Since the beginning of gaming time we have had the unique chance to follow someone else’s life or profession; the world through their eyes. If you always wanted to be a city planner, you were covered. If you wanted to be a firefighter in an empty German airport, you had options. If those dreams of being an astronaut trying to find their way home to Earth kept coming to the fore, there is a game for you. However, until now it is probably pretty unlikely that you have played any game through the eyes of a baby. Added to that, most people haven’t played as a baby trying to survive the night from unknown horrors in their bedroom. If this experience is something you’ve been wishing for all these years then The Childs Sight is the game for you.
The Childs Sight comes with two game modes – story mode and a time attack mode. The former is the meat and drink, letting you unlock all the chapters and then replay them to your heart’s content. You start each chapter in the wreckage of an attic, which used to hold a baby’s bedroom. Here you can free-roam around the room, picking up old, worn toys and finding lost notes on walls or on dressers. These notes give a hint of the narrative and maybe some clues to what might have happened here. When you feel you have explored enough you then click on a baby’s crib sitting on the floor. Then the real game begins as you are transported into the baby’s memories, and a night of horror…
What happens next is played out in the first person, as you are in the body of a baby. The rest of the room around the crib that you sit in is shrouded in shadows and the main task for this baby is to fall asleep without letting what lies in the shadows come and, well, kill you? I ask a question, because I’m not sure of the intention.
The gameplay itself is something that many might describe as spinning plates, and I’m going to join that club. What you have to do is try and press the B button so you can get to sleep, keeping an eye on a counter that shows the progress of your sleep gauge, so that when it fills up the level is complete and you’re thrust on to the next stage. Simple, yes? No… no it isn’t.
You see, you have several things you have to do before this can happen. For example, there is a children’s lightbox carousel in the crib that needs switching back on if it stops moving. There is also a lamp that can be switched on, with you needing to stand up to bring light. The problem is, if it’s off a horrible entity will creep out of the closet and get you. Things get weirder though – if you leave the lamp switch on there will be a knock at the door after a while and you need to switch the light off before another horrible entity comes in and gets you. As you progress further new plate spinning tasks get added to the roster; some scratching under the crib and a rocking chair that starts moving on its own that requires you to seek comfort from a toy make you unable to complete any other task. It’s all a question of keeping everything in balance and trying to get to sleep before the timer runs out.
There is something utterly intriguing and unique about The Childs Sight the first time you play it. Fail at your task and the horrible beings get you; these are genuine jump scare moments that terrify the bejesus out of you. But the problem comes when that jump scare soon loses its impact, and the whole plate spinning dynamic of the gameplay becomes tiresome and a bit boring. Boring in games is never good.
Visually the game has a nice creepy tone, delivered via colour to the world of the bedroom. Things are hidden in shadow and the view from the baby’s POV does give an extra level of terror. And again, much like in the gameplay elements, whilst the big bad is creepy the first time you see it, it very quickly loses its impact.
The sound design is key here though, not only in creating atmosphere but also being a key aspect of the game design. You’ll want to play The Childs Sight on Xbox with headphones on if you can because it makes the experience much more immersive as you listen out for every creak, knock or scratch. It’s not as easy as that sounds though, as the sound designer has cleverly put in red herrings – things like the introduction of thunder from the outside – to confuse you. On the whole, the soundscape is done excellently throughout.
If you are after a night of horror and are looking to play something a bit different with unusual gameplay techniques, The Childs Sight might be worth a punt, mainly as it’s very cheap to pick up. The sound design is excellent and the concept is unique, but for me the gameplay wanes quite quickly and eventually you’ll become more frustrated than scared.