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No70: Eye of Basir – Horror Review

Written by Jonathan Lee. July, 4, 2017, 11:00 AM. Tweet to: @Writerscube


A Studio Makes Its Horror Debut

On the 28th of June, 2017, the Turkish studio of Oldmoustache Gameworks released the anticipated psychological horror/adventure game known as No70: Eye of Basir. Known first for being on the Steam Greenlight program back in 2015, the game was finally released for players to follow the investigations of the brothers Aras and Erhan. According to Evren Özgüner, community manager of Oldmoustache Gameworks, “Gamers have been excited about No70: Eye of Basir ever since we ran the Steam Greenlight campaign back in 2015. We’re happy to say that their patience has been rewarded. No70: Eye of Basir is unlike any first-person exploration game on Steam today: a harrowing journey that transcends blood ties and time itself.”

No70: Eyes of Basir
No, no, no–I meant below the first paragraph, not the frikin’ floor. Geez, you’ll singe your eyebrows off!

What’s In the Game?

For those unfamiliar with the game since it was first brought up two years ago, No70: Eye of Basir is a first-person adventure game that’s supposed to have psychological horror and paranormal elements in both its story as well as presentation. The story revolves around an old house that supposedly is based around a true story. Volkan Demir, founder and director of Oldmoustache Gameworks had said: “House No. 70 is out there. The game is based on real events that took place in that very house decades ago.”

As the player, you’ll play as the brothers Aras and Erhan as they investigate the old House No. 70. Apparently, the last time they had really lived there was when their grandmother was still alive. Then one brother went off and became a well-known historian and archaeologist, while the other became a creative director of sorts and mysteriously vanishes. With some time jumps in-between chapters, players witness both return home to find it filled with a sense of foreboding and mysterious happenings abound. For example, I went through the house looking for clues–and suddenly the furniture had switched places and a hallway was boarded up. Spooky stuff!

The gameplay revolves mostly around narrative puzzles that lead you from main plot point to main plot point. You eventually run across an artifact known as Basir. It looks like a decorated glass eye-piece–but really, it lets you see into the world beyond, which will come in handy when you have to look for further clues.

No70: Eyes of Basir
The power of the Basir! So glad my glasses don’t do this when I look through them.

The Basir

While the Basir is supposed to let you see into the world beyond–it feels like the world beyond is relatively empty. There were only several instances in which I actually saw a ghost, an apparition, or a clue while using Basir. And while some were a little jump-scary, the others you saw coming. I was hoping for more. But maybe there’s more to this. Maybe it’s not really about the ghosts as it is about the story behind the Basir.

Aside from a few cinematics in which we hear the brothers talk about their lives, or the house, the rest of the story exposition really comes from leaflets and pictures that you find laying around. Like Amnesia: The Dark Descent, you’ll find paragraphs of information in these letters and framed pictures. Almost all the story is told in this way. What characters we meet come in the form of those ghosts I mentioned earlier. But you don’t get a grasp of who they are. The closest you ever get to one of those “characters” is when it pushes you into a table. Oh, and one teased me with balloons.

The story eventually goes from family history and ghostly happenings to a plot about other-dimensional gates that need to be sealed. A brotherhood of people that sought to keep the world safe. And notes about this group’s collective canker sore as they try to control the Basir, but apparently can’t because the Basir has a mind of its own.

Impressions

I found myself feeling underwhelmed by the time I got to the end. Despite my gripes about the lack of character interaction, I found myself intrigued by the exposition given by those letters, those leaflets, the creepy portraits–I’m a sucker for stories, guys. I really am! And I wanted to know this great story that was waiting to unfold. I searched high and low for every tidbit of information in the game.

But the ending left me wondering… what happened?

Now, I know what happened as in “What happened in that ending?” You end up sealing these paranormal gates that keep out the dark forces (that we really don’t see, save for the few ghostly apparitions). But I didn’t feel like I walked away WITH something. Or maybe the best way to describe it is… I’m trying to figure out IF I did. It felt unfinished, and rightly so! Oldmoustache Games has already announced that there’s free DLC coming soon, and it is my hope that in this DLC there will be answers to all the questions that the ending created–and the questions that the ending did not answer.

And that might be why I’m feeling a tad empty on this game–for now. I ended up having lots of questions on the Brotherhood, the gates, the Basir, and heck, THE BROTHERS THAT WE’RE PLAYING AS. Aside from piloting these brothers around and poking at things, I didn’t feel like I knew either of them outside of their career life. Maybe I’m asking for too much. I was hoping to feel as invested in the protagonists as I felt in the mystery of the Basir and the brotherhood, these otherworldly gates, the house. I know more about the brothers’ grandmother than I know of these two guys. All these things needing to be answered and fleshed out–that free DLC better be huge.

No70: Eyes of Basir
It all kind of… left me hanging like these guys.

Final Thoughts

How do I say it? I enjoyed this game for what it was–the music was atmospheric. The Unreal Engine visuals were engaging, and created a place that begged exploration. But I never felt fulfilled at any point. So many questions, very few answers. Characters I want to really know, but I’m as separated from them as the brothers are from the ghosts and spectral sights they witness through the Basir, despite the brothers having these things happen right in front of them (it’s just… nothing really happens). Disconnection. I think that’s the word. A continual experience of disconnection. There’s a piece missing–a big piece missing from the circuit that would make this game truly come to life. There’s all this potential that I see here and there, but there’s no threading to bring it all together. Not even with all the letters and leaflets with all their exposition.

I’m sincerely hoping that the upcoming DLC will be that missing piece, that missing thread! Until then, I may have to give this game an Average score. A Buy-When-On-Sale.

You can find the game’s Steam Store Page here!

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