Eyes In The Dark review: Embrace the chiaroscuro in this unique roguelight
Minimalism and usage of black and white in the videogame industry have been seen many times in games like Undertale and Limbo. Eyes In The Dark takes the same aesthetic values in its way and gives players a unique overall experience.
Being a gamer who likes challenging games, I felt intrigued when I got my first hands-on Eyes In The Dark. The 2D-plane gameplay and unusual use of light is something I haven’t seen in indie games, which had me set on the game.
Eyes In The Dark: Let the light lead you through the darkness
As I previously mentioned, I’m a fan of games that are generally challenging, like the Dark Souls series. Thus, my interest was piqued when I started playing Eyes In The Dark. The game is punishing when mistakes are made, so learning every enemy attack pattern was crucial to progress through the game.
Light plays a huge role in Eyes in The Dark when traversing through the levels, as what lies ahead of players is always a mystery. In terms of narrative, the game also uses 1920 film-like black dialogue cards to fit the theme.
Hard punishing gameplay, arcade-y music, and random procedural level design were enough to keep me hooked and didn’t disappoint me for a second. However, it made me frustrated and sweated profusely in multiple instances.
Gameplay: Dodge or die - The rules are simple
In Metroidvania games, dodging plays a huge role as one mistake can cost a lot. However, the game isn’t tough if players master the game mechanics to defeat the enemies swiftly.
Speaking of defeating enemies, Victoria Bloom has a unique torch that can hurt various critters infesting the Bloom Mansion. The best part about the torch is Victoria being a descendant of the Bloom family, who can tinker with it to adjust and upgrade the torch.
One of Bloom Mansion’s distinctive features would be randomized level layouts that keep changing when Victoria loses her life. This made my every run unique as none of the levels were the same.
However, dealing with all kinds of enemies at once made the game further challenging for me. Moreover, the map layout changes on every elimination forced me to be careful.
Nonetheless, with pretty much smooth gameplay, every exploration simultaneously felt fun and delightfully frustrating. When I overcame the hurdles thrown at me, I felt a sense of achievement, which I look for in such challenging games.
To make the game slightly less frustrating, Eyes In The Dark has a perk system that players can unlock by gaining books on each exploration. Players can make their journey through the scary mansion easier and beat the game by using these perks.
Story and narrative: Looks like the 1920s
The first and foremost thing that caught my attention was the game’s storytelling style. When the game starts, it uses dialogue cards that were mostly seen in 1920 era silent films. Even though it is a small detail, using Chaplin-era dialogue cards instead of voiceover dialogue sets the theme for the game.
The story features Victoria Bloom, a small child from a family of inventors who made great breakthroughs throughout generations. In 1922, the youngest Bloom visited her grandpa at the Bloom Mansion, her ancestral home.
Upon reaching, Victoria surprisingly finds herself in a pitch-dark environment that can only be traversed with a torch. As soon as the child sees her grandpa, he gets instantly abducted by the darkness leaving the young Bloom to rescue her guardian.
Visuals and performance: Don’t let the simplistic art style fool you
The black and white monotone color palette perfectly fits the game’s theme as it was set in 1922. The hand-drawn background for every level also caught my attention and made the mansion feel eerie.
All the animations of Victoria and other critters looked extremely smooth during gameplay and didn’t feel clunky. The HUDs and other miscellaneous things fit the arcade-y gameplay I enjoyed seeing every moment.
Besides smooth animations, Eyes in The Dark performed pretty well in providing a good game experience and didn’t feel laggy at any moment.
In Conclusion: Use the light to progress, die, and repeat
I think that Eyes In The Dark is a really good indie game that feels unique on every progression. While the challenges the game puts out to players seem difficult, it is the very thing that players should embrace while playing the game. The feeling of getting punished by games has almost become a lost trend with auto-save, but Eyes in The Dark does bring the old times back.
The arcadey music and sound design made the game fun to progress and hit a nostalgic feeling I can’t quite put into words. The game is also visually appealing in its art style, and I loved the small detail of using black and white as it resonates with the 1920s.
If players are looking for a challenging game that feels retro, Eyes In The Dark is just the right pick for them. The visuals, sound, and other mechanics are well polished and the game is recommended for players to try it out in 2022.
Eyes In The Dark: The Curious Case of One Victoria Bloom (2022)
Reviewed on: PC (Review code provided by Gearbox Publishing)
Platform: Windows PC.
Developer: Under the Stairs, Under the Stairs Limited.
Publisher: Gearbox Publishing.
Release date: July 14, 2022.