Developed as a roguelike, Eyes in the Dark: The Curious Case of One Victoria Bloom is probably one of the best side-scrolling, platforming roguelike games you’ll experience this year. With a unique, shadowy, monochrome twist on the roguelike genre, it does so with a refreshing amount of creativity and style that reminds me of Tim Burton’s Esque cartoonish visuals.
The premise of Eyes in the Dark is that young Victoria Bloom has come to her family’s Bloom Manor, only to discover the entire place has been engulfed in darkness and overrun with monsters, and bugs made of that darkness. Victoria must brave the dangers of the Darkness and its creatures to save her grandfather, Victor Bloom, and unravel some mysteries about her family tree. Embark on a quest of darkness to find the light at the end. You’ll square up to morphs of past Bloom’s and their ghastly acolytes with no more than a flashlight, dispelling darkness in the process that’s similar to Alan Wake in the Alan Wake series.
The main hub is really similar to those of other roguelike games, such as in Dead Cells or Enter the Gungeon. As of right now, the hub doesn’t contain much beside The Bookshelf, where you can spend Knowlege (this game’s take on Skill Points) you earn from runs to unlock The Metamachine, new items, or new perks; The Metamachine, which offers you free upgrades for your flashlight, your slingshot or your gadgets; and statues of your ancestors that briefly introduces them and their contributions to the family.
For those that have previously played The Binding of Isaac and Hollow Knight, then how Eyes in the Dark works won’t be too different for you. At the start of any level, you are spawned into an empty room that branches off to other rooms, then you pick a room and go in it. Upon entering, random enemies will spawn and block off your exit to the next room therefore you have to eradicate all enemies to advance. Killing enemies will give you sparks, a currency used to buy items or upgrade your flashlight, that can be used at the shop that randomly spawns in many locations before each boss fight.
Most levels are just your typical platforming levels with abundance of enemies, there aren’t anything special about team but there are some rooms that are partially covered in the darkness intially, sometimes after uncovering the darkness can give some a piggy bank or an upgrade chest. My big issue with the level design is them being to linear and simple, I find it easy to just outrun most of the enemies since there were no additional elements that can make my life harder like traps, false paths/false platforms and much more.
Like other games of the same genre, each level has a shop that is accessible with a door that has a Raven symbol on it, it’s run by a big Raven called Edgar that sells you things like upgrades, health and miscellaneous. Likewise, Eyes in the Dark also has an upgrade room (has a Gear symbol) which lets you get one upgrade for free.
There are a lot of different enemies that the game offers like: some can fly, some are stationary with a beam attack, etc. While it’s good to see a diversity of enemies offered, but the sad truth is that 90% of the enemies are just reskinned and have different animations; they don’t behave differently or provides a harder time to fight against them.
Eyes in the Dark compensates this glaring issues throughout the game with the uses of Bosses. Each boss have their own unique move sets and their attack pattern seems to be randomized as well. I’ve beaten the first boss multiple times at this point, but each time I fight him, his patterns change randomly and changes to wherever you are standing so you have to keep moving around to fight and definitely can’t stay in one spot.
On paper, Eyes in the Dark has everything going for it initially but after spending some time, you can start seeing some issues popping up here and there throughout the game. First of all, this is combat system; at first, you’ll find it interesting and weird but after a bit, the combat gets boring, lackluster and repetitive really fast. I find it not really engaging due to you using the same flashlight and slingshot despite there are many upgrades that change how the weapons work. The story is at best mediorce, some part of the story are really “cringe” and weird, and some other parts aren’t like really connected to the previous one. Jeez, don’t ever mention the dialogues, they are really off-putting and confusing, one time I respawned back to the hub then Victoria randomly said “Oh, I remember about this stopwatch.”
After having spent around 10 hours in the game, I was pleasantly surprised by how much fun I had despite it taking inspiration from games I’ve played previously but just added in their style. Yes, it may not be one of the best roguelikes released this year, but if you are looking for a simple roguelike with elements from other well-known games of the same genre such as Hollow Knight, The Binding of Isaac, and more; then this game is perfect for you with its unique monochrome style with simple gameplay for enjoyment or a way to relieve stress after a hard day. Though, it may not win any awards or anything Eyes in the Dark sure does deserve recognition for its unique directions and enjoying the gameplay.
Score: 7 out of 10
Reviewed on PC