Before Your Eyes Review – Don’t Blink Twice

    Title: Before Your Eyes
    Developer: GoodbyeWorld Games
    Release Date: April 8, 2021
    Reviewed On: PC
    Publisher: Skybound Games
    Genre: Adventure

If your life flashed before your very eyes, what events do you think you would see? What memories would define who you are and what you’ve done? Before Your Eyes is a first-person narrative adventure that considers these questions as your character has reached the afterlife. For your soul to move on, a ferryman must know your life’s story to see if you are worthy. So, he sends you back to relive the most important moments of your life and determine your outcome.

Before Your Eyes allows you get to control the narrative of the game, but not with your typical keyboard and mouse or a controller. Instead, your eyes are the only tool you need. That’s right. You blink to play. Your blinks determine the interactivity you get from this game and the pace you would like to go at.

To use blinking as the main method of interaction is quite a bold and innovative choice. To partake in the full experience, you will need to have a webcam to track your eyes. Luckily, the devs at GoodbyeWorld Games accounted for those that wear glasses. That being said, if you don’t have a webcam, there is an option to play the game without one, but it does break the immersion considerably.

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Additionally, there’s also an option to adjust and calibrate the eye-tracking. I had to adjust it a couple of times as I had moments where the game misread my ocular cues. Luckily for me, I had these instances occur at minor moments. However, I can see cause for frustration if it occurs during a major event. Despite those tiny hiccups, it was generally a solid and steady experience blinking my way through the life of the character.

You play a boy named Benny, reliving his significant moments from birth to death. As the ferryman mentions in the opening moments, your blinks move the adventure forward in the timeline. Throughout the game, you can interact with some objects with your blinks as well, allowing you to be more immersed in his story.

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Before Your Eyes allows you to witness the key moments in Benny’s life, whether it be the precious moments of warmth and affection from his family or the first time he falls in love. The game does a brilliant job of enveloping you in the base story while also giving you some choices in how some of the tale unfolds. It was like watching an interactive animated film, as I got to partake in actions such as flipping through a scrapbook or throwing a paper ball at someone. It’s not always playful and lighthearted, though, as you make serious decisions that ultimately affect the future.

The narrative is beautifully told through the use of natural dialogue and remarkable voice-acting performances. The lines were delivered with gusto and great enthusiasm. There was no moment of disconnect whatsoever, and I felt fully invested from the game’s onset.

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When it comes to the characters, they are all very well-written. They liven up the atmosphere and bring a lot of spirit with their personality. Whether it be an over-the-top art teacher or a quirky childhood friend, they play their roles well. My favorite is easily the ferryman, as he brings a lot of charisma, humor, and energy despite the grimness of your situation. I knew the characters were great when I found myself either disappointed or pleased with the things they say or do.

The art complements the narrative, and the colors and tones match the atmosphere for each scene. While on the ferry in the afterlife, you have a dark and musky look to the area, reflecting your death. Yet inside the home as a child, you see these warm and bright colors that portray a loving family. The animation, while simple, is very effective. It presents itself as comforting to the eye without needing to go into full details of the shapes and backgrounds.

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Though the art is fantastic, the soundtrack itself wasn’t memorable. It does a decent job in supplementing the mood, but it wasn’t captivating. Some key emotional moments might have hit harder if they had a more touching melody behind them.

Like many story-rich games, Before Your Eyes presents conflicts and twists to the overall plot; luckily, it embeds them seamlessly into the tale, allowing for a complete and thorough story to be told. No stone is left unturned, especially as more gets uncovered about the mystery of your life over time. While the game’s length is about a couple of hours, it did not have a break of monotony whatsoever. For a story to keep someone engaged for its entirety is an impressive feat.

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What works so well for Before Your Eyes is the sheer amount of quality and effort put into its creation. It is a simple narrative that’s completely fleshed out thanks to a great cast of characters, pleasant aesthetics, and innovative gameplay. Though it had a small share of technical issues, the game provides the player with a memorable journey of love, happiness, and mystery.

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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