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Before Your Eyes review: A truly beautiful gaming experience

Before Your Eyes is an innovative tale of 'blink and you'll miss it'. Literally.

Before Your Eyes is our Game of the Week.
5.0 out of 5 star rating

Before Your Eyes is a video game that you control by blinking, and it’s so good that we’ve selected it as this week’s RadioTimes.com Game of the Week.

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Developed by GoodbyeWorld Games and published by Skybound Games (the company owned by Robert Kirkman of The Walking Dead and Invincible fame), it’s an innovative experience which blends technology and story in a truly unique way.

Using the webcam on your laptop or PC, the game tracks your eye movements and uses that data to tailor your experience. It’s a technical achievement, for sure, but the game also has powerful emotional moments that will stick with you long after the credits have rolled.

The narrative of Before Your Eyes takes place in an afterlife of sorts, with the player put in the shoes of a recently deceased character who is looking back on their life. But in this heartstring-tugging recap of your character’s story, it’s literally a case of ‘blink and you’ll miss it’.

That’s because a lot of moments in the game have a feature where, if you blink, the story will jump forward. It’s probably the closest that any game has come to creating that sense of life truly flashing before your eyes. And it’s done in a beautiful way.

It’s particularly impressive that Before Your Eyes manages to tell a story – one that makes sense all the way through, and also packs in humour and an emotional wallop – despite the fact that you could actually miss quite a lot of content if you blink a lot.

You can actually turn off the blinking mechanic and use the spacebar to manually control your scene transitions instead, but that does defeat the point somewhat. We’d recommend playing with a webcam and with the blinking controls turned on, if you can.

As you progress through the story, you’ll piece together fragments of a life and start to build an understanding of who this character is and what happened to them. You may also find yourself bonding with the other characters in the story, or at least growing fond of them.

The graphics are fairly simple, but the storytelling is masterful, and that feeling like life is slipping through your fingers is something that makes this experience hugely memorable. There’s also a lovely musical score, with lots of piano, which really adds to the experience.

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To say much more about the story would probably spoil the experience, but we do feel safe in saying that your character’s familial relationships play a central role in how the story unfolds, as do some of the decisions that you’ll get to make along the way.

Given that there’s no controller or keyboard commands to speak of, there’s also an impressive amount of ways in which you interact with the game. As well as the scenes where blinking means that time flies forwards, there are also moments where you use your eye movements and blinks to make your character pick objects up, draw pictures and interact with the world in other ways.

It’s also worth mentioning that the game is refreshingly short, with our first playthrough clocking in at 96 minutes. In an age when video games can become 100-hour epics, there’s something to be said for shorter games that deliver emotions and entertainment without outstaying their welcome.

Before Your Eyes achieves so much in its short playtime. If you do give this indie game a chance, you’ll definitely be rewarded. You’ll rethink the way that games are played on a technical level, and you’ll go on an emotional journey that looks at life in a really eye-opening way.

Before Your Eyes is out now on PC via Steam and the Epic Games Store. You can get 12% off the price with a deal at Green Man Gaming.

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