Your senses will fool you.
I was immediately enamored by the concept behind developer tiger & squid’s new game, Beyond Eyes. In it you play as a ten-year-old girl named Rae who was blinded as a child during an accident involving fireworks. Since then, she befriended a cat named Nani who has recently run away, and naturally, Rae sets out alone to find her. It’s her first time leaving the house by herself and the world can be a little bit scary, but it’s also transcendently beautiful.
When Rae sets off, she is surrounded by a watercolor patch of ground, which itself is an island in a white world. As she takes steps along the path beneath her feet, more of the environment is painted in. The effect is much like The Unfinished Swan in that the player slowly reveals the scenery, but you thankfully don’t have to sling paint around to accomplish it. Making huge strides along your path is slow-going, but every now and again, when you look back behind you, the area you’ve unearthed is breathtaking. Almost every view is a worthwhile photograph.
Rae is not exactly Daredevil or Toph Beifong (for all you Avatar fans out there) in her ability to navigate her surroundings. Although you’re treated to lush foliage and picket fences as you walk along, there are cues, which indicate that you’re only witnessing her imagination. For example, while walking along, in the distance I saw a beautiful stone fountain, but once I neared it, the structure immediately transformed into a leaky drainpipe. The sense of hearing is not always reliable.
I really enjoyed these moments and others which contributed to the emotional connection I formed with Rae. There are cheerful times when sheep are bleating in the distance, each popping in and out of view with their cries. Yet there are dark times too, when crows squawk and tease the girl and the watercolors take a notably somber palette in contrast to before. Eventually, I came across a long black cloud blocking my way with loud whooshing sounds emanating from it. With some investigation, I came across a traffic signal, and pushing it stopped traffic and opened a passable gap.
There is clearly a lot of consideration at play for how a young, blind girl may “see” the world, and I’m definitely intrigued to see more or what Beyond Eyes has to offer. It’s slowly paced and without complicated controls, but there were a variety of emotions expressed in the demo. We’ll see how the final product shapes up when it’s released in Q3/Q4 of this year for PC and Xbox One.