The Crow’s Eye
Gameplay 8
Graphics 7
Sound 8

The Crow’s Eye might not be a jump-scare laden horror title like it first appears to be, but instead offers a compelling and interesting puzzle experience. The story is a more involved than it seems and if you stick with it you’ll also find that there is more to the university than what you might think. There is no doubt that the puzzles sometimes feel a little out of place for the setting and time period of the game, but solving them is a very rewarding experience. Ultimately this game won’t give horror junkies the frights they crave, but if you enjoy a good story and love solving puzzles then you’ve come to the right place.

Gameplay: Light on the scares, but heavy on the puzzle solving and platforming.

Graphics: Nothing cutting edge, but sets the mood nicely.

Sound: Decent voice acting and a great soundtrack

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The Crow’s Eye

Developer: 3D2 Entertainment | Publisher: Nkidu Games Inc. | Release Date: 2017 | Genre: Adventure / Indie | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

When four students of the Medical University of Crowswood disappear under mysterious circumstances the authorities are called in to investigate. Unfortunately, instead of answers more people go missing, including policemen and faculty members. The university is promptly shut down and the case is considered closed. This all takes place in 1947, but nearly twenty years later a young man wakes up in the abandoned university only to find that he is now an unwilling participant in some twisted experiment. Although seemingly derelict, the university actually hides plenty of dark secrets, many of which you will uncover as you attempt to guide your unnamed character to freedom. However, escape is anything but easy with a mad scientist pulling the strings behind the curtains and an entire university full of puzzles and obstacles to navigate.

The Crow’s Eye is the debut title from a small indie team and they certainly aimed big. While at first glance it appears to be yet another creepy horror title, once you settle in to The Crow’s Eye you’ll find that its focus is actually on exploration and puzzle solving. Things certainly start out creepy enough and the abandoned university makes for a rather moody backdrop. However, apart from one or two jump-scares, the majority of your time is spent navigating tricky obstacles and solving the puzzles that lead you deeper into the bowels of the university. There are no creatures to battle, no monsters to hide from and no weapons to hoard. What this means is that you can get on with the job of finding out who you are, why you are being toyed with by an obviously mad scientist, and what you need to do to get the hell out of dodge.

The Crow’s Eye is viewed from a first person perspective and once you get over the initial anticipation of it being a horror title, the real influences become much clearer. The game definitely draws some inspiration from the Bioshock series for its visual design, while the Portal titles had an impact on the gameplay. The game runs on the Unity 5 engine, so while the overall design is quite good, the visuals aren’t quite up there with the big titles. Of course, this is not the work of a huge studio, but a small indie team, so we think they did a pretty good job considering their limited resources. While the game is not going to dazzle anyone expecting flawless graphics, it does provide a variety of interesting environments and a compelling setting.

The Bioshock influences are most obvious in the audio recordings that can be found scattered throughout the university. Listening to these will enable you to begin piecing together the fragments of the story as well as the people who plays a major role in it. Despite its state of disrepair, the university still has a working PA system, which is regularly abused by your nemesis to taunt you about your predicament. We would have preferred him to sound a little less like a comic book villain, but overall the standard of the voice acting in the game is rather good.

The lead character remains completely silent throughout, which makes all the PA announcements and radio conversations a little one-sided, but the game certainly doesn’t skimp on story. In fact, you’ll find numerous notes and letters as well that all shed more light on what really occurred within the halls of the facility. Sound effects are sparse, but well done, while the soundtrack is varied and very good. The soundtrack is actually available as a separate DLC purchase on Steam and with 33 tracks makes for some nice listening outside the game.

Initially you make your way through dark environments with nothing more than a flickering lighter to provide some illumination, but once you construct an electromagnetic device everything chances. Not only does it double as a flashlight, but also grants you abilities that would feel right at him in a Portal game. We don’t want to ruin any surprises, but suffice to say that with this device, it becomes a little more thrilling to navigate certain platform sections. Speaking of platforming, if you are not a fan of precision jumping in first person then this game is not going to win you over. While there might not be any enemies that can really harm you, slipping off a platform and tumbling into the darkness below can be fatal. This would explain why your character has a health bar, but the good news is that falling doesn’t necessarily mean you have to reload. Instead, you’ll lose some health and be deposited on the nearest bit of solid footing you touched before you had your spill. If you do run out of health then it’s back to the last save spot. Seeing as you can’t save at any time, but have to make use of dedicated spots that are spread around rather sparsely, this is something you’ll probably want to avoid.

Platforming jumping in first person does have its challenges, especially as you cannot see your feet in this game, but the odds aren’t completely stacked against you. In addition to your gravity defying gadget, you also have a crosshair to help you aim. You’ll soon also gain access to a recharging “adrenaline meter” that slows down time and increases your jumping distances when activated. These certainly help ease the pain a little, but unless you are really good there are probably a few sections you’ll end up having to repeat if you are not careful. The game also features quite a bit of backtracking, but this at least gives you the opportunity to find all the letters, notes and audio recordings. You’ll also want to keep an eye out for the crafting materials as well. These consist mostly of tape, cloth, ink, nails and other items used to craft bandages, maps and lockpicks. Strangely enough, the bandages are rather redundant as the only way to take any damage is from falling into voids. We are not exactly experts at first person platforming, but managed to complete the game with tons of bandages to spare. Likewise, you need to gather three items to create one lockpick, but the lock pick mini-game is only used three times in the entire adventure.

Overall The Crow’s Eye is quite an enjoyable game and quite impressive considering it is a debut release from a small indie team. We can’t deny however that the creepy setting sometimes feels very at odds with the puzzle based gameplay. Everything makes sense eventually, but horror fans will probably end up disappointed by the lack of scares while puzzle fans might be scared off by the seemingly creepy environments. The fact that first person platforming features so heavily in the game might also deter some players from trying it out. This would be a pity though as while the game might not be perfect it is quite captivating and it kept drawing us in deeper and deeper. Unless you absolutely cannot stand jumping around in first person we recommend giving The Crow’s Eye a shot. Just be sure to stick with it as you won’t experience everything it has to offer if you judge it too soon.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows 7 or Higher (32-bit or higher)
  • Processor: Intel Core i3 or equivalent
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 or equivalent
  • DirectX: Version 9.0
  • Storage: 3 GB available space
  • OS: Windows 7 or Higher (32-bit or higher)
  • Processor: Intel Core i5 or better
  • Memory: 6 GB RAM
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 or better
  • DirectX: Version 9.0
  • Storage: 3 GB available space

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