We didn’t expect to be crying our eyes out while inside a VR headset, but here we are.
Perhaps you’ve already heard of Before Your Eyes. It first released in 2021, and quickly made waves thanks to its unique control scheme. You see, Before Your Eyes was designed to be controlled entirely with your eyes. In the non-VR version, that means using a webcam to detect when you blink. But now, with a brand new VR version of the game available on PSVR 2, it’s more immersive and responsive than ever.
As we wrote in our original review for the non-VR version of Before Your Eyes, we had a few issues with blink detection, with our webcam either detecting additional blinks or taking a little time to pick up our eye movements. Thanks to PSVR 2’s eye tracking, however, in the headset the detection is flawless. You don’t need any type of controller to play once you’re inside the experience: simply put your Sense controllers down, sit back, and allow yourself to get fully immersed.
Before Your Eyes starts by introducing you to a ferryman: a strange creature responsible for taking souls for their final judgement. It’s a rather fantastical introduction to what ends up being a very grounded, human tale. You see, Before Your Eyes is actually the story of Benny – he’s the soul currently being transported. You’ll witness Benny’s story from start to finish, beginning with him as a tiny baby.
Some of the moments of Benny’s life are fleeting, and you’re in charge of changing the scene by blinking. There are occasional other things in a scene to interact with, again through eye tracking with you looking at and blinking at various points of interest. But when a scene can be changed, a metronome will appear on screen, and your blink will transport you to the next important moment of Benny’s life.
Key here is that sometimes, a scene might not quite be finished when the metronome appears. A conversation might still be going on, and you might want to stay in the moment to see what else unfolds. But trying to stop yourself from blinking is difficult. It’s a purposeful design choice of Before Your Eyes: these moments are designed to be fleeting. Don’t worry, though: by the time the credits roll on the game, you’ll have the full picture.
And when you do get the full picture, it’ll likely have a big impact on you. We didn’t see it coming. Of course, we know Before Your Eyes ends with Benny’s death: after all, we’re introduced to his soul as it’s being transported to the afterlife. But the narrative twist thrown into the experience really did take us aback. It’s a beautifully told story, and in the medium of VR, we feel closer to it than ever before. And so its emotional beats hit hard.
Benny’s story isn’t always a happy one, and you’ll likely draw your own conclusions about him and his family. He’s grown up with an overbearing mother, desperate for him to be a musical prodigy. Although the brief snippets of his life don’t give us a full picture, we get the idea that he’s spent a lot of time by himself without many friends around. There is one key person in his life, however: the young girl who lives next door. Seeing their relationship flourish is beautiful – although that isn’t without its turbulence, either.
Before Your Eyes is a short game: after about 90 minutes the credits will be rolling – and, chances are, so will the tears down your face. This is a clever narrative that packs a punch, and its inventive design means it’s unlike anything you’ve played before. It isn’t a game that needs to be in VR, but being fully immersed in the world really does take it to the next level. The PSVR 2’s eye tracking means you can play flawlessly too without any detection issues.
A beautiful but short experience, Before Your Eyes isn’t going to be for everyone. But if you’re a fan of emotional, human stories, you won’t want to miss it. Controlled solely with your eyes, it’s like nothing else you’ve ever played. Just be prepared to wipe the tears from your PSVR 2 headset when you’re done.