Escape a bizarre game show where your life is on the line!
Close Your Eyes is a 2D horror game originally created during Ludum Dare 29. You're the unwilling participant of a hanging - televised in a game show format - as punishment for your crimes. The rope breaks and you beat a hasty retreat in an effort to escape.
You wind up in a number of bizarre circumstances, including:
- The discovery of a handful of strange music tapes that tell of a deadly old hag.
- Talking to a woman dressed in yellow.
- An abandoned subway station with corpses lying on the benches.
- Going on a murder spree to obtain keys to a mansion.
- Several flashbacks involving your sister and pancakes.
- Being stalked by the obsessed and mysterious Simon.
- A decrepit hospital with bodies wriggling in the gurneys.
- A graveyard with a locked gate and a scarecrow looming in the darkness.
- Being held prisoner inside a floating tower and escaping to... a Hard Rock Cafe?
- Repeated encounters with the surreal game show host, and much more.
If you can't tell by the above list, this game is kind of all over the place. I can only imagine this was done on purpose, as the character you're playing probably sees the world in the same way. They might even be dreaming or imagining most of it in their final moments of life... or not. It's hard to be certain about anything in this game and to add further ambiguity, there's eight different endings.
While uncertainty is a key aspect of horror games and this title has it in spades, it's difficult to really call this a horror game. There are a few creepy locations, but what little tension the title provides is quickly broken by several other issues. A significant portion of the game has you hunting down others, which requires some serious backtracking if you don't know exactly where to go. The game's puzzles (which are mostly pretty good, barring some of the early ones) slow down the pacing, and anything chasing you in the process is more annoying than frightening. It also likes to flash bizarre images at you at specific points, but they're not quite startling enough to be effective jump scares. I found most of them morbidly comical rather than scary.
Aesthetically, this game is good. The art style, particularly that of the still images and the main character itself, works well for creepy and heartwarming scenarios (both can be found in-game), which is often difficult to achieve. The music and ambient sounds also ride this strange line at times, though there are a few areas of total silence that could've used a bit of audio background. I also found my character sometimes jogging in an unintended direction, thanks to somewhat sensitive controls (at least using an Xbox controller). It's really only an issue during a chase, but it sucks to get caught (and have to replay areas) because of it.
I can't quite recommend Close Your Eyes as a horror game, but it has an interesting premise. As a surreal experience that provides a handful of puzzles, it's not too bad.