Published on June 2nd, 2023 | by Gareth Newnham
Before Your Eyes (PSVR2) Review
Summary: Before Your Eyes is a heat warming tale of a life well lived, and one of the best titles PSVR2 has to offer.
Before Your Eyes is an incredibly powerful and moving tale that everyone needs to play, and the PSVR2 may be the best way to experience it yet.
Previously released for the PC and also available on mobile via Netflix, Before Your Eyes see players take on the role of a soul being ferried to the afterlife by a scruffy-looking ferryman (a down-on-his-luck Anubis) trying to find a soul worthy of entering paradise.
This isn’t a matter of does your heart weigh less than a feather though, what the ferryman needs is a story, one of a life well lived, and he thinks that yours might just be the tale to get him on the good side of the gatekeeper to the afterlife.
But there’s a problem, as an incorporeal soul you’re not in the best state to tell your story; you can’t move, you can’t talk, you can only blink.
Thus the life of Benjamin ‘Benny’ Brynn flashes before your eyes. (get it) from his earliest memories as a toddler at the beach to meeting his childhood sweetheart, his time as a childhood piano virtuoso, and then moving to the big city to become a successful artist. All the important moments of Beeny’s life are presented front and centre. The Ferryman knows there’s a great tale there, so long as he can find it. The problem is every time you blink time is moved forward and each scene abruptly ends. It is a literal case of blink and you miss it.
In the original PC version, your blinks were tracked via webcam, but this new PSVR2 port uses the headset’s built-in eye tracking wizardry to detect when you blink while looking around a scene is as simple as moving your head. It’s impressive stuff and makes you really feel like you are present in each scene.
It’s a really effective way to experience a story and your feeling of connection is further enhanced by the brilliant use of 3D audio so you can hear where people are coming from, the subtle noises of a quiet room when Benny is alone with their thoughts.
As Benny’s memories are presented in front of you important figures from his life emerge from the swirling darkness around you. As you desperately try not to blink so you can see every last important moment before it slips away.
Thankfully it’s not as intense a staring match as you would expect and each carefully constructed scene marks its interactive moments with an eye icon, while the times you’ll skip ahead to the next scene if you blink are marked with a ticking metronome.
Though most of the time you are free to blink. I became weirdly aware of what my eyes were doing and the level of control to not blink felt surprisingly draining. Even so it’s impossible not to blink eventually and the devs know it.
If you find it hard not to blink, there is the option to change the blink controls from eye tracking to a button press. It might detract from the experience a little, but it does also make for a slightly more relaxing experience. You can also replay chapters from the main menu if you feel really bad about missing part of an important scene because you couldn’t keep your eyes open.
It’s a story you won’t want to miss a moment of either. It’s a moving and beautiful tale, well told and filled with the kind of universal themes that are bound to kick anyone right in the feels. Though it’s a fairly brief tale running at about 90 minutes, the pace is brisk, (even more so if you blink a lot) but it’s heavy-hitting moments. Oh boy, I don’t want to ruin it, but if you aren’t a little teary by the end I’m afraid you might be a sociopath.
Before Your Eyes has picked up a couple of quirks with the move to VR. Sometimes the camera is placed in an odd place that makes it feel like you are constantly staring up at the world from the floor even when you’re supposed to be a full-grown adult. The metronome also sits right in the middle of the screen and looks incredibly large. Maybe this was done to increase the tension a little, but it brought me out of the experience a little whenever it rocked up on the screen.
There’s also the occasional clipping issue, but this is just a minor quibble that seems to be a quirk of most VR games made with Unity.
Playing Before Your Eyes on PSVR2 is by far the best way to experience one of the most unique and heart-wrenching games I have ever played. In VR you are literally placed as close to the action as you can possibly be and with that it makes an already beautiful story feel all the more personal and moving as a result. If you have taken the PSVR2 plunge Before Your Eyes needs to be in your library.