Also On: PS4, PC
As art, Beyond Eyes is extraordinarily laudable: it wants to help players understand what it’s like to be blind. If the purpose of art is to help you understand different perspectives, it’s neat to see a game embrace a point of view that’s not very well-served in most media, video games or otherwise.
Not only that, it conveys that perspective via a story that’s sure to tug at your heartstrings. You play Beyond Eyes as Rae, a young girl who’s lost her sight, but who nonetheless wants to find out what happened to a cat that kept her company as she recovered from the accident that caused her impairment. If you’re looking for an emotional hook, it doesn’t get much stronger than “blind girl searches for her lost kitty.”
Unfortunately, no matter how much emotional heft Beyond Eyes carries, it’s impossible to get around the fact it’s boring. Just excruciatingly dull from start to finish. You know how some games are derisively called “walking simulators”? Playing Beyond Eyes, I suddenly understood exactly how and why people might use that as an insult. You don’t really do anything here except for walk. This is a game where major obstacles include “barking dog” and “pressing the crosswalk button” and “path leading to nowhere”. I hate to make light of those things, because I have no doubt that visually impaired people — and especially visually impaired children — have to learn to deal with them on a daily basis…but seriously, it’s not exactly the sort of thing that translates well to a game.
One of the greater ironies of Beyond Eyes is that, for a game that’s about not being able to see anything, it looks really nice. As the world fades in and out of Rae’s understanding, it’s like you’re watching a watercolor painting flashing in and out of existence before your eyes.
But no amount of nice visuals can make up for gameplay that puts you to sleep. And no matter how engaging Beyond Eyes tries to be in its story, I have no doubt that the vast majority of people playing it will find that the interminable stretches between its muted plot beats probably won’t be enough to keep you awake. If you’re anything like me, you’ll feel a little rotten for hating on it, but dull is dull — and Beyond Eyes is nothing if not very, very dull indeed.