Opening Planet of the Eyes for the first time, the player is greeted by the game’s menu screen, with the game title printed overhead. Upon pressing “New Game”, the screen turns black before showing a short cut scene of a ship crash-landing among burning wreckage. Not long after, a robot climbs out and the game gives control to the player. Going left proves pointless, as the wreckage blocks the way. When going right, however, the player stumbles on a cassette, which plays an audiolog. The recording is the voice of an older man, giving mysterious instructions before the audio ends. The player presses on.
This is the opening sequence to Cococucumber’s adventure platformer Planet of the Eyes, a game shrouded in mystery and set on a strange planet with various alien threats the player must avoid in order to survive and discover the reason behind their arrival to this unknown world. One of the game’s most compelling attributes lies in how it withholds narrative details from the player. The player must head forward and interact with audiologs in order to find out more about the planet, as well as the robot they are playing as within the game. To add to this aura of intrigue, the audiologs themselves come in the form of voice-overs by a man who is speaking directly to this robot character with an air of familiarity. Who is he? Why is he giving out instructions? The answers lie ahead, in the treacherous depths of the alien planet.
Cococucumber is a local indie studio owned by Martin Gavreau and Vanessa Chia, with Planet of the Eyes being their second release (the first being an iOS gameBunny Bonker). Planet of the Eyes was also a collaboration with writer Will O’Neill (Actual Sunlight, Sometimes Always Monsters) and sound designer John Black of Cypher Audio, responsible for the game’s haunting score. Since its release, Planet of the Eyes has met with very positive reviews from both players and critics as well as being in the official selection of several game conferences including PAX East, EGX London, Game Developers Conference 30.
Planet of the Eyes makes for a wonderful game experience as it provides the player with engaging play in the form of puzzles and provides immersion in its voice-overs and sound. The alien planet is hostile yet the player is encouraged to proceed, a product of curiosity and exploration, as well as a well-written narrative. The visuals help the planet feel alien and strange, as well as dangerous and scary. From giant beetle-like creatures to rolling boulders, there is danger at every turn. The game itself is fairly short and can be completed within two hours time, which is something that gives a nice pace to the narrative reveals within the story.
Planet of the Eyes is available on Steam for the price of $9.99