We review No 70 Eye of Basir, a horror exploration PC game that uses familiar elements from other titles to create a suitably creepy atmosphere.
So far in 2017 we’ve been treated to some solid horror games on PC. The year started strongly with the hernia-inducing Resident Evil 7 and since then we’ve played a great range of creepy and shocking games, with one of our favourites being Lovecraft-inspired indie title Conarium.
The latest horror game to slither onto Steam is No 70 Eye of Basir, an exploration-style adventure which has you searching for your missing brother within the suitably creepy confines of your childhood home.
Eye of Basir reminded us somewhat of Empathy Path of Whispers, another horror title that launched on Steam recently. Like Empathy, Eye of Basir’s gameplay mostly involves walking through the environment and finding the next ‘hotspot’ to interact with. Interaction is limited, so you’re mostly just wandering around and examining notes and other items.
Occasionally you’ll need to solve a simple puzzle in order to progress, although this is rarely more complex than using a collected item in the correct place. For instance, pick up a key and you obviously have to find the correct door to unlock.
However, Eye of Basir does occasionally throw a metaphorical brick wall at you, leaving you wondering what you’re actually supposed to be doing. Quite often, the solution is to backtrack until some other event is triggered. For instance, I regularly found myself walking aimlessly through the corridors and rooms of the house until somewhere a door automatically opened, without any warning. This is made a little more frustrating by the redundant ‘run’ button, which has seemingly no impact on the snail pace of the protagonist. You might as well choose between ‘slow lumber’ and ‘drowsy saunter’.
Fairly early on in the game you’ll locate a mysterious eyeglass, which reveals sinister supernatural shenanigans hidden around the grimy halls. This reminded me instantly of the Scrye skill in Clive Barker’s Undying. Activate the lens and suddenly painting subjects will deform into foul beasts, or ghostly markings will appear to show you the way. It’s not an original horror game mechanic but at least it’s used quite effectively in Eye of Basir (and not to excess). It’s just a shame it wasn’t used as a basis for some clever puzzles.
Presentation throughout the game is solid enough for an indie title. You occasionally run into a slight graphical glitch or a roughly translated document, although such indiscretions are easily overlooked.
So, onto a rather pertinent question for a horror game: Is Eye of Basir actually scary? Well, there are certainly plenty of creepy moments spread throughout the short running time, although like the Scrye mechanic, there’s a sense that we’ve seen it all before. Sinister dolls appearing slumped in previously vacant corridors. Spooky black and white photos of children from back in the day. Doors suddenly closing and things moving unexpectedly. All very much present and correct.
You also get plenty of creepy sound effects to bolster the sinister atmosphere, although these seem to mostly kick into life at random intervals rather than choosing their moments for maximum impact.
Those deja-vu scares and regular backtracking sadly make No 70 Eye of Basir a tricky game to recommend to horror fans. However, there are glimpses of a good, scary title lurking within, which makes us hopeful that Oldmoustache Gameworks will improve on this game for its next release and hopefully produce a proper pant-soiling experience.