Before Your Eyes was one of the more surprising games of 2021 and not just a cheap gimmick. Interacting with a story solely through blinking was incredibly novel, and GoodbyeWorld Games used that input method to its advantage to intimately tell a heartwarming (and heartbreaking) tale. And while it was inventive, the PlayStation VR2 port of the game is the best way to play it, as it more aptly realizes the mechanic it was built upon.
This is partially because capturing blinks in the other versions of the game wasn’t always consistent despite GoodbyeWorld’s best efforts. Both the PC and mobile versions require decent lighting, and that’s a compromise that’s not always possible. The sun sets. Rooms aren’t always lit well. External cameras aren’t magical pieces of tech that can always interpret the right input or even catch them and that caveat meant that Before Your Eyes could only be fully enjoyed in specific scenarios. It was possible to sidestep these issues by playing without a camera plugged in, but that’s just not what the game deserves.
Having the camera built into the PS VR2 headset means there’s a much lower chance of technical tomfoolery; it’s always going to be in the same position with more or less the same lighting. And this change is important because it more cleanly lets the unique blinking mechanic take center stage. It works almost flawlessly inside virtual reality and was seemingly made for this medium. However, it is a bit strange (and a small missed opportunity) that it doesn’t take full advantage of the eye-tracking capabilities of the headset, so even though it tracks blinks, users still have to point the reticle using their head.
The immersive qualities of VR also assist the way Before Your Eyes conveys its narrative since it is all about seeing the world through Benjamin’s eyes. Going through his life and being able to look around more seamlessly puts the player into his shoes and given how much the story is all about his perspective, that shift is yet another way this port proves that the game was designed for virtual reality.
Not everything is always rendered around the player, though, as only the important bits materialize in an otherwise black void, which means looking around isn’t always fruitful. However, that limitation is not a distraction, but something that forces players to focus on what matters. It also makes sense since players are just reliving these memories as ethereal snapshots of the past.
That incredible concept is still at the beating heart of Before Your Eyes. The natural performances are strong enough to make up for the crude character models and the metaphor of having blinks jump through time is a remarkably clever way to infuse a unique gameplay mechanic and storytelling. It all comes together beautifully and results in an emotionally rich tale that doesn’t overstay its welcome. However, these aspects were always fantastic and demonstrate that the game doesn’t need VR to be great; it only gets better with VR. It can occasionally be glitchy, as sometimes it’ll reset progress, soft lock, or fail to pop a trophy, but these are ultimately unimportant inconveniences that come with playing through one of gaming’s most uniquely told stories in the medium it was best suited for.
Disclosure: The publisher provided a PlayStation 5 copy for our Before Your Eyes feature. Played on version 1.001.000.
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