I’m tired of fighting. Whether it be smashing goombas or blowing someone’s head off, almost all of today’s popular games involve violence of some kind, and I’m bored with it. If you’ve been with us for awhile, you probably know that my favorite games are RPGs and MMORPGs, both of which heavily focus on combat and murdering hundreds of beings. But the combat has little to do with why I love them so much. The reason I play these games (particularly MMOs) is because I love exploring. I love traveling a world, meeting new characters, and finding hidden zones (perhaps I’ll take you to a few of my favorites someday!) This is why I play games and these genres in particular. Killing people is always the same, regardless of how you execute it, but a world can and should be unique. That’s why this week’s Indiegogo game is Beyond eyes, a truly beautiful game about a blind girl who uses her remaining senses to visualize the world around her.
In Beyond eyes you play as Rae, a young girl who was blinded as a toddler in a firework accident. She’s been left emotionally scarred from her traumatic experience. Fearing loud sounds, she most often stays at home in her serene garden, where she comes to befriend a stray cat named Nani who visits frequently.
One day, Nani doesn’t show up. Trying to comfort her, Rae’s parents tell her that he probably wasn’t a stray at all and has returned to his family. But after a week, Rae decides to muster up every bit of her bravery to go in search of her beloved friend.
The gameplay is simple. Explore the world using Rae’s senses to map out her environment. With each object you touch, aroma you breathe, or sound you hear, the world becomes fleshed out. But be careful—you’re not a puppeteer for her. Instead, you are something of her helper, guiding her through a sometimes harsh world. If you push her too hard when things get scary, she’ll close down on you, afraid to trust you any further. But if you take care to keep her safe, she’ll learn to trust you when things get hairy.
I adore everything about this game. Visually, it is stunning. The art style is positively beautiful, and I encourage you to watch the trailer on the Indiegogo page to get a better feel for it. I love the idea of starting with a blank map and slowly discovering everything around me. I’m most eager to see how the relationship between the character and player works out. It reminds me a bit of Beloved, where your actions influence how the Voice treats you and your environment.
It’s games like Beyond eyes that give me hope for the industry. If the team of just one woman at Tiger and Squid can make something as magical and progressive as this, I see no reason why big name studios can’t use all of their resources to expand artistically and push the medium. Games don’t have to be about killing aliens, beating up fruit, or murdering wave upon wave of bad guys. Games don’t have to be about the brutality and horror of war. Games can be about beauty, about personal growth, and about forming a unique relationship between character and player.
As an über-geek, I tend to get pretty attached to characters in books, television shows, and movies. I’m the girl who was saddened for days after all the deaths in Harry Potter and spontaneously cried for weeks. I’m the girl who is dreading Christmas because she knows that the Doctor Who Christmas special is going to break her heart. I’m that person. These other mediums have proven that it isn’t impossible to develop very intense feelings for fictional characters. But for the most part, the relationship between player and avatar isn’t really there. I hate to reference Bioshock Infinite yet again, but it was the first game in a long while to make me cry. Previously, only The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword had achieved this for me (and I didn’t even play Skyward Sword—I watched my brother play through most of it, and then watched the ending on YouTube. Even now, just listening to the song is enough to get my eyes a bit teary).
I’m not saying that in order for Beyond eyes to be a success it has to reduce me to a blubbering mess (though that seems to often be my criteria for a good anything). All it has to do is illicit some sort of emotional connection between me and the character. It has to make me feel empathy for her and make me feel like I’m responsible for helping her get through the game. In the end, I want it to fill me with hope, bring me joy, or get the tears going. I don’t care which emotions it brings forth, so long as they are there.
And I have a pretty good feeling they will be.
Definitely check out this game. The creator, Sherida Halatoe, is a quirky, funny, incredibly passionate woman with a truly magnificent idea. If you are able, please consider donating to her project. If you can’t, spread the word! I am so in love with this game, and I cannot wait for the opportunity to one day play it.
Fed up with the same old games being produced year after year, Raeyn decided to explore the world of indie game development. In doing so she discovered that there was a wealth of brilliant ideas seeking crowdsourced funding. At that point, it became her mission to find the less-talked-about gems and bring them to the world’s attention. She also reviews big-name games with a healthy dose of snark, ripping them apart where necessary, and praising them when deserved. You can get more of Raeyn’s writing at her website, Plus 10 to Fire Resist, and follow her on Twitter.