One Eye Open

Colin Sandel and Carolyn VanEseltine (2010)

In One Eye Open you play a research subject in a science experiment gone wrong. The game becomes a surreal experience through a nightmarish world as you slowly piece together whatís going on, itís billed as a horror game with mature content. As you play through it youíll find bits of paper that tell a story between two organizations - Corona Labs, the people that hired you, and the rest of the hospital staff. It becomes an intriguing tale, but one thatís spread over a huge play area, recreating an entire hospital, and one thatís too large to complete within the two hour limit.

The game is wordy, as I once heard a writing instructor say, "go back and cut out 50% of your material. It will make for a tighter, more focused piece of work." And here itís needed. Every description in this game is pretty long and just parsing through all that text took up so much time that I was only able to make it through about half of the game, using a few hints and a peak at the walkthrough once or twice. I donít know many people that want to suffer this much text - for three or four hours - just to get through what you created.

But itís a solid game that only threw a strange response here or there, or needed an extra synonym or two. All minor stuff. I did have problems with things like PUT KEYCARD IN READER to open up the door, but just going through it worked if you had the keycard, so I didnít get stuck on anything like that. Some other cool stuffís in there like the two infinite hallways. Of course you can waste a bit of time exploring them too.

One thing that you have to watch out for is the game can be put into an unwinnable state, so make sure to save often or at least when trying something dangerous. There are a few sudden deaths, and those can be undone, but if you get sprayed in the face with acid it will slowly eat away at you, past the three turn undo point for some interpreters, forcing you to restore or restart. But itís frustrating points like these, that canít be undone, where people type QUIT.

I liked this game. It sort of reminded me of Babel, but bigger and not as tightly polished. There are no real bugs, and I didnít have to struggle with guessing the verb. But the writing was long winded enough to slow down the entire experience, allowing me to only get through about half the game. And thatís going to cost it. Along with some poor puzzle design, I scored it an 8.