Eyes on You

As is my MO, I bought a cheapo little horror video game for Switch recently. It’s called Eyes: The Horror Game. If that title isn’t enough to make you cock an eyebrow in suspicion, nothing is. In actuality though, Eyes: The Horror Game is generally pretty fun! It’s a mobile port, so… you know. Super short and simple, but I can’t really leverage any major complaints.

As a survival horror game, your objective in Eyes is to run around a spooky environment whilst searching for and collecting bags of sweet, sweet cash. Oh and also there are monsters roaming around who are none too shy about murdering you. There are three stages, each with its own unique monster and mechanics. That’s not really much to burn through, but there are some extra modes and other incentives to keep playing.

The first stage is a creaky old mansion, wherein you are pursued by a creature named Krasue. This is a creature from Southeast Asian folklore (as per Wikipedia) that manifests as a floating woman’s head with internal organs dangling out from her neck-hole. Neat! Krasue will float around the stage randomly as you dart back and forth while looking for loot. The mansion doesn’t have any gimmicks, being the simple introductory stage. But it is also the most difficult to navigate, since there’s only one stairwell that connects the three floors. It quickly becomes a pain to move between floors, since there’s a high probability of Krasue hanging out in or near the stairwell at any given time. Strangely, this is the only stage that gives you a map.

The second stage is a run-down hospital, and your foe is a ghostly hospital warden named Charles. In-game text suggests that he’s capable of teleportation, but I haven’t ever been insta-gibbed by him. If he does teleport, it’s not in a way that makes him cheap. The stage’s gimmick is potions that have different effects based on how you combine them. The winning formula seems to be to always go for the invisibility concoction. This is the only stage I’ve been able to beat on hard, because said invisibility power-up is super broken if you can manage to chain a few of them together.

The final stage is a school, which has the most confusing layout of any school I’ve ever seen. Except for maybe that in Baldi’s Basics in Education and Learning. The monster here is a dog-like creature known as “good boy” who you can temporarily distract by chucking meat at him. The school’s gimmick is that all the doors will open automatically every so often, which effectively eliminates your safe spaces. Good thing you’ve got all that meat.

I’ve completed all three levels on easy and normal mode, which wasn’t very tough. The monsters move super slow on easy, and they are totally incapable of opening doors at any difficulty level. While this is mostly a boon, it makes narrow hallways a real death trap. Especially so on hard mode, since the monsters move super fast. This is what makes the stairwell in the mansion such a problem. I’ve played each stage on hard, but only managed to beat the school due to the aforementioned invisibility power-up. For the other two stages, it just gets way too difficult to avoid the super-speedy monsters, who also have questionable homing abilities.

There are also newbie and nightmare difficulty modes, which I totally missed until I was collecting the screenshots for this write-up. I didn’t try newbie, because easy is already a cakewalk. Nightmare didn’t seem any different from hard – it’s still basically impossible.

Aside from the distraction meat in the school, your only defense against the monsters are the collectible eyes glyphs scattered throughout the stages. For every glyph that you snag, you can take a glimpse through your enemy’s eyes, letting you see exactly where they are and where they’re headed. It’s… kind of handy, but there are also all sorts of spooky effects that happen when a monster is nearby, so you already have a pretty good sense of when to stay hidden. And on hard, when the monsters are lighting-quick, it’s even less helpful since they can move across the stage in the time it takes you to figure out exactly where they are.

Something I find very compelling about Eyes is the little lore drops that are handed out bit by bit, which are mostly how the story is told. You get a little narrative before and after each stage, but all the details are hidden away. Some you get as you collect so many bags of cash (meaning you have to play on hard to get the final lore bits), some are given by inspecting certain objects around the stages, and some are given by using the eye glyphs to get into the monsters’ heads. It’s a cool way of telling the story bit-by-bit, but it’s not overly effective because the translation is a bit spotty. Also the lore bits are pretty obscure, so you still have to make some logical leaps to figure it all out. I kind like that part though, as it makes for a game that’s more interesting to talk about and keeps you thinking about it even after you’re done playing.

There are a bunch of extra modes as well, to keep you playing after getting everything in the three main stages. The Halloween mode adds a cute little pumpkin monster you can chase down to get score multipliers. The “double trouble” mode tasks you with avoiding both Krasue and Charles at the same time, which is a big ol NOPE for me. Pixel mode is dumb and just pixelates the screen to a ridiculous degree. Sandbox mode lets you play without monsters. And finally, Expert mode gives you full control of all the settings to create your own nightmare.

Would I recommend Eyes: The Horror Game? Yeah, sure! I had fun with it, and I think it’s pretty solidly built. Aside from some little AI hiccups like monsters getting stuck on objects and being more than happy to just chill at choke points forever. It’s a simple, accessible, and fun game. Thankfully, the spookiness is also toned down by plenty of warning when a jumpscare is about to occur. It can still get incredibly tense, but not so much that I ever had to stop playing. There might not be a ton of unique content on offer, just variations of the three stages, but it’s a three-dollar game. I would have been perfectly happy with my purchase even without all the extra modes.

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