Before Your Eyes, a brilliant game that uses eye-detection to create the sensation of life flashing before your eyes as you blink, is coming to mobile today. In fact, it’s coming to Netflix at no extra cost for the streaming service’s subscribers.
When the PC version launched last year, our Before Your Eyes review bestowed a perfect five-star score on the game. We wrote, “The graphics are fairly simple, but the storytelling is masterful, and that feeling like life is slipping through your fingers is something that makes this experience hugely memorable.”
Before Your Eyes began life as a college project, before acquiring funding from various places (including Kickstarter, RYOT and Robert Kirkman’s Skybound Games) and ultimately releasing on PC after seven years of development. Set in a quirky afterlife, the game sees you darting through the main character’s life — at certain moments, if you blink, you’ll be thrust forward in time to a later point in their story.
Ahead of the Before Your Eyes mobile release on Netflix, RadioTimes.com spoke to two of the game’s core developers via Zoom. Read on to see what Graham Parkes and Oliver Lewin, from the indie developer GoodbyeWorld Games, told us about the game’s impending arrival on Netflix as a mobile experience.
“I think we always wanted this game to come to mobile,” Parkes told us. “Two reasons being: one, that face detection is very sophisticated, you have high quality cameras on basically all smartphones now. So it felt like just a natural fit there.
“And then also, we were always trying to design a game that wasn’t just for gamers or wasn’t just for hardcore gamers, we always wanted this game to be something that anyone could enjoy. It feels like mobile is a marketplace where people who aren’t your traditional console gamer can have these sorts of experiences.”
Getting your game onto mobile devices isnt always easy, though. As Parkes puts it, “The mobile space right now, it’s hard to make a business case to just go up on the App Store with a narrative-focused game at this point. It’s just so easy to get buried. So we always sort of wanted to do it – we were quite desperate to do a mobile version – but we just sort of knew we needed to find the right partner.
“At that point, we were already off and away in developing our next title. And so they brought on Be Calm to work with us, to help make the port of it, and it’s been a really, really smooth and exciting process, especially after so many years of everything being so difficult and having to do everything ourselves, to just sort of have this really amazing mobile version – which to us feels like, if not equally as good, maybe the best way to play the game – just come to life in front of our eyes, it’s been a really cool process.”
But how does being on mobile alter the game? Lewin says, “I think it changes it in kind of subtle ways. You know, for one, the kind of visual experience is a little different, depending on whether you’re playing it vertically or horizontally, or going between the two. There’s also kind of a more of a tactile feel, because you’re controlling the camera with your fingers.
“I think the eye-detection sometimes is more consistent and better, because there’s less kind of unforeseen variables that come into play with computer webcams. But I still think that it has the kind of the same kind of very concise, intense energy that that the The PC version has.” He goes on to add, “We tried to streamline certain things to make it feel a bit more like a mobile game, to have less text and things like that, but to answer your question directly I don’t think it’s very different.”
Netflix is still a relatively new player in the gaming space, of course, with members only gaining access to mobile games through the service within the last year. Parkes recalls, “When we heard about it, we were just really excited, but we didn’t really know what to expect. Like, what games are we going to be next to? What else is Netflix is going to be doing? And it’s been really amazing to see that they’ve been sort of stealthily building up this really amazing lineup [of games],
With games like Kentucky Route Zero, Spiritfarer, Into the Breach and Sam Barlow’s Immortality coming to Netflix with mobile versions, Before Your Eyes is certainly in good company on the streaming service. Parkes describes these as “games that we love, that to us are some of the best indie games of the last few years”.
He adds, “We’ve always believed that narrative games, that are not about challenge, that are not about winning or losing, but are just about experiencing an interactive story… we’ve always felt that those games can appeal to a broader audience that don’t consider themselves gamers, and there’s an audience out there that might love these experiences.
“But they just have no means of discovering them or checking them out. Because if [you don’t think of yourself as a gamer], why would you have a Steam account? Why would you? So, I mean, we’ll see what happens, but the hope with something like Netflix is, it’s just included in your subscription. If you’re using the mobile app anyway, you’re going to just see it there.
“And so the hope is that, you know, because Netflix has such a wide variety of subscribers, that it will bring some people to our game, and to other games in our genre, that maybe haven’t been in that space before “
Before Your Eyes is out now on Netflix – you should be able to find it in the mobile app. The game is also still on Steam.
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