Developed By: 100 stones interactive
Published By: 100 stones interactive
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC
Reviewed On: Nintendo Switch
Most of the times, puzzle adventure games get overlooked on the account that they are not mainstream enough for typical gamers out there. The Eyes of Ara started initially as a Kickstarter project with this point-and-click puzzle adventure puzzle game paying homage to classic titles such as Myst and The Room. Would this game from a niche genre have a place to stay among the other juggernaut indie titles such as Hollow Knight, Celeste, & Dead Cells?
*Note that even though this game is developed by the company 100 stones interactive, it is basically a one-man show by the founder Ben Droste. Kudos.
The premise of the game starts off rather simple you are an engineer, tasked to investigate the radio signals coming from an abandoned castle. Guess what was the hobby of the previous castle owner? Puzzles! You arrive by boat and the game lets you off to enjoy what it has to offer.
No Stone Left Unturned
For those that are new to this genre, I hope you all love Waldo because there will be a lot of interactable objects, notes, contraptions, and machinery well hidden among the other objects in the scenery (mainly rooms of the castles). The game has done a great job in integrating what is interactable in the environment and what is not. Its placed so well that some times you will miss solutions that have been staring at you in the face even since entering the room. Trust me, you will miss a lot so be sure to be on the lookout for everything. A tip I can offer is that always give a thorough lookout for every interactable object. There may be times that you will miss a key or a note sitting right next to the one thing you were focusing on (I sure did)
If you think the game is too hard, do take note that there are options to make those interactable objects shine/highlighted in the settings screen, but I say enjoy the challenge!
Pen & Paper is your Best Friend
As with all puzzle adventure games, they all start with kiddish difficulty and simple logic puzzles that require some creative thinking. Don’t let that fool you though as the further players progress through the game (especially towards the end of the chapters) players will find a shower of information being presented to them with multiple puzzles waiting for your answers. Though I got through most of the puzzles just scribbling away mentally in my head with what might be the solutions, it would be very convenient to have a paper or notebook tucked at your side for you to make notes, since going through all the information at a time to see which is relevant to a puzzle that you are solving may not be convenient. I find myself at times cycling through the documents only to notice the answer after going through them the third time. Writing down clues is recommended, though optional.
While the puzzles are what I would say mostly logic puzzles, they are not to be taken lightly either. Though you may not have to be a world-renowned rocket scientist to solve them, they are brain teasers that will give you a sense of enjoyment upon solving. Try not to pull your hair every time you’re stuck. Sometimes leaving the game for a while & coming back with a fresh mind is all that you need. That being said, this is not an indie game that is meant to be speedrunned as you’ll probably end up feeling more infuriated than rewarded.
I will not go through much details regarding the puzzles as they are essentially the meat & the backbone of this game. All I can say is that the developer has done a fine job in creating all the puzzle elements and how they fit seamlessly into the theme of the game. You will see the same elements being reused over & over at times, but most if not all will have a different puzzle concept each time. It feels simply ingenious and that is what is both charming & gratifying in The Eyes of Ara. As you continue on with your puzzle-solving, you will find bits & pieces of the story being unfolded to you through the means of the puzzle.
The story itself is actually short and rather forgettable. Then again, the catch here is still the puzzles.
You may be waiting for some information regarding the other aspects of the game, such as the mind-blowing visuals of a triple-A game, or the audiophile-approved sound quality. Unfortunately for you, you will not find it here in this game, though to be fair, you shouldn’t. (Shame on you if you did)
There were only two parts of the visuals that made me stop to enjoy the scenery, the first one would be immediately at the start of the game by the boat and the other one would be just before the final part of the game. Other places were rather atmospheric but bland, though it wasn’t a minus point for me as the puzzles were something that I was really looking forward to and welcomed. Plus, I’m more of a gameplay guy than a graphic guy myself.
Audio-wise, again, nothing that stands out. As a matter of fact, it could even be said that there are almost none except for the cues that you get when you solve a puzzle or had gotten a key item. Again, not the focus of the game, so I wouldn’t penalise the game based on that.
In terms of price, for me, definitely not worth the full price tag for me. Though if it is on sale, do get it. It will keep you playing for a week or so since the game has almost ten hours of content. Not much point of replaying it, but since its a puzzle game, you wouldn’t expect to.
Last but not least, I do have to point out here that I find it playing on Switch feels very natural to me. I only played it in handheld mode but this feels like the only mode to play it on, to be honest. The amount of moving & looking around is done best with the Switch’s touchscreen, & even if the PC version does it well with the mouse, the portability of the Switch puts it as the version of choice for playing this game. In my opinion anyways.
- Atmospheric with a flair of mystery .
- Easy to get into. Appeals to variety of audience, even those who are new to video games.
- Puzzles involve logic, & considered fair for everyone. Creative ways of using same assets but applying to puzzles with different principles.
- Comfy level +. Not to be rushed, otherwise will lose its charm.
- Switch version is the way to go. Portability wins.
- Musics & sounds almost non-existent, except for sound cues when you solve puzzles & gather key items.
- Story is forgettable & meh.
- Not worth the full price tag. Get it on sales.
- No replay value Worth probably 8-9 hours of gameplay.
I do salute Ben Droste. As with all games, The Eyes of Ara has its flaws, though considering the amount of effort put into this game was mainly by one man, I have to say it’s a job well done on his end. The Eyes of Ara is not a must-buy game but it is a pleasing (occasionally rage-inducing) breath of fresh air which can fit among your other titles sitting in the backlog. Give it a try it if you feel like taking a break from the bigger titles.