Plenty of games ask you to tweak the brightness or take a moment to scale the resolution to fit your screen before you begin playing. But Before Your Eyes is the only game I’ve played that asks that, before you start, you take a moment to do pretty much the same thing for your eyes. It’s strange, sure, but it helps set the tone for the wonderfully weird and moving adventure that you will help unfold across its impactful 90-minute runtime using nothing but a mouse, your webcam and voluntary and involuntary blinks.
That initial calibration is crucial for gameplay reasons, too. In this first-person narrative game, time moves forward each time your webcam sees you blink, so it’s imperative that the game can accurately detect when you’re actually blinking. To that end, Before Your Eyes presents you with a series of empty circles that fill in white as you blink. If it misses some, you can up the sensitivity and if it records blinks when your eyes are actually open, you can tell it to ease up. Like mouse sensitivity, but your peepers are the mouse.
It’s a memorable introduction to a game, and reminded me of the heady days of Nintendo’s mid-aughts experimentation; a time when you might be asked to blow into a microphone, or twist your Game Boy Advance like a steering wheel, or swing your Wiimote like a golf club. From this distinct starting point, high concept mechanics meet an equally high concept narrative.
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