Eyes in the Dark: The Curious Case of Victoria Bloom, the review

Let’s see if a generational audiovisual mix manages to blend with the roguelite style in this Eyes in the Dark review.

Having a coherent idea behind your project is essential. As is the influence of the personal cultural background of those who concretize these ideas. However, don’t let yourself be overwhelmed by your intuitions. There is a limit, a dividing line that marks the maximum point of a peaceful coexistence between these and other elements within one’s work. Beyond this border, the tower collapses. The temptation to get closer and closer to that ultimate limit is a constant that distinguishes any type of author-craftsman struggling with the creation of a work of genius. Many approach it without overdoing it; others cross that line, crushed by their own creature. Still others, however, stop exactly above it, triggering a combination of unique, invasive, infesting emotions and sensations, which are embedded forever in the mind of those who witness such results. The latter are the creations of man that will stand the test of time. This preamble is used to start a discussion regarding a small independent game, developed by an equally small Croatian studio, Under the stairsbased in Zagreb.

Let’s see if this team has managed not to get carried away by the enthusiasm and to aim as close as possible to that line in this Review of Eyes in the Dark: The Curious Case of a Victoria Bloom.

A bright roguelite

Eyes in the Dark: light is a fundamental weapon

Going out on the market with a stock that does not have at least a minimum of roguelite mechanics it seems impossible for new independent studios eager to establish themselves. Eyes in the Dark is also no exception. In fact, while presenting itself with a narrative structure in chapters and an audiovisual style that would make you think more of a linear adventure, the game turns out to be anything but. We know the structure of the genre: our goal is to reach the “final boss” without dying, otherwise we have to start over, even if with some aids at our disposal that will allow us to advance more and more easily within the hostile world. of game.

Eyes in the Dark takes these dynamics and adapts them to a very “restricted” map, since the adventure is all set inside the Bloom’s mansion, a family of inventors, researchers and scientists. As little Victoria Bloom, our task is to explore the nine areas of the gloomy abode (unlocked three at a time along the course of as many narrative chapters) to find our grandfather, kidnapped by mysterious dark creatures, who move in the shadows. .

Here comes into play what, in a certain sense, is the “protagonist” of the game, that is light. In fact, a flashlight will be the weapon with which it will be possible to defend oneself from the deadly arthropods that infest the villa. If initially it is just a normal battery-powered torch, it is able to quickly transform into a real firearm, thanks to the upgrades that allow you to modify this and the other two components of the equipment: the sling and the shoes. Each upgrade grants statistical improvements and elemental effects (as well as differences in the approach to encounters), but at the cost of a few slots that can be filled (expandable up to a maximum of five). The excess improvements are still useful, since they reward with a handful of Sparks, the in-game currency with which it is possible to buy objects from the crow Edgar, that is the merchant, present with his traveling emporium in every area of ​​the villa.

Each area has different rooms and three doors: that of the shop, that of the “upgrade” (where you have to face a challenge and then be rewarded with an item of your choice between three) and that of the boss. Only after defeating the latter will it be possible to proceed to one of the areas adjacent to the one in which the player is. Before crossing the threshold, however, you will be prompted to select a pair of bonuses and contingencies that will remain active until the end of the game.

Eyes in the Dark: bonuses and unexpected events can drastically change the tide of the game

Eyes in the Dark: bonuses and unexpected events can drastically change the tide of the game

As you progress, the enemies will become more and more fierce and areas that may be easily overcome because previously faced at the beginning of the game could become your new obstacle (it must be said, however, that the game is not at all difficult; indeed, it would not have spoiled a slightly higher level of challenge , given not so much by the presence of multiple enemies on the screen, but by an effective general complexity attributed to individual opponents).

After killing all the Guardians of the chapter or having met defeat, the game starts again, but with a changed plan of the mansion and some points to spend at the “Library”. Here you can choose whether to invest in random items to select immediately before entering the villa or whether to purchase upgrades or bonuses that will then appear during the course of the game.

PC System Requirements

Test Setup

  • Operating system: Windows 11
  • Processor: Intel Core i7-10700
  • Memory: 16 GB of RAM
  • Video card: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070
  • DirectX: Version 12

Minimum requirements

  • Operating system: Windows 7
  • Processor: Interl Core2 Quad Q9500 or AMD Phenom II X4 840
  • Memory: 4 GB of RAM
  • Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce GT 520, 1GB or AMD Radeon HD 5570, 1GB or Intel HD Graphics 4400
  • Memory: 800 MB of available space

Generational differences

Eyes in the Dark: the screen that introduces the room of Insector, the first Guardian faced by the player

Eyes in the Dark: the screen that introduces the room of Insector, the first Guardian faced by the player

Eyes in the Dark features a audiovisual sector truly superb and clean, which should set an example to all those who intend to communicate a game universe through image and sound. It’s just a pity that these two elements follow two divergent trajectories. From the very first seconds, the visual influence exercised by silent cinema on the one hand and gothic “à la Tim Burton” on the other is evident. The cutscenes contain their essence in an excellent way, catapulting the viewer into a world with a well-defined atmosphere … at least until the actual musical commentary comes into play, which fishes for full hands from 80s video games.

The two universes, while functioning on their own, never truly manage to unite harmoniously. The result is a sense of detachment from what is proposed, so much so that it does not seem risky to think that there will be those who will be anxiously waiting for the gameplay parts and those who, on the other hand, will not wait to return to the atmosphere of the cutscenes, such as it does not even seem risky to foresee the unanimous regret in finding a certain amount of minor bugs and glitcheswhich do not really affect the game’s flow, but which certainly devalue the overall experience.

Comment

Tested version Windows PC

Digital delivery

Steam, Epic Games Store

Price
€ 12.49

Eyes in the Dark is a title that does not seem to have too many pretensions but which, on the contrary, hides many natures. On the one hand we have a strongly marked narrative soul, eager to stand out. On the other hand, we have the desire to pay homage to what led to the creation of a work of this type. From yet another we find a more “entrepreneurial” spirit, eager to attack the market aggressively. All these natures can coexist within the same project, but it is not easy to prevent the reins from slipping out of hand and the chariot crossing that dividing line that discerns, in the blink of an eye, the masterpiece from the crowd. The Under The Stairs team, albeit only slightly, crossed that line. But that doesn’t mean their work is ineffective. The important thing is not so much to stop on that border with millimeter precision, as to get as close to it as possible, trying to improve at every opportunity that is granted. And this being their first attempt, they also came too close.

PRO

  • Stylistically concrete
  • Good roguelite structure

VERSUS

  • Some minor glitches and bugs
  • A little low level of challenge