LadiesGamers Eyes in the Dark

Eyes in the Dark Review

Game: Eyes in the Dark
Genre: Action, Roguelike
System: Steam (Windows & Linux)
Developer|Publisher: Under the Stairs | Gearbox Publishing
Controller Support: Yes
Price: UK £11.39 | US $14.99 | EU € 12,49
Release Date: July 14th, 2022

Review code provided with many thanks to Under the Stairs. 

Light Up the Dark

Eyes in the Dark is a sinister yet charming 2D action game with roguelike elements. This is an example of another game that has a familiar feel to it, but the developers provide plentiful amounts of originality and personality. It ends up acting as a beacon of light in a genre that feels pretty foggy. 

You play as young Victoria Bloom who has been invited to stay with her grandfather at Bloom manor. But something is a bit off in this mansion and swarms of creatures have taken over the residence and kidnapped your grandfather. Victoria grabs the most effective weapon, a flashlight and sets out to light up the darkness, and rescue her grandfather, all whilst learning a bit about her family history along the way.

1920s Setting

The game’s 1920s setting and black and white graphical design instantly perked my attention. Dialogue is presented like a silent film. In cutscenes, you’ll see Victoria speak in silence only for a screen of dialogue to be presented shortly after. It felt so refreshing from the typical little text box design we so often see. A black and white colour palette may seem basic for a design choice but the attention to detail is phenomenal. Environments are rich in drawn detail and the enemies themselves came in all manor of creepy Lovecraft-ian-like designs. The horror feel is more eerie than scary.

There is nothing in this game that will give the kids nightmares. This family-friendly horror feel is very hard to get right in films and games. A feature I really liked was how the enemies’ eyes themselves indicate their health. As you whittle them down the number of eyes they have diminishes. There are even small moments of charm like how Victoria’s face is animated in the main menu moving from determined, when you hover over starting the game, to looking concerned if you decide to quit. The soundtrack is a fantastic mix of retro-sounding syth-style tunes with a sinister Halloween twist to it.

LadiesGamers Eyes in the Dark
Victoria is instantly likeable as the game’s protagonist

Rogue Light

The general design of the game will be familiar to those who have a roguelike game or rogue light as the game advertises itself. Move from room to room destroying all the enemies whilst gradually upgrading your gear and searching for that enormous boss fight. Death will come putting you right back to the start but you’re given the opportunity to unlock more items to discover in the game to maybe make the next run more manageable. How Eyes in the Dark uses this template is quite refreshing.

To start, your main weapon is literally a flashlight or torch if you are British. Shine this on enemies for a significant amount of time and it drains their health down until they explode. But it won’t take long before you discover unique light bulbs which will change how your flashlight functions. Turning it more from a beam to a projectile weapon with unique stats. You can get a short-range burst with a large arc length that feels like a shotgun to a thin laser that acts like a sniper. It’s a creative way to put a different spin on shooting mechanics.

LadiesGamers Eyes in the Dark
Quoth the raven


The flashlight is not just used to destroy enemies, it also lights up the darkness the room is shrouded in revealing what’s hidden within. Your secondary weapon is a slingshot which can throw a large area of light draining the health of anything in its path. This, along with your flashlight and your shoes can be upgraded with perks you find hidden around the levels.

Additional upgrade slots can be unlocked by spending sparks which act as the game’s currency. This is dropped by fallen enemies or found in chests or random furniture. These can also be spent in the ravens’ shop in exchange for different equipment or a health top-up. The random generation of level design and item drops is variable enough to entice you to return run after run. I also loved how you don’t really die in this game. If you fail, a handy pocket watch simply rewinds time back to the safety of the main hub. A charming spin on the roguelike design.

LadiesGamers Eyes in the Dark
Sinister monsters await you in the darkness

Pick up and Beam 

Controls initially took a little bit of getting used to in the early stages. I opted for a controller for my playthrough. Here using the flashlight is tied to the left analogue stick and the jump actually attached to the right trigger. This felt odd to start. I soon learned the game does allow you to map controls to your liking in the options menu. But I ended up settling on the default anyway as putting jump on one of the face buttons just didn’t work while juggling the flashlight. After three runs I was jumping and lighting up the darkness as energetically as Victoria appears in the game. It all feels quite comfortable to navigate around the rooms doing basic platforming and lighting up the baddies. 

Difficulty wise the game is quite easy to get into. So if you’re not keen on roguelikes barrier to entry Eyes in the Dark makes for a much more comfortable entry point into the genre. I guess a minor niggle I have with the game overall is there appears to be no saving during a run. Once you have started you kinda need to commit to it which is a bit tricky if you have to get up and go check your baby hasn’t crawled into some trouble. I think I’ll be keeping an eye out on a Switch version of this in the future as a standby mode is certainly needed for me.

LadiesGamers Eyes in the Dark
whos needs guns when you have a flashlight

Keep Your Eyes on This One

Eyes in the Dark is a refreshing entry into the roguelike genre. Mechanically it follows a familiar addictive style of attempting run after run to gradually make progress over time. It’s the developers’ extra care for the design and detail of the game that really makes this a shining beacon in the genre. A simple but detailed graphical design, an adorable female protagonist and destroying enemies with light instead of traditional weapons make this for quite the memorable gaming experience. I still continue to wonder if the day will come when I will tire of the roguelike genre but games like Eyes in the Dark display why I still have a lot of love for roguelikes. 

Final Verdict: Two Thumbs Up

Two thumbs up

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