One Eye Open

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


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Number of Reviews: 8
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
A beautiful gory palace, built on sand, February 15, 2022
by cgasquid (west of house)

i'm going to come right out and say it: the writing in this game is gorgeously disgusting. the horror is real and visceral, and as you begin investigating it things just continually splatter from bad to worse. even images that might otherwise be comical (like the (Spoiler - click to show)laundry chute) have a cleverness to their descriptions that causes the gorge to rise and the eyes to be averted.

you are a test subject in an experiment run by a (Spoiler - click to show)corrupt and evil corporation ((Spoiler - click to show)really, did i even need to spoiler that?). as such, you've developed abilities beyond mortal ken, used with the new CONCENTRATE command. it takes some time to get the idea of how it works, and i kept finding new wrinkles in my powers as the story went on.

in terms of dream-logic, the horror is consistent and makes sense. you can never be quite sure if what you're dealing with is some kind of magic or merely a branch of science that humanity is better off not exploring. you find many diary pages and journals written by the doctors and others involved in your care, and it's very easy to start to care about certain ones (and to want to bring certain others on charges of crimes against humanity).

so, why three stars instead of five? well ... One Eye Open was clearly not adequately tested. there are constant issues with disambiguation any time you're in a room with multiples of the same object, and there are so many objects with the same noun. the notes your character carries are concatenated into a single object; why not the keys? and why isn't there a better way of navigating notes, possibly using the Invisiclues-style menu system that doesn't seem to have been used at all?

there are also cases where there only seems to be a single command that can accomplish the task. i knew exactly what to do in the (Spoiler - click to show)Autopsy Room but I couldn't get the parser to understand any of multiple phrasings. disambiguation stuck its oar in here as well, because (Spoiler - click to show)any attempt to refer to parts of the corpse, including the vital corpse hand, is redirected to the corpse's mouth instead. a situation like this, where you're locked down and being carefully timed, shouldn't have these issues.

finally, while it's possible to get a good ending, getting the correct ending is basically a matter of luck. throughout the game, you'll experience (Spoiler - click to show)flash-forwards to members of the staff dying in assorted horrible ways. in all but one such situation, there's nothing you can meaningfully do. but that one time, unless you ignore the chaos around you and take an unclued action, you're locked out of the true ending. you can't even replay the sequence to try again. this is not fair to the player at all!

overall, there are so many good ideas here. such a good story, albeit one firmly within genre conventions. clever puzzles. but One Eye Open needs more testing and debugging to fix the disambiguation errors, make your notes less of a chore to access, and to fix that one burst of deep unfairness.

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