One Eye Open

by Caelyn Sandel (as Colin Sandel) profile and Carolyn VanEseltine profile

2010

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Number of Reviews: 8
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful:
Things that go splut in the night., February 28, 2011
by Victor Gijsbers (The Netherlands)

I'm not a big horror fan. I especially do not like the kind of B-movie horror where piling on the gruesomely killed corpses seems to be the main point. And yet, within a single week I enjoyed both Leadlight and One Eye Open.

This is a bad game, but it has so much fun being bad that it is hard not to laugh along with it. Another creatively eviscerated corpse? Sure! Another hallway with teeth that eats people? Keep 'em coming! But I'm glad that this was IF, not a movie, because reading about gruesome scenes is a lot better than watching them.

What is weird about One Eye Open is that it combines splatter horror with a far more serious storyline about a psychic research facility, the tensions between the researchers, and the horrible results of their experiments. Fictionally, the two aspects of the game merge seamlessly; but it is perhaps impossible for the reader to both laugh about the horror and take the underlying story seriously. Every gallon of blood and every cubic foot of pulsating flesh distances us more from the characters. I doubt this was the intended effect, but it certainly is the effect.

Nevertheless, One Eye Open is remarkably ambitious and mostly succeeds. The game is very large (and should have been submitted to the Spring Thing rather than the IF Comp). The story is complicated, interesting, and well thought-out. The puzzles are good, and the best ending can only be reached once the player has thoroughly understood what happened in the past and what will happen in the future. Care and attention have been lavished onto the environment. I wouldn't quite call it a must-play game, but it is certainly enjoyable and well worth perusing. I personally prefer it to Babel, which is the game that obviously inspired One Eye Open.

My main complaint, apart from the weird mix of genres, is that the story is mostly told through journal entries and other documents. Journals are the disease of interactive fiction. Using journal entries is almost always the easy way out, and almost never a compelling way of telling a story. In addition, it obviously makes no sense that all these secretive protagonists are writing down their most inward thoughts. People don't act that way. Please, IF writers across the world, stop using notes and journals and sundry scraps of paper as the means by which you deliver your story to me?

But hey, cleaning the suit? The solution to that puzzle was so over-the-top and yet so sensible that I laughed out loud.