GAME REVIEW | A Worthy Life Flashes "Before Your Eyes"
How does one weigh the value of a soul? Is it by the amount that a person is able to accomplish, or can a soul cost plenty just by having a good, quiet life? GoodbyeWorld Games brings judgement to one unique person in their debut title Before Your Eyes, as one’s life flashes as quickly as one can blink.
Before Your Eyes starts right at the death of Benjamin, who is whisked away by a wolfy ferryman. He tells him that he seemed worth saving, and wants to hear his story. From there, Benjamin tells his entire life’s story, from his infancy to his rise, fall, and rise again in a creative arts career. However, soon after Benjamin tells his tale, the ferryman fears that something is amiss.
The game is controlled by your eyes, as the story jumps forward each time you blink. At first, that aspect may seem difficult, as we tend to blink naturally when we least expect it. Fortunately, the blinking mechanic only occurs when a metronome appears on the bottom of your screen. With that being said, trying not to blink to see what happens in a specific moment of Benjamin’s life can be tricky. Many times I cursed myself after I accidentally let myself blink during what could’ve been a pivotal moment in this kid’s life.
How Before Your Eyes manages to measure your blinks is actually kind of amazing, as it had no problem figuring out when I did it. Even when I tried to cheat and blink one eye, it still skipped over to the next point in Benjamin’s life. There are even moments when you’ll need to keep your eyes shut, so as to hear your parents speak about things that...well, I really don’t want to spoil the story this game has to offer.
What I can tell you about its narrative is that it’ll take your breath away faster than a Palme D’or-winning indie drama. You get a real Boyhood-like vibe as you witness Benjamin growing up, learning how to play piano, experiencing his first love, and becoming a successful artist. However, it’s the final act of Before Your Eyes that transforms a tale of rags-to-riches into a story of heartache and tragedy. And when that shoe drops, you best prepare to feel a sort of pain many other games tend to avoid conveying.
Visually, there’s a childish look to the living world and the realm of the afterlife. It brims with personality, giving way to expressive characters and a unique world that even looks beautiful during the game’s most harrowing moments. It is the sort of warmth that many lighthearted games have been able to showcase with glee, only it’s able to convey the sadder moments with the right amount of brightness mixed in with the darkness.
The only downside to Before Your Eyes is that it’s a very short game. Clocking in at just over 90 minutes, the experience can feel like you’re experiencing an interactive film rather than a run-of-the-mill video game. With that being said, there is some replay value with this title, as you can attempt to do different actions and see if your path can change in any way.
- Beautiful narrative
- Unique gameplay mechanics
- Lovely visuals
- Very short game
- Can sometimes be hard not to blink
Before Your Eyes is a short experience, but its narrative will stay with you for a very long time. The imaginative way of playing and the overall tone of its story will leave you speechless, as it demonstrates a beauty we don’t see often in this medium. GoodbyeWorld Games’ debut is spellbinding, as true digital magic will unfold, well, before your eyes.
Promotional consideration provided by Zac Gunnell. Available on April 8th.