Blinking for the first time in Before Your Eyes is a truly magical moment. I don’t mean pressing the button to close your virtual eyes. Through the power of a webcam, Before Your Eyes tracks when you blink which allows you to progress through an amazing action adventure title from Goodbyeworld Games. It may seem like a novel gimmick on the surface, but the mechanic is used so inventively that it meaningfully elevates the already powerful storytelling that fans of narrative adventure titles may dismiss it as a shallow ploy. To write in would be considered wrong.
Players take on the role of Benjamin Bryan, a lost soul who has already passed away. At the start of the game, you encounter a canine hawker who forces you to retrace the events of Ben’s life starting from birth. It’s all to impress the person called the Gatekeeper, who wants an honest assessment of who Ben was as a person.
In the blink of an eye when prompted, you’ll jump ahead through days, weeks, and sometimes years in Ben’s life. I’m impressed with how accurately the game recognizes eye-tracking. I’ve never had a problem where blinking didn’t register or my camera needed re-calibration. I never felt disoriented or uncomfortable playing using eye tracking, but those factors will vary from person to person. On that note, it’s nice that there’s an option to play the entire game using traditional mouse clicks, but I think you’d be doing yourself a huge disservice in doing so.
After playing through it twice in front of your eyes, once blinking and the other using the mouse, I feel the story loses its magic when played with purely traditional control inputs. Closing your eyes, then opening them to a new view creates the wonderful sensation that you’re living life through an old school View-Master toy. Ben’s memories are fleeting, and The Mechanic sells that point perfectly. Yes, I was frustrated at times when I blinked involuntarily and the story progressed sooner than I wanted to. However, I didn’t mind it for long as I found that doing so gave the game a dream-like quality and the feeling that even cherished memories eventually fade – when we hope they won’t.
Some of my favorite moments involve closing my eyes to better eavesdrop on a quiet conversation or so my childhood bestie can leave a heartfelt note free of embarrassment. It’s also more fun to “look and blink” than to point and click on objects. Even when playing with your eyes, you still use a mouse for other tasks such as adding stars in the night sky to compose cosmic messages or keeping in rhythm with piano tempos. These interactions are fairly basic but enjoyable nonetheless.
No matter how you play, Before Your Eyes’ story is a heartwarming tale that brought me close to tears on more than one occasion. Despite its pleasantly whimsical vibe, the narrative’s themes of depression and existentialism hit hard, as does understanding the meaning of life from the perspective of a man who, despite having a great family and being born with prodigious gifts, is unable to find personal fulfillment. struggles to get by. The writing is honest and thoughtful, and the story takes a few unexpected turns, culminating in a bittersweet final message that’s harder than I prepared (in a good way).
A good story needs good characters, and you have all that before your eyes. Ben’s parents, a caring but demanding mother and a lovable goofy father, are sweethearts. The same happens with your mischievous neighbor Chloe, who actually turns out to be a cute kid who you can’t help but be impressed and hang out with. I was surprised at how much I connected with the cast in such a short span of time, but the brilliant performances and well-written dialogues do their job and keep me hooked to the characters.
You’ll make a few choices throughout the story, but I was disappointed by how little they affect the overall narrative. Don’t stress too much over whether to sneak out with your friend or get much-needed sleep for your big piano recital; This is one of those games where you just choose what color to paint the road instead of making whole new paths. Since the game takes about an hour to complete, it’s worth replaying just to see some of those scenes, but I wish my decisions had more weight given the sheer number of options presented. looking at.
Before Your Eyes’ story kept me hooked by the end, and it’s a memorable journey worth going out of your way to play. You rarely get a first-of-its-kind experience in games anymore, and Before Your Eyes largely nails the execution of its primary hook. It’s a concept I’d love to see further in a follow-up, and I couldn’t be happier that something like it exists.