REVIEW: Before Your Eyes

An innovative game using your blinks as a way of driving the story. A polished and accomplished narrative adventure that is short but powerful and emotional.

Released: Steam
Type: Single-player
Genre: Adventure
Developer: GoodbyeWorld Games
Publisher: Skybound Games
Release date: 8 April, 2021

Intro🎬

Before Your Eyes is a first-person narrative adventure with a unique mechanic that is designed to immerse you in the story.

By using your webcam, you will be able to use your blinks to control the flow of the story, make choices and interact with objects.

The game is fully voice acted and is also playable without a webcam. No data or footage is captured whilst the webcam is in use.

Story📕

The Ferryman acts as the narrator and accompanies your journey through life.

You emerge on a boat travelling towards a formidable tower in the distance.

On board, the ferryman explains that you are in the afterlife. A lost soul, who needs to convince the gatekeeper that you are worthy to enter his kingdom.

The ferryman acts as your council in this deed and his job is to convey your life to the gatekeeper.

Unfortunately, by his own admittance he is a terrible orator and even carries around a thesaurus for dramatic effect. Around his boat perch all his previously failed defenses, who have been turned into birds to spend eternity in purgatory.

The ferryman sends you back to your life so he can witness all the good deeds you have performed and relay these back in your hearing.

Gameplay🕹️

Your blinks act as your left mouse button in basic terms.

Blinking can select objects, interact with objects and move the story forward.

When an eye symbol appears, you can move your mouse over it and select it with a blink. This often causes an affect to an object or scene and moves that scene forwards.

The eye symbol can reveal more graphical content, moving the story onwards.

When a pencil icon appears, moving your mouse over it and blinking puts you into drawing mode where you can draw an item on a bit of paper. The image often circulates between different versions of the image and a blink chooses the image you want to draw.

When a metronome appears, a blink will move you on to the next scene entirely. Any present dialogue, eye or pencil icons not used will immediately be discarded and the scene disbanded.

Sometimes, you will be presented with a choice which will have an affect on the storyline. Some of these options are timed and you only have a few seconds to decide, whereas major plot line choices have no time limit.

A major plot line.
Each choice will send you down a different story path.

The mechanics are imaginatively used throughout the story. You’ll get opportunities to play the piano, write on a typewriter and interact with all kinds of objects, for example.

It is a simple game to control using either the mouse or your webcam and mouse. It would certainly be suitable for all ages.

There are a number of achievements. The majority of them are easiest to achieve without the webcam feature. After the game is completed, you’ll be able to access any chapter again.

Graphics 🕹️

Visuals are gorgeous and interestingly choreographed for heightened effect.

Selecting various icons reveals graphics and in turn reveals story plots. Characters look good and have a surprising amount of emotion on their faces for cartoon like characters.

Your next door neighbour Chloe plays an intricate part in the story.

Everything is bold bright and aesthetically pleasing.

Sound🎵

There are some beautiful musical scores throughout which compliment the emotional story perfectly. Sound effects are also excellent and the voice acting is superb.

Verdict

Before Your Eyes is a very emotional story which left me with a huge lump in my throat afterwards. It is extremely polished and wonderfully presented.

Voice acting is superb and full of feeling and emotion, and the graphics look gorgeous being imaginatively conveyed on screen.

I was a bit dubious about the blinking mechanic but I had no issues with calibration or how effective the blinks were. My blinks always registered and it worked perfectly.

The only issue I had with the mechanic was it can become very tiresome on your eyes. If you enjoy a good story this game certainly has it, but often the story was missed because I blinked and the story moved on to the next section.

Dialogues can go on quite long. Certainly longer than most people can stare without blinking so it is inevitable that you are going to miss some of that dialogue. At the time, I found this incredibly annoying as I wanted to see and hear everything that was on offer.

I played through the game again without the webcam and I wish I had chosen this option to begin with. Even though some of the dialogue I had missed was incidental and trivial, some of it was not, and it helped fill in gaps in the story I had missed the first time.

It is certainly worth playing the game twice as there are choices to be made during the game which will affect how the story unfolds. It was enjoyable to choose different options and watch how they panned out. The game takes two hours to complete.

Ultimately, the blinking mechanic is original and innovative but I’m not convinced it really helps immerse you in the story more than just using the mouse.

Before Your Eyes is a superior example of a short narrative adventure.
It delivers on all fronts and manages to be fresh, imaginative and innovative.
The blinking mechanic is sometimes more of a hindrance than the immersive tool it promises to be but the game works perfectly well without it and is not needed.

This is a game that stands high on the shoulders of the genre, and whether you find the blinking mechanic effective or not, it still delivers a first-class experience in all departments.

Written by
Janner
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