Hands-on with Beyond Eyes

Explore sounds, smells, touch and tastes

A few months ago, our very own Darren Nakamura went hands on with a game called Beyond Eyes, where you play as a young blind girl, exploring the world in the hopes of finding her lost cat. I was lucky enough today to be able to sit down with Team17 at E3 and play a brand new build of the game, which has been going from strength to strength every time I see it.

Beyond Eyes tackles a subject I find equal parts terrifying and fascinating, interacting with the world while blind, in a way that manages to both represent the gameplay to sighted players, but also abstracts your experience of the world in really interesting ways. 

You fill in the world around you by using senses other than sight. Hear a river nearby, you’ll nee a river in the otherwise pure white landscape. Walk into a bench, you’ll see a small object at knee level and discover that it’s a bench through touch. Trying to find a harbour? The smell of fish will probably help lead you there. The world is built of a number of abstracted visual cues that piece the world together in a disjointed, yet beautiful manner.

The new demo for the game I went hands on with was set in a new environment, which took place at a harbour. The level was set during heavy rainfall, which increased my ability to tell what was going on directly around me, but limited my ability to remember what the world was like at a distance. As raindrops landed they would create sounds that distorted other noises in the area. The water would wash away smells and inhibit my ability to tell what was happening through touch. As soon as I walked away, my vision of the world slowly began to fade behind me.

Beyond Eyes is honestly looking better every time I see it at an event. I last played the game back at EGX London in September 2014 where the game was still struggling along with technical bugs and missing features. Finally getting to see a new environment, new stage specific mechanics and a bug free build of the game really reassured me that this game is going to turn out being a strong video game, not just an ambitious concept.

Laura Dale