I just finished playing The Eyes of Ara and I’m pretty excited to share my opinion about it. It’s not everyday that I get to find a game that I really really really like. I grew up playing Adventure Puzzle games like Zork and Myst. While many games have surfaced over the years inspired by these classics, very little of them delivered well in my opinion. Almost every game now is developed in an adaptive first-person perspective that moves in real-time. Thanks to touch screens, they are slowly returning. In The Eyes of Ara, aside from the real-time horizontal/vertical camera perspective, the actual navigation is true classic point-and-click.
You begin the game in a boat being lead down a river that takes you to an abandoned castle. You find a letter in the boat which states the reason why you’re there. Many people have been troubled by this abandoned castle due to hearing a weird signal. This signal remains unidentifiable because not many people are keen on investigating the source especially with a lot of rumors going around town about the sanity of the original owner in addition to other supernatural stories. You’ve been hired to investigate the place and put to rest these rumors once and for all. Upon arrival; however, things take an interesting turn.
It’s worth noting the game isn’t classified as horror. It can be ‘creepy’ but that’s fas as it gets really. There’s a lot of history to the castle and its original inhabitants. There you can find journal entries, letters and many lore items scattered in almost every room in the house to explain what has took place. I also like how the castle itself is sectioned; meaning, each wing has a main puzzle and a theme pertaining to a mythical deity or a story. Overall these themes overlap and weave together a segment of the story relevant to both past and present owners of the castle in order to explain what has happened. It’s a unique way of storytelling that combines both factual and historical information flawlessly.
The other exceptional thing about the game is the nature of its puzzles. Thankfully there are no hidden object mini games. There are plenty of collectibles, some of which are combinable and the majority of the puzzles are mechanical. The level of difficulty is decently challenging. It’s not heinous like The Witness for instance, neither is it simple like the games in Artifex Mundi. You could get by 70% of the game without a walkthrough but I would think you’d probably need one for few exceptionally difficult puzzles.
The one thing I could say is truly missing is the lack of a hinting system. The world is heavily detailed. After playing for a couple of hours you will get used to the pattern of these rooms and you’ll expect to find certain items in certain places but even with that said, there are times when it’s near impossible to notice things because the world is heavily detailed and things can pass unnoticed. Using Googling to search for clues can sometimes ruin the puzzle altogether.
Overall The Eyes of Ara is an enjoyable game. The world is immersive and inviting. If you’re looking for something similar to Myst but with a more emphasis on item manipulation and a tinge of Greek mythology then look no further. The price tag is temping on Steam too.