Sight is something most of us take for granted, blissfully unaware of the consequences of losing such a vital sense. But have you ever stopped to think how the world is perceived through the mind of someone without the ability to see? Young indie upstart Sherida Halatoe is taking this to heart in her debut title Beyond Eyes.
The game is about Rae, a young girl who lost her eyesight during an accident with fireworks early in her life. The tragedy left more than just physical scars, as Rae has since become traumatized by the events, causing her to fear loud noises and public places. She’s become a recluse in her own home, preferring to spend time in the comfort of her special garden where she feels safe. Rae is content with the peace her garden brings her, along with the companionship of a stray cat named Nani. That is until Nani goes missing, forcing Rae to leave the sanctuary of her garden and explore the outside world, using only the sense of touch, sound and smell to navigate her surroundings.
You don’t actively control Rae, but instead lead her through the obscured environment. The player will have to encourage her through the perils of what may lie ahead, and not everything will be to her liking. Becuase Rae has a mind of her own, the player must manage her trust with them. Guiding Rae into dangerous situations will cause her to distrust the player, and less likely to listen to your guidance until you rebuild her trust with you. Likewise, players who have proven to Rae that they are capable of protecting her will be trusted more, and as such Rae will be more willing to comply with their direction. The trust mechanic conveys that sense of vulnerability that you might expect from someone who is afraid, unable to fully protect themselves from their hostile surroundings.
Since Rae cannot see, the world view is nothing more than a white abyss with no sign of any distinguishable features on the horizon. That’s not to say there isn’t a world out there waiting to be explored, and the visual premise behind this concept is something to get excited about. When Rae senses something, a dash of colour highlights it in the world, literally painting a picture of her surroundings as she traverses the landscape. The painted objects are beautifully presented in a rich water colour style, as you might expect considering this is the world as Rae imagines it.
I’m a big fan of games that explore an alternative design, investigating how to convey a story or challenge through something other than pushing A to jump across the gap. The idea that the game’s main protagonist has her own motivations and personality is enough to entice me, and the stunning art style makes the experience all the more worthwhile. Forgive the pun, but Beyond Eyes is one to watch.
Beyond Eyes is currently running an IndieGoGo campaign in a bid to raise 10,000€ to help continue development and launch the game next year. If you want to know more about the developer or the project, you can follow progress over on the official site here.
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