Column: One blink at a time


Photo credit: Paulina DePaulo

Pictured above is the loading screen from “Before Your Eyes.” Created by GoodbyeWorld Games, the game takes players through the memories of the main character as he navigates the afterlife.

By Paulina DePaulo, Columnist

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to go through your life one blink at a time? Imagine rowing through the sea of the afterlife, tasked with painting an all-encompassing picture of who you were before your death. How would you even begin to describe it?

“Before Your Eyes” is an emotional, sentimental and absolutely gut-wrenching story-based game that simply takes you through the memories of the main character Benjamin Brynn, one blink at a time. Created by the indie game developers GoodbyeWorld Games, its release in April 2021 was highly anticipated and explosive.

The game uses face tracking technology to detect when you blink, which allows you to advance the story and interact with the different elements. The game is traditionally designed to use this tracking tech; however, I opted to use my mouse click as a replacement for authentic blinks. 

The first time I played this game was last year. My parents hosted a dinner party in my backyard, leaving me to my makeshift desk space on the formal dining table. I had a plate of mini baguette slices and barbecue and decided on a whim to try something new while I ate.

What better way to do that than end up hysterically sobbing over a second round of brisket?

For context, I don’t often cry over movies, songs or any form of emotional, tear-jerking entertainment. When I do, it’s usually a single tear that gets wiped away after a few moments, and, aside from “Titanic” when I was 10, I’m never a wailing mess. This game, however, had very different plans for me. 

As Benjamin guides the player through his past, you experience firsthand the traumatic experiences that shaped his character. You watch as he fails his big piano audition and gives a speech at his mother’s funeral, all moments that leave you deeply heartbroken. The story alone is enough to become emotional over, but when his memory becomes increasingly unreliable, you realize that his past isn’t all that it seemed to be. Once the truth was revealed in a painful plot twist, my tears really began to flow.

When I finished, my mom came running into the room in fear that something was genuinely wrong. She was pleasantly surprised to find that it was just me, my computer and the leftover coleslaw that I had to abandon to hold the tissue box. I played it again recently, and I had the exact same emotional reaction, even after knowing the ending and all of its agonizing surprises.

The artistic elements within this game are some of the best I’ve ever seen. The visuals take on a sentimental indie feel, merging simplistic cartoons with intricate backgrounds and breathtaking scenery. Additionally, the soundtrack is incredibly fitting and outstandingly raw, with my favorite track being “Mesh” by Ollie Lewin. “Mesh” is a nostalgic, mellow song that comes on at the end, right when the tears begin to flow. It quickly became a staple in my everyday playlist. The music is one of the strongest backbones of the game and immerses you fully into the tragedy and wonder of Benjamin’s story. 

“Before Your Eyes” masterfully portrays the good of one’s life alongside the bad. You watch as the main character copes with deep and damaging trauma while capturing the beauty in life. It’s a stunning representation of humanity and the brilliance of our own nature, reminding us that, sometimes, you can’t just blink past the parts of life that hurt.