Publisher: Skybound LLC
Developer: GoodbyeWorld Games
Release Date: 04/08/2021
Also Available On
Gimmicks that use various types of hardware are nothing new since the days of the Wii made that mainstream, but very few games use your camera outside of a home console for gameplay. While it’s wholly gimmicky and can be played with a controller, the game uses your webcam to see your eyes blinking to determine when to change scenes in the game or interact with objects. Not often does the gimmick feel like it’s influencing something important, but when it does it works well.
You play as a boy named Benjamin Brynn floating along the river of death in a boat with a wolf as a ferryman. He’s to be taken to a being in a large tower whom he has to sell his life story so he can pass on and the ferryman can be paid. You start out as a child and you eventually learn your mother is an accountant and failed music composer and wants you to follow in her footsteps. Each scene is full of mostly black with just what you can remember being in view. Sometimes an eye will appear on objects for you to blink at and interact with. When a metronome appears you can blink and jump to the next scene or try to hold your eyes open and see the scene to the end. Most of the time I couldn’t do it (it’s very dry where I’m at here in the summer).
You slowly progress through the story only to find out that you need to retell the story correctly. I won’t spoil anything as to how or why, but the only times the blinking gimmick felt right was when you had to close your eyes to focus on someone talking. With headphones on this is a great effect. The game does a great job detecting your eyes even in low light, and I was using a laptop webcam which isn’t that great. There isn’t much else to this game. It’s an interactive adventure with interesting visuals. The whole game reminded me a lot of That Dragon, Cancer, but I can’t connect to this game as much as it’s shorter and at the time I was expecting my first child so that game hit home quite a bit. A big fear is your child being born with some sort of debilitating disease.
You’ll most likely not really feel the game’s impact until the last 20 minutes when things get really dark and sad. It didn’t make me tear up, but it was really sad for sure. You can finish the game in about 90 minutes, but I did connect with the character to an extent, but not wholly. The scenes rush by too fast and you’re meant to understand the moral of the story more than connect with the characters and get behind their motives and feelings. I feel a game like this misses the mark due to its short run time, but the gimmick would get tiring for more than 90 minutes.
Overall, Before Your Eyes is a charming game with a lot of heart and a fun gimmick that works well when it wants to. It’s a very short game and doesn’t let you really connect with the characters enough. It’s forgettable in the end, and not as memorable as some other short adventure titles I’ve played in the past, but it’s fun and worth a look.