Blindness is a difficult subject, the very idea of losing one’s vision can be difficult and can desperately affect the ones around them. The thing is when this devastating event happens to someone for any reason those around them also struggle and the simple reason is that they don’t understand, we can feel sorry for those who have succumbed to blindness but these people don’t want us to feel sorry, at the least they want us to be empathetic and this is not easy. It is not always easy to understand something that we are not personally going through but with time we can learn and with ways to push us we can see how the other side lives. Things are better when we can personally understand the plights of these people and as far as I am concerned the game Beyond Eyes has helped me to feel more those who live with this impairment.
They say when one sense goes the rest enhance, in losing your ability to see your hearing and sense of smell compensate for the loss. It comes to be an adjustment but the enhanced abilities of these other senses can keep life to a bearable state but also present a change to how things work. The world is no longer simple to navigate, you cannot see what’s ahead and instead your mind builds a world using your remaining senses to help you continue forward.
This is what Beyond Eyes shows us, in this game we go beyond the world that we can see and instead are forced to embrace our other senses in order to navigate the world and follow the desperate story.
In Beyond Eyes we play as Rae, at the start of this tale she is a happy ordinary girl playing with her friends, but after a freak accident involving fireworks she is left blind. This is bad enough in an adult, but the fact that this is a child just makes things more difficult, Rae grows isolated spending her days in her garden alone until one day she receives a visitor. A cat which she goes on to call Nani becomes here friend and her sole companion helping her to find her way again, but as the year goes on the cats visits become less frequent until the cat stops coming all together. This urges Rae to leave the comfort and safety of her garden and wander into the world to find her friend even with impairment. What follows is a beautiful story of loyalty and dealing with the problems set before our character.
I don’t really consider Beyond Eyes too much of a game, in fact the game offers very little in the actual game department, but this does not actually hurt this particular game. Beyond Eyes is not about gameplay but rather is an experience that pulls you along on the gripping tale, the game simply focuses on you walking through the world but experiencing it in a unique way. Sure I may have controlled my characters movements but in the end I was simply the guide following along on this girl’s story and experiencing her own hardships.
In playing Beyond Eyes you need to accept two things, one is the exceptional slow pace that comes with the careful pacing of Rae, the second is accepting the fact that you can’t see a whole lot. In this game the world comes to life before your eyes (referring to the player), the world is built from Rae’s mind focusing heavily on her remaining senses. As you slowly walk along moving towards a plain white distance you will occasionally see little flickers appear in the world, the noise in the world places what Rae thinks she hears in its place and this can help to navigate the world.
This also leads to some seriously intense moments as Rae comes close to creatures such as dogs and geese, to a blind girl these creatures are even scarier than they would be normally and this will commonly cause Rae to get more nervous as she gets closer. These moments where we have to deal with a scared Rae are few and far between but I like these moments they really add some impact to the experience and show just how the absence of sight can truly affect a person.
Noises become what Rae believes them to be and often change as you urge Rae closer, these of course then make up the world but also often startle her. The mind builds the world and at many moments we can see the true effect it has on her, such as one moment where Rae hears what sounds like a car starting up and this image appears on the screen, but as you push closer the image changes and it is revealed to be a man mowing his lawn. The way this works is interesting even if this often lead me to dead ends which was often frustrating, but this generally shows the power of what the human mind builds with little sound.
For the expanse of the games two hours of game time things never really take any strange turns, you utilize Rae’s memories of Nani and slowly navigate through the world with her sense of touch, smell and hearing. All of these senses develop into the same basic premise of wandering through and seeing a world just build but this never matters, I was honestly happy to tag along on this journey and see how Rae created her world and dealt with her issues to the best of her abilities. As the game progresses you can see what goes through Rae’s mind based on how her expressions change but the way things play out are fascinating and honestly lead up to a tear inducing conclusion.
The nicest thing I can say about Beyond Eyes is that this is a wonderful experience to have, this journey is truly memorable and one that I will not soon forget. While I don’t believe Beyond Eyes presents a perfectly accurate portrayal of how the blind live, I feel like I understand their troubles more, I do feel empathy for their struggles and this is all thanks to this journey through the eyes of Rae. I don’t think the blind have as much brightness in their worlds but Beyond Eyes does show how they learn and adapt and use their other senses to manage.
I don’t care that Beyond Eyes is not really much of a game this story or experience as I prefer to think of it is one that I won’t soon forget. The struggles were real and navigating a world with barely any clue of the path ahead allowed me to immerse myself deeper in this game, I don’t think Beyond Eyes will appeal to everyone but this is one game that has truly shown me something that I think it is important to understand. Beyond Eyes is just wonderful and the adventure I went on, and the story that unfolded will live on in me for a long time to come.