Like all good walking simulators, No70: Eye of Basir has a lighthouse.
It also has an intriguing, if fairly hard to follow, story, and plenty of interesting and beautiful-looking locations for you to explore. Like all bad walking simulators though, it has zero signposting and leaves you with the unshakeable feeling that the game designer expects you to have psychic powers.
But let me back up a bit. Released on Steam at the end of June, No70: Eye of Basir is a self-proclaimed walking simulator that dips its toe into the supernatural/horror genre. Placed in the shoes of Aras, Eye of Basir is a short journey through your past, learning about the creepy house where you grew up and the mysterious happenings that went on around it.
I say ‘dips its toe into’ because, while No70: Eye of Basir has some genuinely scary (and brilliant) moments, much of its atmosphere is lost in the game’s middle – and longest – section. With three chapters overall, Eye of Basir starts off in a run-down, dark, and intensely creepy old house. With winding corridors, freaky portraits and doors that open and close of their own volition, there’s plenty to keep you on the edge of your seat. There are even a few jump scares thrown in there, too. Chapter Three is a similar, albeit shorter section, but with the creep-factor turned up to 11. There are moments that almost reach a Silent Hill-level of atmosphere here, with rooms changing in front of your eyes and other cool things that I don’t want to spoil for you.
Chapter Two, however, has a very different feel altogether. While still having a few creepy moments, the tension of the other two chapters isn’t to be found here, making for a somewhat disjointed experience. Don’t get me wrong – there’s still an engaging atmosphere, and some nice areas to explore, but it doesn’t really pass off as horror. It’s a shame, because Chapter Two is markedly longer than the other two, and feels like the main substance of the game.
The biggest problem with No70: Eye of Basir, though, is just how much backtracking you’re required to do to get anywhere. As a walking simulator, any puzzle or interaction in the game is fairly straightforward and minimal. The problem arises in the fact that Eye of Basir has absolutely no signposting, and a ridiculous cause-and-effect action throughout the game. Interact with a random object, and a completely unrelated door that was locked before will now suddenly be open. It doesn’t make much narrative sense, but it’s most annoying because it doesn’t tell you that said door has opened. You just have to somehow know to walk back the way you’ve already been five times and spot what’s different.
It’s an annoying theme throughout the game that left me constantly feeling stuck – thank god for internet walkthroughs. Having to backtrack through the same areas multiple times gets pretty tiring, and does suck out some of the mystery that the game otherwise tries very hard to build. Given that if you know exactly where you’re going, No70: Eye of Basir can be completed in a little over an hour, it’s likely a way to just prolong the gameplay time – it took me almost three hours to complete thanks to the extra wandering around I had to do in trying to figure out where to go next.
Despite its problems though, No70: Eye of Basir actually surprised me. By no means is it perfect, but coming from a little-known Turkish developer, Oldmoustache Gameworks, there’s a lot to be applauded for an ambitious first major project. It looks beautiful for one, with gorgeous lighting effects that bring every area to life, and great audio design that really complements the game’s atmosphere. It’s a shame that it wasn’t better signposted, but even though backtracking got frustrating, it wasn’t enough to make me want to stop playing; Eye of Basir‘s atmosphere and intriguing story spurred me to carry on.
If you’re a fan of walking simulators with a penchant for horror, No70: Eye of Basir is worth keeping an eye out for. It might not blow you away, but there’s still enough to make it a worthwhile entry into a quickly-saturating genre.