Having dry eyes is apparently overrated in the afterlife. Get out your eyedrops, pull the tape off your webcam, and prepare for the world’s most emotional staring contest. Developed by GoodbyeWorld Games, Before Your Eyes takes you on a first-person narrative of the past controlled by your real-life blinks. Be careful not to blink twice as minutes, days, months, and even years of your life will flash before your very eyes. Relive the obsessive behavior of your tiger mom, evoke the memories of your quirky childhood crush, and discover that the ferryman of the afterlife is a verbose howling wolfcat. Before Your Eyes is an immersive and unforgettable adventure available on Steam and the Epic Games Store.
An Ordinary Life with a Dark Secret
Freshly fished out of the river of Styx, your story begins after your life ends, on the ferrymaster’s boat to the great beyond. The rather eccentric shipmaster says he has a “premonition” that out of all the souls lost at sea, you had a story worth telling. However, the underworld didn’t provide you with a body to explore your past, save your eyes. Before Your Eyes sends you back in time to relive your memories, one blink at a time.
You play as one Benjamin Brynn, an ordinary child born into an average home by the seaside. Your father is a laid-back professor, and your mother is an aspiring pianist, diligently trying to get her musical pieces publicized to the world. As any typical mother would in her position, Ben’s mom pushes him to mirror her artistic steps in playing the piano. Time waits for no one — your life quickly sailing by blink after blink. Before Your Eyes does a superb job in showing the subtle changes in Ben’s age. Your iconic red Little Tikes car changes to a bicycle. The toys and decorations in your room go from building blocks and dinosaurs to superhero action figures and TV monitors.
Time passes, and you get to relive the memories you shared with your next-door neighbor and best friend, Chloe. However, not everything in life is hunky-dory. As you get older, your mom becomes more insistent that you practice the piano to reach the career heights she never could. Ben’s life showcases the archetypal experiences of typical parental conflicts, boyhood struggles, and childhood challenges. But as ordinary as the slices of Ben’s life seems, you soon come to realize that there is more than meets the blinking eye with his past. The ferryman knows this and won’t rest until you show him everything he needs to see. Coming to grips with your most repressed memories, you will uncover the ultimate heartbreaking truth about Ben’s life.
Memory Sync Through Blink
As mentioned beforehand, the main selling point and innovation of Before Your Eyes is being able to use your real-life blinks as the gameplay’s controller. Keep in mind, the game is best played with a webcam, as the game needs to recognize every time you blink. It doesn’t track your eye movements per se but rather your eyelids’ opening and closing motion. You will be using your mouse to look around what’s on screen. A ticking metronome will appear to inform you that the next time you close your eyes, time will progress. This makes for some frantic eye-itching moments where you’re desperately fighting between remoisturizing your eyeballs or unintentionally skipping a vivid memory. Although sometimes irritating, this concept accurately follows with the narrative’s idea of “Don’t blink or you’ll miss it,” mirroring how real life can fly past within the blink of an eye. Luckily, the metronome icon usually only appears after the most critical moments of a scene have passed.
Before Your Eyes also features several moments in its narrative where you’ll make choices that will affect particular outcomes within the story. However, be aware that Before Your Eyes is a linear story-driven game. I went through two playthroughs of the game to see if my decisions would have any different impact, and the answer is no. While the consequence of one action may slightly change the dialogue or even a scene, the entire story from start to finish doesn’t feature multiple paths or endings. This is, of course, not a problem unless you’re expecting this sort of thing in the game. Before Your Eyes is notably short in its length, with the average playtime being around two hours total. The quality of the deep and immersive story, however, far outweighs the quantity of gameplay.
Ambiance and Visuals of Reliving the Past
Graphically, Before Your Eyes game ran smoothly without any framerate dips or drops throughout the entire experience. The visuals’ calming colors and soft edges masterfully produce a cartoonish feel that is aesthetically mild enough to evoke warmhearted moods and sad emotional moments. Not to mention, it’s easy on the eyes as you often are compelled not to blink for certain periods of time. Animations are smooth and crisp, with the game’s motion capture adding a layer of realism to the fantasy world. Only the characters and environment connected with each memory are directly visible on-screen. Similar to real life, people tend to forget irrelevant details and only recall the most important moments.
The musical score perfectly frames each scene from playful and sweet to ominous and gloomy. It further punctuates the sentiment of time passing with its subtle mix of “reverse-style” low-fi melodies. The soundtrack unquestionably carries the mood, especially during the more emotional moments. As for the audio, there were a few moments where voices or ambient sounds suddenly cut off, or sometimes the quality of the recordings sounded inconsistent. It didn’t affect my enjoyment of the game, but it was noticeable.
An area where Before Your Eyes shines arguably the most is the performance of the voice actors and actresses. They did an unbelievable job, nailing the funny or sincere tones and emotions for every scene. What often made Before Your Eyes‘s story often feel so immersive, heartfelt, and genuine was the talented dialogue coupled with the magnificent narrative.
Conclusion: The Final Reveal Hits Right in the Feels
“The only way to fight against time is to create a work of genius that will live on after you’re gone.”
– Elle Brynn
Before Your Eyes is a “short and sweet” masterpiece. It cleverly innovates gameplay to tell a profound and emotional story, told through the eyes of young Benjamin Brynn. Its finale left me deeply moved. The entire adventure was, without a doubt, an “eye-opening” experience. It will bring tears to your eyes and not just from the dry eye discomfort. The only downside to playing Before Your Eyes is that you’ll never be able to play it again for the first time. I wish I could “blink” two hours back before my playthrough so that I could experience it all again.
Have you purchased Before Your Eyes game? Let us know in the comments below!