I’ve been looking for some more original ideas to play on PS VR2. Shooters and puzzle games are all well and good – I could play Pistol Whip and Tetris Effect forever – but the library doesn’t feature a whole lot else. Before Your Eyes is just the breath of fresh air I was looking for.
It’s an incredibly simple game. It tells the story of a blossoming family, with a talented young son who’s trying to figure out his early years, young love, and the path his life is going to take.
For the most part, you simply watch their lives play out. Everyday life things like learning an instrument, playing video games with a new friend, or taking trips in the car. You’re just there to take it all in, with one exception.
Whenever an eye or metronome icon appears on-screen, a blink moves time forward, making full use of PS VR2’s eye-tracking technology.
Sometimes it’ll expand the scene a little and others it’ll skip days, months, or years into the future. It’s always in smart ways too. As scenes change, your focus is usually intentionally drawn to something in particular. As you blink and the world expands a little, your attention is moved, revealing new changes to the family’s life.
There’s little else to it. You can put the Sense controllers down and just take in the story. That might not be enough input for some VR fans, but the wonderful story and eye-tracking make Before Your Eyes one of the most immersive games on PS VR2.
What at first seems like a cute story of a growing family quickly turns into an emotional and often heartbreaking story about family and learning to appreciate your life for what it is, rather than what you or others thought it could be.
The music, voice acting, and writing are all excellent too, creating a story that’s best played in one sitting (it’s only 90 minutes long). You’re best limiting your knowledge of the story as much as possible, but the ingenious decision to tie the progression of time to your own blinks is what makes Before Your Eyes special.
I don’t normally think about when I’m blinking, it’s automatic. In Before Your Eyes though, weight is added every single time you close your eyes. Sometimes whether you want it to or not, a blink can skip most of a scene, taking a key moment away from you before it’s even really begun.
That’s annoying, but not in the sense that it’s a flaw. It’s quite clearly intentional. Blink and you’ll miss it, savour the small moments of life, it’s part of Before Your Eyes’ message.
However, in a few moments that felt particularly key to the story, I found myself reaching under the front of the headset to physically hold my eyes open if I couldn’t keep them open otherwise.
You want to be in the moment and play through naturally, but some moments were touching to the point that I didn’t want to miss a second of it.
The visuals are equally simple and effective. Presented like a kid’s painting with crude triangle noses on the characters and pastel colours, it’s actually gorgeous.
As the scene expands with each blink, the edges of what you see ripple, as only small parts of sometimes vague memories are remembered. Just like the blinking mechanic itself, the art style fits perfectly with the themes of the story.
My only gripe is, since the blink mechanic is so central to the emotion of the story and the flow of the gameplay, it’s really frustrating when it doesn’t work as intended.
Towards the end of the game, I had multiple instances where the game simply wouldn’t recognise my blinks to skip forward. I’d have to blink rapidly or accentuate a blink to make it work.
After it worked perfectly for the first two-thirds, it suddenly became frustratingly inconsistent. There’s a chance it’s something to do with my set-up or my tired eyes after a long day at work, but the fact it happened out of nowhere suggests it’s the game.
Even with those inconsistent issues, Before Your Eyes still tells an emotional and relatable story in a simple yet really engaging way. It’s proof that games don’t need to lean on gimmicks to take advantage of the strengths of PS VR2.
Before Your Eyes Pricing & Availability
Before Your Eyes is available for PS VR2 for €14.99 on the PlayStation Store.
REVIEW: Before Your Eyes (PS VR2)
Before Your Eyes tells an emotional and relatable story in a simple yet really engaging way. It’s proof that games don’t need to lean on gimmicks to take advantage of the strengths of PS VR2.