Before Your Eyes Review (PSVR2) – Part of the early library of PlayStation VR2 titles is Before Your Eyes. A first-person walking simulator that doesn’t even make you walk, more of a blinking simulator.
Jokes aside, I thought I knew what to expect when I saw the trailers for Before Your Eyes. I wasn’t ready for the journey the game took me on, and I will not forget it anytime soon.
Before Your Eyes Review (PSVR2) – The PSVR2’s Tear-jerker That Beautifully Maximizes Eye Tracking
In The Blink Of An Eye
You awaken on a ship adrift at sea, with a bipedal wolf sitting in front of you. Calling himself the Ferryman, he offers you the chance to escape from this ocean. The only catch is that the Gatekeeper must approve of you.
To gain her approval, the Ferryman must tell her your story. You tell of your life, the life of young Benjamin Brynn, growing from his earliest memories forward, living in a small coastal town.
Your mother sees talent in you and pushes you into it. She wants what’s best for you and your future, but you decide how to progress your story. You can either follow along or follow your heart.
With this game, all you do is aim your eyes and blink to progress the story. On-screen prompts guide you along the way, keeping your progress moving. When a scene is finished, a metronome pops up, the PSVR2 uses eye tracking to detect when you next blink. After you do, the scene changes to the next chunk of the story.
The effect of this is both intentional and effective. These chunks of memories often linger long after the metronome appears, and you can blink past parts of the memories. Even when purposefully keeping my eyes open, I still blink, which makes these memories feel fleeting without saying so.
I feel genuine loss in this. I went back to see it all again when I finished the game. I needed to know what I missed my first time through. Even after my replay, that feeling of lost memories stayed with me, with each missed chunk of memory compounding into the next one you lose.
Seeing Is Believing
This experience lasts only a few hours, but the headset accentuates the immersion by keeping your senses completely dedicated to what you see and hear. This is what makes this special concept even more potent.
This game could easily function without VR. In fact, I hope it does at some point so that more people can play it. Nonetheless, this methodology of storytelling lends the device to its story and vice versa, where the creators maximize the potential of their story by wonderfully utilizing what makes the hardware unique.
The art direction is simple, almost basic, with everything looking interpreted through a simplistic viewpoint: that of a child. I can no longer say if that is accurate or not – I have aged too far away from my own younger memories to feel them like I did – but the approach the game uses creates a carefree, youthful sensation.
These visuals are not stellar, but they contribute beautifully to something entirely phenomenal.
It genuinely hurts my heart to state the following things because this game charmed me and even reminded me of my dampened passionate humanity. These things are also mostly minor.
Along the way, especially when I played longer than an hour, the game didn’t recognize each of my blinks. At times, this feels by design. I grew deeply emotional in several sections of the game, and I blinked far more than normal due to tears. I think some of these scenes intentionally forgive a blink or two.
Equally so, half of the time I blinked to purposefully move the story forward, the game didn’t register my blinks. These didn’t break immersion, but they made me think about the fact that I was trying to progress a game forward instead of experiencing an event.
Please Remain Standing
The first time I played the game, I stood the entire time. My feet started to hurt because I just stood in one spot, but I stopped caring about the discomfort after a while. Like I said, I love this game, so I endured. While standing, the entire experience is stellar and performs perfectly.
When I went through it again while sitting, my experience was more cumbersome. Sometimes, the angle of my target was straight down, particularly when you play the piano. You really feel it in your neck.
Even worse still, the game world sometimes jumps around, trying to adjust itself to your position instead of letting you just interact in your play area. I grew somewhat uneasy, though not quite to the level of vertigo.
Knowing what I know, I cherish the fact that I played the entire game standing up. Had I not, the dear memories I now have of this game would not be the same. Please, when you get this game, play it on your feet.
Before Your Eyes Shows The Potential Of The PSVR2 Hardware
Narratively, Before Your Eyes does practically everything right, and it strengthens that story through the PSVR2 hardware. The vast majority of the game’s problems occur with you playing while sitting. That fact also contributes to the alternative, which makes you stand for a couple hours to finish the game.
Still, the game takes you on a fantastic trip that both breaks your heart and warms your soul. It may not sell PSVR2 units on its own, but owners absolutely need Before Your Eyes in their library.
Before Your Eyes is now available on PS5 and PSVR2.
Review code kindly provided by publisher.