Beyond Eyes is a short, story driven exploration game featuring a 10-year old blind girl, Rae and her isolated search for a missing cat. The world is a watercolour landscape hidden behind a whitewash and appears in close proximity to Rae. It is a pleasure to play for a while, but the story does not gain any momentum, the character does not develop much depth and the game mechanics become frustrating as they too remain the same throughout.
Rae moves very slowly in a constricted visual field and when the background sound of birds chirping start to feel robotic, I realise that Beyond Eyes, despite its immense promise and personal appeal is not the thought provoking, mesmerizing game it could have easily been.
It valiantly attempts to sketch the world of a blind girl and at times beautifully succeeds, but for the most part it just doesn’t have enough reach and depth to capture its audience. It remains an unrealized idea, a prologue to what could have been, a slow meander until the end credits are rolling.
About tiger & squid and Team17 Digital Ltd.
“Beyond Eyes is being developed by Sherida Halatoe under the name tiger & squid… Her graduation project was an early prototype of Beyond Eyes… After graduating Sherida decided to start her own studio named tiger & squid…In 2014 tiger & squid joined forces with veteran studio Team17 to bring Beyond Eyes to both consoles and home computers in 2015.” Read more on the official developer’s page here.
Team17 is an independent games developer based in Yorkshire, England. Founded in 1990, they are responsible for the Worms series and collaborated with tiger & squid to complete Beyond Eyes. Read more about Team17’s Indie Label and collaborative projects on their official page here.
Steam: £9.99, Xbox One: £9.99
Retailer: Xbox One and Steam (Digital Download)
£10 at launch is a standard price for a new Indie game. Good value for money for games is largely a subjective experience – those who love a game will feel it is a bargain, those who play it for ten minutes then stop will feel ripped off – here at Ergohacks we think it is priced correctly and neither a bargain nor over-priced. It is a well-made Indie title that deserves its fair market price.
As far as we know, no environmental principles were employed during the creation and distribution process by anyone involved in the project.
Players: Single Player
Full controller support
Language: English (interface and subtitles), as well as French, German, Spanish, Polish and Russian.
PEGI /ESRB rating
Platform: PC (Windows/Steam), Xbox One
Beyond Eyes is an unusual game with a definitive target audience. It doesn’t have a great story, it doesn’t have mesmerizing game mechanics, but it does have one majestic selling point – it succeeds at being something beautifully different. I think it is a game made for someone looking for a different point of view and happy to overlook its slow pace and superficial plot. It is a beautiful setting with many small pleasures for those who enjoy little details, but the fine focus may not be enough for anyone looking for something more meaningful.
Ease of use
It is easy to install and play.
An Xbox One console or computer with Steam. An internet connection for downloading the game.
Minimum system requirements for Windows
OS: Windows 7
Processor: Intel Core i5-3570K @ 3.4 GHz or AMD FX-6350
Memory: 4 GB RAM
Graphics: GeForce GTS 450 / Radeon HD 6770
DirectX: Version 11
Hard Drive: 1 GB available space
Sound Card: Windows Compatible Card
Compatible controllers for Windows: Xbox 360 and Xbox One controllers
It is accessible to anyone with a mild-moderate visual impairment, including those who experience visual symptoms, like photophobia (light sensitivity), eye strain or colour blindness. The watercolour graphics and whitewash can make it difficult to distinguish details and Rae’s white dress often matches the background, but her dark hair is a helpful feature, providing a higher contrast against the often lighter shades of the background.
There is no voice over for the narration or menu, it is text only. Interactive elements are not highlighted, but that is part of the game’s mechanics and these are not required for progress in the game. Colour alone is used as an indicator – different streaks of colour indicate different senses – smells are yellow for example. Audio cues enhance game play. The font is cursive and standard size, not particularly easy to read with a visual impairment, but it is black text against a white background which helps.
It is accessible to anyone with a hearing impairment, including the deaf and those who experience auditory symptoms, like tinnitus or hyperacusis (sound sensitivity). Audio cues are used to enhance game play – sometimes there is a visual counterpart, but even when there isn’t, I didn’t have any trouble understanding the context without access to the audio.
It is accessible to anyone with moderate – severe dexterity issues and those who experience symptoms that affect their hands, wrists and shoulders, like a tremor, fatigue or muscle weakness that reduced reaction speeds or precision.
The controls are simple – on a controller the analog sticks control movement and point-of-view and A is used to interact with the environment. It might be difficult to play with one hand using a controller because both analog sticks are required, however as there is no quick movement or combat, I don’t think it is an obstacle because it is possible to stand still, switch to the right analog to adjust the view point then go back to the left for movement.
Movement and mobility
There is no mobility requirement to play.
Motion sickness and balance disorders
It is accessible to anyone who experiences motion sickness or dizzy spells. It is a walking simulation, but the pace is slow, the viewpoint is player controller and it uses a third person perspective.
It is accessible to anyone with a cognitive impairment, including those with a learning disability like dyslexia and those who experience cognitive symptoms, like problems with memory, concentration, planning and organization.
There is some reading required, particularly in the prologue and sporadically throughout the game and text is on a timer, which could make it difficult to read for slow readers or those with a learning disability, however the story is simple enough that the visual representation carries the gist of it well enough that I think it can be played without reading any of the text.
There is an imaginative mix of metaphor and the literal. Sounds are visually represented as what Rae think they might be – a cat scratching against a tree – but once she moves closer she realises it is a woodpecker and the image on the screen morphs from a cat to a bird. It is a wonderful visual illustration of how someone without sight may narrow down and differentiate sound within certain contexts, but it could be confusing for anyone who struggles to differentiate metaphor and reality, like some people with autism.
None. It is a single player game.
Trigger warnings and age ratings
This product has a pending rating of PEGI 7+ (contains some possibly frightening scenes or sounds ) and ESRB E (everyone).
In the prologue, Rae is in an accident and on waking up in the hospital, discovers that she is blind. This may be a trigger for some.
Beyond Eyes is an admirable game doing its best to show sighted people what it might be like to live as a person with a severe visual impairment. It is an idealistic project, but it just isn’t up to the task it sets out to accomplish.
Rae is easy to like, easy to empathize with, but a simple story and lack of any meaningful character development combined with simplistic game mechanics – players can only walk around very slowly and occasionally press A to interact with an object – makes it less than it could be. A game can be story driven or mechanic driven or both, but it cannot get away with having not much of either.
I felt as if I had been charmed into an adventure, but then got stuck in a traffic jam thirty minutes after setting out. It idles along inch by inch, stopping and starting, moving and stopping until, finally, it is the end and how disappointing the end turns out to be.
I wanted to love Beyond Eyes, I wanted it to be memorable and most of all, I wanted it to be an evocative experience that captures if not in practically, but in spirit, what it is like to live as someone who is blind. It almost succeeds, if only it had a little more to offer.
It is a beautifully made world, there are some magnificent moments and the attention to detail is delightful, but only recommended to anyone who will be satisfied with a simple story, simplistic mechanics – happy to just wander slowly through an artistic, but superficial world, to see its unutilized potential.
Product: Beyond Eyes | Developer: tiger & squid, Team17 Digital Ltd | Publisher: Team17 Digital Ltd | Platform: PC (Windows, Mac, Linux/SteamPlay), Xbox One| Genre: Adventure, Narrative | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | Release Date: 11 August 2015 |Content Rating: PEGI 7+, ESRB (E) is pending
The game review is based on the Xbox One (digital download) version of the game. First published on 19 August 2015.