Developer: 3D2 Entertainment
Publisher: Nkidu Games Inc.
Tested on: PC
The Crow’s Eye – Review
The Crow’s Eye feels like a horror game, but is actually a puzzle platformer akin to Portal. If you like to roam about a dark and creepy abandoned medical university, love to solve puzzles and be toyed with by a mad scientist, but you absolutely hate dying in games, then this is the perfect game to play. This game is developed by 3D2 Entertainment and published by Nkidu Games Inc., and available via Steam.
Your character starts in the corner of a dark room you can explore, without any introduction. When exploring (and grabbing a lighter to light your path), you’ll quickly discover a taped audio log of a detective, investigating the disappearance of a number of students of a medical university. Of course, you come to the realization you are indeed at this university, when you explore laboratories, classrooms and lecture halls. When walking around, every now and then you hear a voice over the intercom: you are being watched, and directed through your journey, by a seemingly mad professor. The mad professor has set your experience up as a game: you must solve puzzles and run around like a rat in a maze for his entertainment. After solving the puzzles on one floor, you will be able to proceed to the next floor, where you’ll discover more about the story of the detective, his wife, the missing persons case and the mad experiments which were being conducted at this university.
This game is an interesting way of revealing a number of intertwined stories. On your way to escape the university and solve the weird game the professor puts you through, you’ll grow curious as to what happened to those lost students 20 years ago, what weirdness was going on at the university, the professor’s choices and what the experiments were about, and what was happening to this detective whose path you seem to follow through the abandoned university. The game tells you these stories as you walk through the halls and rooms, and solve the puzzles.
The Crow’s Eye has a beautiful dark look to it, which reminds of Bioshock and Amnesia. The graphics are simple and a bit bland, but still atmospheric. The textures don’t have much detail, but there’s enough detail to properly convey the ambience of the game. The simple textures make the game looks a bit old, like it is at least 10 years old, which somehow seems to fit the game. The game is made in a beautiful 30’s – 40’s art-deco-ish style. Most rooms in the game are dark, and the little light there is, is very dramatic, but you always carry a lighter to illuminate the scene. The UI is very simple, but clear and easy to use. However, the default key bindings are not traditional and take some getting used to.
The soundtrack is very eerie, which really sets the tone for The Crow’s Eye. Throughout the game you’ll hear creaking and other ambient sounds which really put across the atmosphere of the game. Occasionally, your character makes ‘scared’ sounds, which makes you jump even more than the reason why he got scared in the first place. The voice acting is also very good, which is nice since a big part of the stories in the game is being told by audio files.
The Crow’s Eye is actually a puzzle platformer, not really a horror game since you can’t really die. But before you realize that there won’t be any monsters, you’ll definitely be scared there will be, hiding behind any corner. Especially when you find bandages, you’ll expect to get hurt, but in practice you seldom need them: if something hurts you, it hurts only a little bit, and if you actually get killed it’s mostly by falling, which just lets you try again, instead of seeing a bloody sequence followed by a ‘game over’ screen. Because of the lack of actual mortal danger, this game feels a lot like the starting experience in Amnesia: it’s certainly feeling creepy, some stuff scares you for a second, there are puzzles you need to solve to progress, but you aren’t in any real danger. However, this game does have the horror ‘feel’ to it.
After solving the puzzles at one floor, you can proceed to the next floor, with increasingly difficult puzzles. The puzzles are not very difficult, but still fun to figure out. Finishing the puzzles requires exploring and logical thinking. Basically, you’ll need to look around at all the elements you have at the current level, figure out how they fit together, and solve several steps in order to proceed to the next level. In that aspect, this game is a lot like Portal. You have your puzzles to solve, a crazy genius narrating and steering your journey, and some interesting side stories you’ll explore when progressing.
The game has a lot of platforming, falling results not in real death but in a reset of the jump, so you can try again. This game also has a few fun mechanics to make it more diverse: You got a re-filling vial of adrenaline which you obtain in-game, which slows time and makes you jump further. Also there’s an electro magnet which attracts objects toward you, or propels you toward objects. There’s also crafting: bandages and lock picks you need to craft following simple recipes you discover while playing, using items you’ll find when walking around. The lock-picking minigame is really well done and takes some time to figure out and master. There’s no time limit and no downside to failing a few times, but that’s realistic in the setting of this game.
The Crow’s Eye is an atmospheric game, despite the basic textures. The music and sounds are very good, and the stories you’ll read are really interesting. It’s cheap, fun to play if you like to read and love stories, and it will keep you entertained for 6 to 10 hours. It’s the studio’s first project on steam, and very promising.