Beyond Eyes was one of the most unique games demoed at the Xbox Press Conference, which you may remember as the charming trailer which followed a little girl who has recently become blind. At Team 17’s booth on the floor, I had the opportunity to check out a little more of the game, as the girl set out on a journey outside her house to find her runaway cat.
The inventive way the girl’s disability is conveyed to the player is with the brilliant watercolour art style. You walk through a featureless white void, but anything which would be available to the girl’s immediate senses is filled in with a painterly effect. In practice, a small circumference around the girl is usually available, revealing the ground or a path. Any bushes or fences she brushes past may appear, along with anything that may make noise, like a running stream or a bird in the distance. In addition, the path behind the girl remains visible as she remembers it, allowing you to slowly uncover the map through exploration.
However, some conflict does come into the proceedings as the developers play around with your hindered vision. The girl’s senses can deceive, as the sound of trickling water may seem to be a fountain, but on closer inspection becomes a storm drain pipe. A barking dog that may sound terrifying from a distance and would appear to the player as a large angry bulldog, may become a puppy with a loud voice upon getting closer. The theme of the game definitely seems to be centred around looking at the world from a different perspective, and learning to analyse and adjust depending on available information.
Ultimately, the main thrust of the gameplay is navigating beautiful watercolour environments with a unique presentation, which more or less means it’s a game of figuring out where you have to go. If I had to categorise it, I would say it’s more of an experience like Dear Esther than a puzzle game, but its strength lies in its presentation and unique nature. Look forward to its full release on Xbox One, PC, Mac and Linux later this year.