eyes is just too slow paced for my liking. Now, I’m not one of those who constantly run and gun in Call of Duty, and am more than happy to test out a wide variety of genres and titles, but never in my life have I felt the urge to grab a fast paced shooter just to break up the monotony that Beyond Eyes brings.
Granted, it aims to tell the story of a blind girl who has to tread carefully in life, but throughout the three hours it took me to discover Rae’s full experience, I was near on begging for a little pace to be brought to the game, with a run button (or even a slight jog) never being sought after so much.
Whilst the areas Rae takes in are small, the walking pace she takes on ensures that it seems to take an age just to discover that the path you are wandering down is a dead end…before having to shuffle slowly back the other way again in order to take the correct route. Discovery is the name of the game but with so few prompts helping Rae out, I sometimes wonder if it was best she stay at home in her gorgeous garden.
Yes, a burst of pace would no doubt ruin the whole tale that is trying to be told, but occasionally, just occasionally, games have to hold even the smallest resemblance of fun. Beyond Eyes falls down deep on this factor and when coupled with the feeling that the vast majority of what Rae takes in is just put in place as a time filler (there really is nothing more to it than just following your nose and hoping), and you’ll quickly realise that whilst the intentions are great and the execution of that intention is good, sometimes the very best target needs to be moved to one side slightly.
Beyond Eyes isn’t a bad game at all, in fact, it does the job it was meant to do beautifully. If you are after a slow paced emotional story that will only take you an evening to fully experience, then by all means take a punt on the cheap price.
Just don’t expect anything more than a slow plod through the world of a blind girl.