During Summer Games Fest, Under the Stairs showcased their now-released game, Eyes in the Dark: The Curious Case of One Victoria Bloom. The trailer gave gamers around the world a sneak peek at what Gearbox Software and Under the Stairs had coming. The trailer features a child equipped with a flashlight exploring a dark mansion with creepy eyes watching her. Our journey is an adventure through her family’s mansion learning about Bloom’s family history and a rescue mission to save Victoria’s Grandpa.
Eyes in the Dark: The Curious Case of One Victoria Bloom
Publisher: Gearbox Software
Developer: Under the Stairs
Platform: Microsoft Windows – Steam (Reviewed) & The Epic Game Store
Release Date: July 14th, 2022
Rather than learning as much as I could about Eyes in the Dark: The Curious Case of One Victoria Bloom, I decided to go in blind. This would ultimately be a blessing and a curse. As I explored the mansion, I could easily discern that this was no ordinary adventure game.
Going in I expected a game similar to Luigi’s Mansion but instead, I got to experience a game that was a mixture of Dead Cells, Alan Wake, Luigi’s Mansion, and other horror-esque games. Eyes in the Dark is not your typical linear path adventure; instead, it makes the player think about how they want to proceed through each part of the mansion.
At the start of each run, the game randomly generates a power-up for the player to equip for their journey. As you eliminate the different monsters, they drop sparkles that can be used to upgrade gear at the crow’s shop. Other power-ups can be found in chests in random rooms or in challenge rooms.
Once the player has defeated the level’s boss, they will earn an additional upgrade to take with them to help them on their journey. If one of Victoria’s item slots becomes full, the player can choose to swap the gear, upgrade the item’s slot, or disassemble the upgrade.
If the player runs out of health and becomes scared, Victoria will blackout and the pocket watch her grandfather gave her will rewind back to the moment of his kidnapping. Similar to other roguelikes, once Victoria returns to the starting room, all upgrades that the player has unlocked will be lost.
Depending on how well the last run went will determine if the player can unlock any knowledge upgrades. Sparkles, monsters, and bosses defeated will increase the number of knowledge rewards that they will earn.
These knowledge points can be spent on upgrades that can impact the player’s start or random opportunities throughout each run. Do not expect to bit this game on your first, second, third, or even 10th run; it is a long grinding process with players building on previous runs’ knowledge to get further each time.
At times the game can feel a bit unfair but at the end of the day, it comes down to skill and RNG. During the early stages, the game can be overwhelming especially when learning monsters attacks, finding out which upgrade fits your playstyle best, and learning the game’s core mechanics.
Eyes in the Dark uses the element of investigation to make each room feel mysterious and unique. The player must use Victoria’s Flashlight to illuminate the room, eliminate monsters, and chase off the shadows.
The game’s art style feels reminiscent of a blend of Tim Burton films mixed with Don’t Starve. The 2D art style and platform mechanics have Victoria dodging monsters attacks and trying to stay healthy.
Visually, the black and white art style can be a bit overwhelming on the eyes during long play sessions. I noticed that our vision started getting blurry after two hours of gameplay.
Luckily, everything in the game, art-wise has its own unique feel. Monsters have their own style of attacks and each attack has its own special animation. There are a set number of randomly generated rooms but you won’t see the same room every single run.
Eyes in the Dark: The Curious Case of One Victoria Bloom‘s soundtrack can be relaxing especially if you are a fan of Halloween. Each area has its own theme visual and musical themes.
As you move throughout the levels, players will notice a change in monster’s appearance and the level design. These changes to level design, gameplay audio, and even randomized items change how each run feels.
When playing Eyes in the Dark: The Curious Case of One Victoria Bloom, players will have to make a tough choice. Will you play the game with a keyboard and mouse or take the easier path and use a controller.
Playing on a keyboard and mouse is a lot more demanding; Using directions keys or wasd, feels more like a chore rather than a fun way to play the game.
The best way to play is using a controller. When I first started our review, I had a bit of difficulty using a controller; luckily, the developers put out a patch that made controller use a lot easier.
During my first two hours of playing Eyes in the Dark: The Curious Case of One Victoria Bloom, I grew increasingly more frustrated with the game after each failed run. Rather than taking the time to understand what I was doing wrong, I kept jumping into the mansion and expecting a different outcome without changing the style of play.
Once I took the time to understand what I was doing wrong, I could actually enjoy the game. Between the gameplay, the atmosphere, and the difficulty, Eyes in the Dark will bring players back begging for more. At this time, I can admit that I have been unable to complete the game.
Hopefully, later down the line, the developers will add a feature allowing players to resume at a certain checkpoint. Yes, the game is completable but it can take a lot of time. If you are looking for a fun 2D side-scrolling roguelite, then Eyes in the Dark will be right up your alley.
Niche Gamer received a digital review copy of Eyes in the Dark: The Curious Case of One Victoria Bloom on PC. Eyes in the Dark: The Curious Case of One Victoria Bloom is available for Windows PC (via Steam and the Epic Game Store). You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.