Written by Kurt Shafer, September 4, 2016, 10:00 a.m.
IAN’S EYES by SINDIE GAMES ~ PC/STEAM ~ $8.99
Ian’s Eyes Video Game Review
What Ian’s Eyes lacks in polish it makes up in charm. This first venture by Spanish developer Sindie Games may be a little rough around the edges but its’ unique premise and accessible gameplay makes it an easy one to pick up and play for a few hours of fun.
The titular Ian is a young, blind boy beginning his first day at Blue Norholm Elementary School, but you don’t play as Ian. You play as his seeing-eye dog, North.
After a quick tour of the school to familiarise yourself with the controls, you attend an assembly to celebrate Blue Norholm’s Centenary. During the assembly, a slide show left for the students in a time capsule has the unforeseen impact of turning them all into zombies. As Ian’s guide dog, it’s up to you to help Ian escape the school.
The game has you navigate the hallways of Blue Norholm dodging Ian’s undead classmates while searching for a way to escape. It’s a simple premise but it requires some very thoughtful and precise game design which isn’t quite present in Ian’s Eyes.
Scoping out a hallway as North, observing the zombies patterns and sneaking past or barking to catch their attention and make them give chase is fun.
The biggest problem with the zombie-dodging puzzle gameplay is that the zombies can be hard to predict at times. The difficulty of a given sequence is more often a result of being unable to anticipate the zombies movement pattern or how they will react to a given situation.
The zombies will often snap around and catch you when you thought you were safe or give chase for a longer (or shorter) distance than you anticipated. That makes it very difficult to plan a route through a cramped hallway or classroom. It’s not unplayable in inconsistency, by any means. The unpredictability does make it feel more like a somewhat clumsy third-person adventure game rather than a precise puzzler.
The graphics and audio also have their inconsistencies. The English voice acting is noticeably amateurish. The exception is Ian himself, who is voiced by Callum Janes (AKA YouTuber ProfKranc), who gives a great performance. Ian’s Eyes has a fantastic exaggerated, Tim Burton-ish, cartoon horror design.
On the whole, it gives the game a great lighthearted atmosphere punctuated by some really creepy moments, even if some of the models are a little rough and textures a little flat.
How much fun you have with Ian’s Eyes will come down to how much you can forgive its technical and design imperfections and enjoy its novel concept and spooky aesthetic. If you demand precision in your puzzlers you might find the gameplay of Ian’s Eyes a little more frustrating than satisfying. There’s definitely a few hours of fun here for anyone who wants to have the worst first day of school ever.