Review No70: Eye of Basir

  • TITLE: “No70: Eye of Basir”
  • DEVELOPER: Oldmoustache Gameworks
  • PUBLISHER:  Artcom FZC
  • GENRE: Horror Puzzle Adventure
  • PLATFORM: Windows, HTC Vive
  • PRICE: $9.99 USD
  • RELEASE DATE: June 28, 2017

 

Quick Review

Constant backtracking to pick up solutions for “puzzles” and a lack of save spots between chapters make this walking simulator a frustrating experience for those looking for a horror adventure game. The game succeeds in creating spooky atmospheres through well designed environments and good sound design, but jump scares fall flat, and the player will see the same areas over and over. No70: Eye of Basir’s story starts with an interesting premise, but is never fully explored. The story is communicated by notes not in game experience and ends abruptly.

Full Review

Erhan and Aras grew up with their grandmother in a mysterious house with the address No70. They witnessed several paranormal events in the ten years they lived there, and went their separate ways after their grandmother’s death. . After the death of grandmother, the two brothers abandoned the house and so have different lives. 20 years later, Erhan wakes up and discovers his house is changing around him. While trying to figure out this mystery, he makes a discovery and disappears. Aras, not hearing from his brother in a long time, sets out to find him and begins to uncover an ancient mystery that leads him back to a familiar address.

Eye of Basir is marketed as a horror adventure game, but in reality it is closer to a first person walking simulator like Everybody Goes to the Rapture. Very few items can be interacted with in the environment, which you can find by watching for the cursor to turn red as it hovers over the object. Very few items in the environment are able to be interacted with, with only a few pictures and sculptures able to be picked up and looked at in the first chapter. The puzzles in this game are very disappointing. They almost always boil down to placing an object in another object like the in the first Resident Evil where you would have place two halves of an amulet in a door to continue. I would argue that there are only two real puzzles in this game, where the player has to deduce clues in the environment, and manipulate it for the solution. The rest of the time, the player is stuck trudging back and forth from one end of the closed environment to the other, searching for the next widget to open the next area, or trigger an event.

These widgets will only appear after certain conditions are met, and there is no signposting where they may appear. In the most frustrating case, I wasted an hour looking all over the map for one small coin, hovering over every pixel to see if the cursor changed. I finally found it in an isolated side room, but there was no story reason for it to appear there LATER rather than it having been there all along when I explored the room originally.

I’m guessing that by placing necessary items at opposite ends of the short maps, the developer hoped to lengthen this short three hour experience, but the net effect is boredom and over familiarity with what should be spooky environments. As few as there were, the environments were the highlight of this game. Claustrophobic hallways in the 3 houses featured in the game or dripping mossy crypts all create tension and dread for what might be around the corner. The first time you see them. The sound design is also good, with lots of creaks and knocks that keep you guessing if you are alone.

Visual elements that didn’t work so well include every single jump scare in the game. The timing was often off, telegraphing to the player that something was about to jump at them. For example, in one case the player’s forward momentum slows to a crawl until something jumps out. More disappointingly, the elements that jump out at you have no discernible connection to the story, and in one case is actually laughable unless you have a VERY specific phobia.

Let’s discuss the story. The premise is set up well enough in the opening narration, and narration between chapters also does a good job of setting up why the player is exploring that area. The problem is all other narrative is presented by random notes pinned in various spots along the way. The notes discuss events that the player never sees on the screen, leaving the player feeling disconnected from the plot. Several story threads such as the secret society hiding the Eye of Basir are never satisfactorily explored. The game seems to be building up to a deeper secret in the final area in the final chapter, but the end is an abrupt fizzle that feels completely unsatisfactory. The final chapter is so short compared to the other two that one wonders if it was unfinished, and the game was pushed out the door anyway. This suspicion is borne out by the promise on the title screen that there will be free DLC in the future. What that DLC will add to the experience remains to be seen, but for now, No70: Eye of Basir is unsatisfying and incomplete.

Final Verdict

N070; Eye of Basir has some great spooky environments that might be fun to walk around in the VR mode, but I cannot recommend this game. Here is a short laundry list of other annoyances:

  • If you looked me up on Steam, it would appear I spent 18 hours playing. This is not the case. The game has no save system, so if you want to take a break in the middle of the chapter without starting your trudge fest over, you have to keep the game running. As I did. Overnight.
  • The game launches in Turkish, and navigating through the menu to select English was not a great start to my game.
  • Did I mention I spent an hour looking for a stupid coin with no clue which isolated corner it randomly appeared in?
  • One of the most truly terrifying things in the game is the cat animation. Seriously. What is that thing? Because it’s not a cat.
  • Several notes would not open for me. I clicked on them when the cursor went red, nothing. Hopefully not crucial plot points.
  • In the first chapter while I was learning the controls, I hit A instead of X to interact with items. That exited me out to the main menu somehow. To start the chapter over. That was NOT fun. Thankfully it only seemed to happen in the first chapter, and that may be patched.
  • Spoilers. Balloons aren’t scary. But that cat sure is.

 

A copy of this game on Steam was provided by the developer for the purpose of this review.