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The Genuinely Moving Before Your Eyes Finds its Home On PSVR2

Before Your Eyes takes advantage of the PSVR2 headset to provide a beautiful and unique narrative experience.



Before Your Eyes PSVR2 Virtual Reality

Before Your Eyes PSVR2 Review

Developer: GoodbyeWorld Games + RYOT | Publisher: Skybound Games
Genre: Narrative Adventure, Virtual Reality
Platforms: PlayStation VR2, Steam |  Reviewed on: PlayStation VR2

Virtual reality can feel like powerful technology in search of meaningful experiences. Not that there is anything wrong with creating an immersive world with fantastic fidelity; virtual reality hardware is at the point where people can enjoy incredibly realistic simulations. But the tech can do so much more. Before Your Eyes, a BAFTA award-winning narrative from GoodbyeWorld Games, is an incredible example of a video game that marries innovative mechanics with beautiful storytelling. It is focused and thought-provoking. And though the game is available on Steam, the way Before Your Eyes has been rebuilt for PSVR2 transforms the experience into a must-play virtual reality showcase.

Before Your Eyes PSVR2 Virtual Reality
Image: Skybound Games

Thoughtfully Considered

Before discussing the content of Before Your Eyes, it is important to consider its form.

Even before it was reimagined for the PSVR2, Before Your Eyes featured an imaginative control scheme. On Steam, players control the action with not only a mouse and keyboard, but by blinking their eyes (provided their computer has a camera). At certain points in the action, blinking propels the story forward, anywhere from moments to years.

With the PSVR2 headset, Before Your Eyes is fully engaging. The headset not only tracks the movement of the player’s head, it can easily track blinks as well. This game is presented in the first-person, but it doesn’t ask the player to get up and move around, negating most if not all motion sickness potential. The art direction, rather than chasing full-on realism, is simple and evocative, with character models feeling like they stepped out of a Dreamcast and into the player’s field of view.

Analog sticks and buttons are not required outside of selecting “New Game” or tinkering with the settings; on the PSVR2, players progress by controlling where they look and when they blink. It sounds confusing, but this is the definitive way to play this one-of-a-kind game. The player embodies the protagonist, making the material that much more affecting.

Before Your Eyes PSVR2 Virtual Reality
Image: Skybound Games

Think back.

What is your earliest memory? Maybe its an image: a mobile floating above a crib, the pattern of wallpaper in a childhood bedroom. Perhaps its a soundscape, a lullaby sang by your mother or the soothing voice of your father. It could be an object, a toy, or a placemat.

How does that make you feel?

In Before Your Eyes, players wake up on a boat in the middle of nowhere as a grizzled beast-person explains that your life is over. He’s fished your soul from the sea and is bringing you the gatekeeper of the afterlife. If he can tell the story of your time on earth and the gatekeeper is sufficiently impressed, you’ll be allowed to cross over–but in order to do that, he’ll need to see what your life was like. So the game begins, with the player being whisked back in time to when they, a precocious boy named Benjamin, were an infant.

In many ways, Before Your Eyes plays out like an interactive fable. There are really only two significant mechanics, looking at certain points in space and blinking, but the way they are implemented is emotionally effective. When a metronome appears onscreen, players are transported forward in time if they blink. Their mother may be in the middle of talking to them about the importance of practicing piano, and with a blink, they are suddenly in the backseat of the family sedan, driving to an audition for a conservatory school. The game is effectively one long montage, and is best appreciated in a single sitting.

Before Your Eyes PSVR2 Virtual Reality
Image: Skybound Games

Video games, especially in virtual reality, have long wanted to mirror real life. But Before Your Eyes sidesteps the uncanny valley by focusing on universal experiences: familial bonding and tension, feelings of displacement, loneliness, the desire for acceptance, the need to express oneself through art. The structure of every scene is familiar, but so winsomely animated and acted that it’s easy to be swept up in the emotions of any given moment. Benjamin’s mother and father, voiced by Sarah Burns and Eric Edelstein respectively, are completely believable as put-upon adults just doing their best. Careful listening is rewarded, and there’s a marvelous push-and-pull to scenes where the player, conscious of the metronome ticking away, must keep their eyes wide open if they want to hear every exchange to completion.

There is something deeply moving about rocketing from childhood to adolescence to adulthood in the span of about an hour. It is impossible not to reflect on your own life, remembering moments where you brushed past something important or didn’t fully engage with a partner when you needed to. The story of Benjamin’s life as it is presented is interesting, but Before Your Eyes manages to dig even deeper into questions of life, death, and legacy over its short runtime to become a true emotional roller coaster. Mileage may vary, of course, but some may find themselves having to literally wipes tears from the inside of their VR headset by the time all is said and done.

Before Your Eyes PSVR2 Virtual Reality
Image: Skybound Games

Before Your Eyes is profoundly moving. It subverts player expectations and manages to feel novel while avoiding the “tech demo” stigma that comes attached to the launch window of any new entertainment technology. The cliché that life goes by in the blink of an eye is literalized here in a way that is easy to understand and undeniably affecting.

Cameron Daxon is a video game evangelist and enthusiastic reader. He lives in Los Angeles, California and once nearly collided with Shigeru Miyamoto during E3. His favorite game is Bloodborne, but only when he’s not revisiting Super Mario World. He’s also in the writer’s room for YouTube personality The Completionist and other places on the internet.