It’s quite tough for me to get properly into a horror game. I’m a bit of a scaredy-cat to begin with, but a good horror game can still appeal to me. I’m not overly well versed in them, mainly because I don’t really play them as they don’t appeal to me too much. I am always up for giving games a go though, and when they toss in some potentially interesting backstory, I’m well in there. That is almost exactly what No70: Eye of Basir promises. A lengthy story about your now-deceased grandmother, and a mysterious chest held within her house, where you’ve experienced numerous paranormal events? Sounds interesting to me!
There’s plenty of things going on in the house. A large number of documents, newspaper cuttings and various other tidbits to find that add enormously to the story, and it is very engaging. Finding out more about the situation you’re in is a very intriguing experience. You’re never really given a direct excerpt or anything, but you can cobble bits together using the notes dotted around. Plodding around the creepy mansion to find these bits is fun, and every time you use a bit of information to learn a new fact or work out a puzzle is fantastic.
In terms of setting, the developers have really excelled in setting in a creepy vibe. You’re stuck in a very low-light house, in the middle of a massive storm, trying to manoeuvre around the place to solve the hidden mysteries. I’ll admit I never felt totally terrified, but there was a constant uneasy feeling following me as I investigated the premises. I never thought the game would be scary on the levels of Amnesia or Soma, but I was still going around every corner with some trepidation that something would happen to me.
No70: Eye of Basir promises difficult puzzles, and lots of them. For me, a man that likes his puzzles, this was a lure I couldn’t pass up. I love a good puzzle, and puzzle games are my favourite to play. The harder the puzzle, the more fun the game is, so I really thought I couldn’t lose with this game. Unfortunately, the developers have muddled up their words a tad. “Challenging” could be replaced with either inscrutable or basic, and “plenty” should definitely be replaced with “a couple”. There are a couple of decent puzzles in the game, but unfortunately they are few and far between. Right at the start, I was wondering exactly what I had to do, because the game wasn’t very good at explaining itself. Turns out, I had to go and remove a scrap of paper that was jammed into a statue’s skull, but how was I to know that? I walked passed it multiple times, noting it was shiny, but not knowing how to take it out or anything. It’s an absurd design choice that was a massive hindrance to gameplay.
The puzzles do get worse though. The game isn’t very ‘clever’. If you are fortunate enough to work something out ahead of time, you don’t get to use that information. You have to play through the game exactly as prescribed by the developers, even though you could probably have missed out a chunk of backtracking. I can understand that, as a developer, it can be tricky to foresee how players can skip certain parts, but it can happen. The solution is to write your code defensively, so that if the unthinkable happens, you deal with it and players don’t suffer some immersion breaking irritation. It’s remarkable that, at the start of the game when I’m faced with a keypad, I have no idea how to use it or what it is. Couple of hours in the creepy mansion and lo and behold, I’ve developed the cognition to press buttons. A truly remarkable bit of character progression, going from a wandering vegetable to someone that can push buttons.
The Final Word
I felt very let down by No70: Eye of Basir. I went into it expecting a few scares, and a number of challenging, complex puzzles. I came out having experienced a really disappointing couple of hours in an admittedly well crafted house. I wasn’t scared, I didn’t feel like my brain had been tickled. I just felt let down. To it’s credit, the game does hit the spooky nail on the head, but I never felt threatened, or that I was about to get jumped or anything. Just an underlying feeling of “oh, that’s creepy”. It’s not a terrible game, but it definitely needs a bit of work to add some shine to it.